By ROBERT SENIOR
KENNETT SQUARE — A well-known Chicago Bulls superstar made ‘Air Jordans’ famous some years ago. This fall, the Kennett High football team is gaining steam by keeping their ‘Jordans’ planted firmly on the ground.
Quarterback Jordan Jones and fullback Jordan Lardani combined for 311 yards rushing and four TDs as the Blue Demons moved to 2-0 on the young season with a 40-13 victory over visiting West Chester East on Friday afternoon.
All told, the Blue Demons racked up 365 yards rushing on 49 carries out of their triple-option/flexbone offense, their second consecutive outing of 300+ on the ground. Is such a pace even remotely sustainable?
“We don’t come in with a magic number, we just run our offense and take what the defense gives us,” said Kennett coach Scott Green. “My concern is that with all those yards, we’re still turning the ball over and making too many mistakes.”
Indeed, the Blue Demons did have to overcome four turnovers in the first three quarters. Lardani, Jones and friends made that task possible.
After East (1-1) cashed in Kennett’s first turnover with an 8-yard TD run by freshman QB Jon-Jon Roberts, Kennett wasted no time responding. The first play on the ensuing drive was a dive to Lardani, who cut outside and scampered up the left sideline for a school-record 89-yard touchdown run. It was the start of another banner day for the senior fullback, who followed up last week’s 210-yard performance with 181 yards on the ground and three touchdown runs.
“I have to give credit to my linemen,” said Lardani of the record-breaking run. “I had a nice hole, bounced it out—all I had to do was make one safety miss.”
Lardani’s modesty was impressive, leaving it to Coach Green to handle the accolades.
“I feel like I’ll be saying this over and over again this year,” he laughed. “Jordan is a kid that never misses a workout, works hard on the field and leads by example. He’s definitely a special player, and we know we can rely on Jordan when we need him.”
East QB Roberts ripped off a highlight-reel worthy 49-yard TD run late in the first quarter, but Kennett answered with an 88-yard drive capped by Lardani’s second TD run of the day. That quickly became the theme of the game — long, clock-killing drives by the Blue Demons, who owned time of possession in outscoring the Vikings 33-0 over the final three quarters.
“All week long, we put so much work into our blocking, our running,” added Jones, who capped off the day with his own 58-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. “To come out and play like this two weeks in a row — we feel like we’re ready for anything this season.”
The Blue Demons took the lead for good when Jones found Maalik Rochester over the middle for a 23-yard score with just over two minutes left in the half. Another long Kennett drive began the second half, but was stymied when East’s Rob Ritrovato recovered a fumble just inside Vikings territory. But the Blue Demons blocked an East punt on the following drive, taking over possession at the Vikings’ 12. Two plays later, Lardani cashed in for his third tally of the day.
Alberto Beltran thwarted an East threat early in the fourth quarter, picking off Roberts just inside the red zone with about nine minutes to play. From there, Kevin McQuiston and Jones added TD runs to close out the scoring for the Blue Demons.
“Just give them credit — they kicked our tails,” said East head coach Dan Ellis. “We absolutely have to get better going forward this season.”
“I attribute this win and our success to our conditioning,” concluded Green. “That’s one thing nobody can prepare for, and to me it was the difference today.”
Kennett 40, W.C. East 13
W.C. East 13 0 0 0 -- 13
Kennett 7 13 7 13 -- 40
WCE- Roberts 8 run (kick failed)
K- Lardani 89 run (O’Neill kick)
E- Roberts 49 run (Rodgers kick)
K- Lardani 7 run (kick failed)
K- Rochester 23 pass from J. Jones
K- Lardani 5 run (O’Neill kick)
K- McQuiston 1 run (O’Neill kick)
K- J. Jones 58 run (kick failed)
First downs 6 15
Yards rushing 107 365
Yards passing 60 116
Total yards 167 472
Passing 7-13-1 7-11-2
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 5-2
Penalties 0-0 3-23
Punts-Avg. 4-19.0 0-0
RUSHING - W.C. East: Roberts 11-67, 2 TD; Costa 9-19; Coffey 6-19; Downey 1-2. Kennett: Lardani 17-181; 3 TD; J. Jones 14-130, TD; McQuiston 7-14, TD; Niewinski 6-27; Luebbe 4-12; O’Neill 1-1.
PASSING - W.C. East: Roberts 7-13-1, 60 yards. Kennett: J. Jones 7-11-2, 116 yards, TD.
RECEIVING - W.C. East: Fris 2-17; Downey 2-15; Bird 1-21; Costa 1-5; Rhoads 1-2. Kennett: Clarke 4-50; Rochester 3-66, TD.
SACKS - None.
INTERCEPTIONS - W.C. East: N. Corialos, Ritrovato. Kennett: Beltran.