Kennedy continued to make progress on the football field but the results didn’t show up on the scoreboard as the Eagles were shutout 35-0 by Chaska in the home opener at Bloomington Stadium on Friday.
“We played better, especially on the defensive side,” Eagles coach Jon Anderson noted. “Take away a couple big plays to put them in a strong position – one big pass and a quarterback run and we’re right there. It was 14-0 at the half. Offensively we got better but we’re hurting ourselves with the penalties we’re taking on both sides (of the ball).”
Chaska ran for four touchdowns on distances of five, nine, two and three yards. Two came from Marcus Holasek who ran for 24 yards on eight carries as nine different Hawks carried the ball. Quarterback Connor Souba completed 11-of-17 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown, a 45 yard connection with Justin Bach in the third quarter.
Kennedy junior running back Terrell Davis-Barber led the Eagles ground attack with 63 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards.
“I love how hard and intensely he runs the ball but we’ve got to work on opening up the holes for him and using more quick passes to get the ball to him because he’s so close to busting one loose,” Anderson explained about the junior who burst onto the varsity scene last season averaging 5.5 yards per carry for 594 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.
He also caught 19 passes for 43 yards. Davis-Barber showed how dangerous he can be as he returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown. On 18 returns he ran 427 yards averaging over 23 yards per return.
Quarterbacks Michael McGaffey and Isaac Coutier continued to share duties combining to complete 7-of-17 passes for 58 yards. Anderson says the open competition remains for the starting spot at quarterback. “Both played fine this week,” he said. “Both did good things and made some mistakes.”
Junior Santos Ortiz caught all three passes to him for 30 yards including a 17 yard completion. Connor Lynch added an eight-yard pickup.
Kennedy’s defense was led by senior linebackers Jalen Moore with 10 tackles and Brandon Sjostrand added nine tackles.
Senior defensive lineman Nick McCullen had a sack to go with four tackles and Ortiz, a junior linebacker, recovered a fumble in the second quarter to go with four tackles.
“I’m very happy with (Moore),” Anderson said. “He’s one guy who has stepped up this year. Last year he played a little for us but spent more time with special teams. His dedication in the weight room is showing this year. He’s more athletic than last year and has more confidence than last year.”
That confidence came through in the season opener as he made the fourth down stop on the opening drive of the game after the Eagles turned the ball over on the opening kick.
Sjostrand is a leader on and off the field for Kennedy. “He really is the Ironman for us playing inside linebacker and tight end who we sometimes split out wide. He’s also our longsnapper and the middle of the wedge guy on kick return,” Anderson said. “Brandon really busted his tail to get stronger and is really a smart kid, too. He’s the high GPA guy in the classroom.”
McCullen makes his return to the football field for the first time since eighth grade this season. An all-around standout athlete who shines for the hockey and lacrosse programs is emerging as a top member of the defensive line at right end. “He’s in great shape and is great at rushing the quarterback and playing the run,” Anderson said. “He’s listening to what (Defensive Coordinator Robert) French is saying.”
Ortiz is another candidate for the Ironman Award as a two-way starter for the Eagles. “He just doesn’t leave the field,” Anderson said. “He’s our best receiver in addition to playing inside linebacker and he’s on three of our special teams. He’s only off the field for point after touchdowns and kick offs.”
“No doubt we would’ve liked a different score but we’re working toward the playoffs and playing our best football at that time,” Anderson said.
Follow Jason Olson on Twitter @SunSportsJason.