Kent Is­land foot­ball se­cures re­gion’s top seed

Ryan leads the way on of­fense, de­fense, as un­beaten Bucs roll into date with county ri­val Li­ons

Record Observer - - Sports - By AYMAN ALAM aalam@star­dem.com

K. Is­land 35 — Park­side 7

STEVENSVILLE — So much for the Buc­ca­neers tak­ing a step back this sea­son.

Kent Is­land High’s foot­ball team locked up the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A East Re­gion play­offs with Fri­day even­ing’s work­man­like, 35-7 vic­tory over Park­side, and can now turn its at­ten­tion to the al­ways bal­ly­hooed matchup with Queen Anne’s County.

Not to men­tion start think­ing about post­ing the se­cond un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son in pro­gram his­tory in a sup­posed “down year”.

“It would be a big ac­com­plish­ment, be­cause ev­ery­body was say­ing that this was go­ing to be our down year,” Kent Is­land’s ju­nior wide­out/de­fen­sive back Sean Mooney said. “Some kids in our school even said it was go­ing to be a down year, coaches around the Bayside said it’s go­ing to be a down year, and we all just fought, worked out a lot in the off­sea­son and came to­gether and said, ‘It’s not go­ing to be a down year, we’re go­ing to be one of the best teams’.”

Added Bucs head coach Damian Fer­rag­amo: “I think it’s ob­vi­ous that we’re not go­ing to scare any­one, we kind of win ugly, but it’s Week 9, and we are what we are, and we’re go­ing to em­brace it.”

Though the other seeds have yet to be de­cided in the re­gion, Kent Is­land will host both 2A East play­off games should it ad­vance past the opener in two weeks. Queen Anne’s (8-1) cur­rently sits at se­cond, fol­lowed by Elk­ton (8-1) and North Car­o­line (7-2). By virtue of MPSSAA points stand­ings, the Li­ons can still tum­ble all the way to fourth place, while the Golden Elks and Bull­dogs can move up with wins in fa­vor­able matchups with win­less North East-Ce­cil and Colonel Richard­son (4-4).

“It’s funny, be­cause early in the sea­son, early in camp, we had some of the worst prac­tices we’ve ever seen, in all my years of coach­ing,” Fer­rag­amo said. “We’ve got­ten bet­ter as a team, but it was a prod­uct of be­ing young in lead­er­ship roles, and they were just grow­ing into their roles.

“It would be big,” Fer­rag­amo added of pos­si­bly reach­ing 10-0. “be­cause it means we’ve ac­com­plished our goals each week, as coaches and as play­ers.”

The dis­man­tling of the Rams was me­thod­i­cal.

The only blips on Kent Is­land’s of­fen­sive ledger were a lost fum­ble by Braden Doyle on the game’s first play from scrim­mage and two non-de­script penal­ties. A 41-yard touch­down catch and run by Mooney off a Jor­dan Mar­ciano toss was the high­light play of the game, while two-way se­nior stand­out Austin Ryan rushed for 108 yards on 12 car­ries and scored twice, and added a pick-6 in the fourth quar­ter. Se­nior Cameron Bouie also found pay­dirt on a 16-yard run, as the Bucs racked up 255 yards to­tal of­fense on only 37 plays from scrim­mage, nearly 7 yards per snap.

“We learned (af­ter the Eas­ton game last week), that we have to limit the turnovers,” Ryan said. “Turnovers lead to scores, and Eas­ton’s only score was on a turnover and Park­side’s only score was on a turnover.”

Park­side was paced by Nayel Oge with 115 yards on 21 hand­offs, while Ter­riq Bivens racked up 65 yards on 15 car­ries. The Rams’ lone score ar­rived with 7 min­utes, 7 sec­onds re­main­ing in the first, as Da­jour Church capped a short drive fol­low­ing Doyle’s fum­ble with a 4-yard TD run up the mid­dle.

The Bucs an­swered quickly.

Af­ter some pa­tient run­ning from Ryan and Doyle placed Kent Is­land on Park­side’s 41, Mar­ciano lo­cated Mooney up the left side­line, and Mooney hauled in the tight spi­ral over Rams cor­ner­backs Trevin Vasquez and Rashan Evans. Bert Schre­con­gost missed the point-af­ter, leav­ing the Rams up 7-6.

That lead was short-lived, as Park­side turned it over on downs on the next pos­ses­sion, Bivens get­ting stacked up by the line on the Rams’ 39. Ryan ripped a 27-yard run two plays later, and then fin­ished the drive with a 9-yard rumble, drag­ging two de­fend­ers into the end zone to put Kent Is­land ahead to stay.

It was still 13-7 at the break, but the Rams found some life on the first drive of the se­cond half when Oge dashed 34 yards up the right side­line be­fore be­ing tripped up by Michael Scott. Park­side worked the ball to Kent Is­land’s 28 on a se­ries of short runs, but was stopped again on downs when Bivens fell short of the marker, hand­ing it over to the Bucs on their 28 fol­low­ing a lengthy hud­dle by the of­fi­cials, who made the call with­out a mea­sure­ment.

The de­ci­sion ap­peared to both un­nerve and ul­ti­mately un­ravel the Rams.

Ryan jet­ted 45 yards on the next play, and Kent Is­land had an­other 15 tacked on fol­low­ing a late hit by Park­side. Doyle gained 10 on a carry to erase the sting of a hold­ing penalty and Mar­ciano found Mooney for 14 on third-and-10. Ryan scored from 4 yards out on the next snap, and Schre­con­gost split the up­rights for a 20-7 lead.

The Bucs’ of­fense was hum­ming again af­ter an un­steady start to the game, not to men­tion mus­ter­ing only 14 points against Eas­ton in a 14-7, Week 8 win, when Kent Is­land was lim­ited to 188 yards to­tal of­fense, two Schre­con­gost field goals and a Doyle TD run.

“Eas­ton was a good foot­ball team, and Park­side was a good foot­ball team, too,” Fer­rag­amo said. “I know it was 35-7, but it was a lot closer than that.

A shanked punt by Park­side placed the Bucs on the Rams’ 38, and af­ter Bouie was stopped on back-to-back runs, Mar­ciano hit Selby Scaggs on a 12-yard strike on third down for a fresh set of plays. Bouie scored shortly there­after, go­ing 16 yards on the first play from scrim­mage in the fourth.

Park­side turned it over on downs a fi­nal time de­spite a 37-yard heave by An­drew Smith to Raquon Hen­ni­gan, but the Bucs punted fol­low­ing three failed runs. A screen pass by Smith was

in­ter­cepted by Ryan on the next Rams snap; it ended with a 42-yard TD re­turn, and a Scaggs to Zach Holden two-point con­ver­sion to cap the scor­ing.

“I was just go­ing for­ward, and run­ning back blocked me,” Ryan said. “I saw the screen com­ing, just ran out to the guy. It was a screen I read, and got lucky with it.”

Fer­rag­amo was both coy and self-dep­re­cat­ing when asked if there is any­thing hid­den up his sleeve as this Fri­day’s home date with the Li­ons ap­proaches.

“I didn’t hear any talk about green and gold com­ing to this field, all this week,” said Fer­rag­amo, ref­er­enc­ing Queen Anne’s school col­ors. “We have the most com­pet­i­tive re­gion in the state of Mary­land, so

the four teams that make it, ever y game is go­ing to be a coin flip.

“I’m not cre­ative enough to have any­thing new, so we’re go­ing to have our nor­mal Mon­day prac­tice,” Fer­rag­amo added. “The prac­tice plans are al­ready made, we’re just go­ing to change the name on the top and the game plan for the team com­ing in.”

Mooney echoed his coach’s sen­ti­ments. The Bucs have yielded only 64 points in nine games this sea­son and have scored the se­cond most points in the Bayside Con­fer­ence be­hind high-oc­tane Cam­bridgeSouth Dorch­ester, a team Kent Is­land hung a 49-14 win on in Week 7.

Queen Anne’s will likely pose the team’s great­est chal­lenge thus far in 2016. The Li­ons have al­lowed 100 points in nine games, se­cond to the Bucs, and also sport a stel­lar, well-rounded

of­fense, hav­ing av­er­aged 37 points an out­ing.

“I think we’re just go­ing to stay fo­cused and look to go 1-0 next week,” Mooney said. “Hope­fully ever ybody stays fo­cused, watches a lot of film and play our hearts out next week be­cause Queen Anne’s is our big ri­val.”

Added Ryan: “We just got to step it up. This week in prac­tice, we’ve just go to fly around and go hard.”

Notes: Kent Is­land has won four of the last five head-to-head meet­ings with Queen Anne’s, in­clud­ing the play­offs. The Li­ons had won the pre­vi­ous 10 . ... Park­side racked up 70 yards in penal­ties, the Bucs only 26 on three flags . ... Doyle in­ter­cepted Smith in the first half . ... Bouie had 24 yards on seven car­ries, and Mar­ciano passed for 81 yards.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Ay­man_S­tarDem. Email me at aalam@star­dem.com

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