By ANDY EDWARDS
MORGANTOWN -- By head coach Scott Green’s estimation, there were a lot of firsts for the Kennett High School football team in its nonleague clash at Twin Valley on Friday night.
The Blue Demons racked up over 400 yards of offense and drove inside the Raiders’ 30-yard line on all but one possession, yet managed points on just three of them. They were penalized 10 times for 105 yards, lost two fumbles, threw an interception, and turned it over on downs.
“I’ve never been a part of a game,” Green said, “where we had that many turnovers and penalties called against us.”
What Green had never been a part of, nor anyone that has ever been associated with the Kennett program for that matter, is a team that won its first three games. That is, until Friday.
Fullback Jordan Lardani ran for two touchdowns, quarterback Jordan Jones accounted for 263 yards of offense, and the Blue Demons recovered four Twin Valley fumbles en route to a 20-0 victory over the Raiders. When the dust settled and the clock hit triple zeroes, all of those inauspicious numbers, all of the turnovers and penalties and missed opportunities, were a thing of the past. The only numbers that mattered were 3 and 0, as in the record compiled for the first time by a Blue Demons team, and the future looks awfully bright.
“It’s easy to say, ‘yeah, we saw this coming,’” Green said. “We’ve worked hard, this group of seniors that we have. They’ve been with this new regime since they were sophomores. They’ve had three full years in the system, and I think that has something to do with it...Right now all of those things are coming together for us in a good way.”
For a while, it seemed as if nothing was going to come together for the Blue Demons on a clear night at the School on the Hill. A botched snap led to a turnover inside the Raiders’ 4-yard line on their opening drive, and Jones was picked off deep in Twin Valley territory the next time Kennett had the ball. But the Blue Demons gradually wore down an overmatched Raiders squad and, in the end, were rewarded with a victory that may have been sealed well before they took the field.
“There’s one thing that we try to do really well and better than other teams, and that’s condition,” Green said. “That’s one thing that you can’t watch film and figure out. That’s what we preach: we want to turn the game on its head with conditioning. That’s something they can’t prepare for, and we expect that.”
“That’s the only thing they can’t prepare for is our conditioning,” said senior linebacker Brandon Liddick. “All of these teams are bigger than us, but if we work our butt off in practice, that’s all we can do.”
Kennett’s advantage in physicality and stamina was evident in the stat sheet. Not counting two long plays, the Blue Demons averaged just over four yards per carry on the night. Its vaunted triple-option/flexbone offense never displayed the big-play ability it showcased in wins over Avon Grove and West Chester East, but Kennett’s consistent onslaught was just as devastating.
After the game’s first four possessions ended in turnovers, the Blue Demons traversed 75 yards in 18 plays to open the scoring. By the time Lardani burst through a seam and capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown plunge, nearly eight minutes had ticked off the clock.
“That’s always the game plan,” said Lardani, who came into the game as the area’s leading rusher with 391 yards and six touchdowns. “If we break one, we break one.”
Kennett finally did on its first chance of the second half. Facing third-and-19 from the Twin Valley 43, Jones fooled the Raiders’ defense with a perfectly-executed fake to Lardani, who sold it well enough to give the quarterback 37 yards of running room. Lardani’s six-yard touchdown on the next play, already his eighth of the season, made it 13-0 midway through the third quarter, and a 1-yard score from Ed Niewinski sealed it with six minutes to play after Jones hit senior wideout Maalik Rochester for a 32-yard gain off play action. In the end, Kennett’s endurance made all the difference.
“That’s our system,” said Jones, who ran for 122 yards and threw for 141. “We work hard in practice, and we practice like we play. It’s the coaches, really. They work us really good.
“It feels great to come out and win this game, but we’re focused on next week now. This game is behind us. We’re going to clean it up, watch film, and go on to the next week.”
If Green’s postgame address to his team was any indication, the Blue Demons will be spending plenty of time in the film room before next week’s showdown with the Haverford School in mushroom country. A perfect - and historic - start has Kennett dreaming of bigger things to come this season. To reach them, however, they know there’s plenty to work on.
“It’s a little tricky, because you want to celebrate being 3-0, but we want to play the right way and do the right things,” Green said. “I can’t ignore (the turnovers and penalties). We have to address them, but it would be more difficult if we had lost 20-0. We’re going to celebrate the win, but we’ve got to make those corrections.
“We flew around the ball and got big turnovers when we needed them...When you shut (the opponent) out, all you need is one score, so that makes it a lot easier on the offense.”
Despite re-writing the history books, the Blue Demons to a man insisted that it was time to turn the page as soon as time expired. Though they’re new to this whole undefeated concept, Green’s bunch already has the attitude of a seasoned winner.
“It feels great, but we can’t take anything for granted,” Liddick said. “The next game is more important than 3-0.”
Kennett 20, Twin Valley 0
Kennett 0 7 6 7 -- 20
Twin Valley 0 0 0 0 -- 0
K- Lardani 5 run (Rose kick)
K- Lardani 6 run (kick failed)
K- Niewinski 1 run (Rose kick)
First downs 20 12
Yards rushing 270 198
Yards passing 141 31
Total yards 411 229
Passing 9-14-1 1-4-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 5-4
Penalties 10-105 5-35
Punts-Avg. 2-37.5 2-26.5
RUSHING - Kennett: Jones 17-122; Lardani 19-72, 2 TD; Niewinski 7-44, TD; McQuiston 6-32. Twin Valley: Philmore 17-88; Hoffman 18-61; Hill 6-44; Olkewicz 2-5.
PASSING - Kennett: Jones 9-14-1, 141 yards. Twin Valley: Hoffman 1-4-0, 31 yards.
RECEIVING - Kennett: Rochester 4-59; Clarke 3-53; Lardani 2-29. Twin Valley: Hill 1-31.
SACKS - Kennett: Werner. Twin Valley: Polisano.
INTERCEPTIONS - Twin Valley: Abbadusky.