High School Sports

Kentwood 36, Kentlake 0: Conks clinch 4A NPSL Cascade title with defensive dominance

Mike Bush huddled his Kentwood High School football team together following its 36-0 victory over Kentlake.

“Hey — best ‘D’ in Covington,” Bush exclaimed.

It was met with shouts and cheers.

“Hey, hey —best ‘D’ in Kent!” Bush added.

The shouts roared even louder.

Kentwood is Kent by name, but Covington by address. And it’s hard to disagree with Bush’s boisterous bellows, considering the Conquerors’ dominant defensive performance Friday at French Field to secure its fifth consecutive No. 1 seed to the playoffs.

Kentwood clinched the inaugural 4A North Puget Sound League Cascade division title and will host Eastlake of the 4A KingCo next week in the first round of the 4A district playoffs.

“I think it means a lot to our community,” Bush said. “But we got to win a playoff game, and we have to go win games (in the) after season. Like I told the players — this is the start of our new season.”

He was thinking about each of those past four years Kentwood (7-2) has gone to the district playoffs as a top seed. Kentwood has lost in the district playoffs each time, with its last playoff victory coming in 2011.

Kentlake (7-2) enters the playoffs as the No. 3 seed and will travel to Graham-Kapowsin in the district playoffs next week.

The Falcons had the No. 1 defense in the 4A NPSL, statistically entering Friday.

“There’s no denying this hurts,” Kentlake coach Brett Thompson said. “Especially for these seniors. It’s a big rivalry game and it means a lot to them.

“This is a 7-2 football team still. It hurts to lose a rivalry game like this, but we just didn’t have a good night.”

Kentlake’s defense wasn’t the issue on Friday.

It was Darius LuBom showing that the defensive abilities that allowed him to lead Kentwood’s basketball team to the 4A state title game last year transfer seamlessly onto a football field.

LuBom, the reigning league MVP of the Conks’ basketball team, returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown and had a 78-yard punt return for a TD. He also caught four passes for 60 yards.

He didn’t play football his junior year.

“All my friends were out here and I said, ‘This is my senior year, leave it all out there,’” LuBom said.

“This is so much fun. That’s why I haven’t stopped yet. I’m glad to be here.”

Kentlake’s first offensive play of the game resulted in an interception by Rey Sekona, which set Kentwood up in the red zone for an eventual 1-yard rushing TD to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.

Kentwood ran away when LuBom scored his back-to-back TDs in the third quarter.

“We knew that was going to happen,” LuBom said of the shutout. “It’s no surprise. They were doing all this talking, we were being silent, doing what Kentwood does best. And that’s what you get.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677, @tjcotterill

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