No. 3 Kennedy Catholic came away with a 4A NPSL road win over Enumclaw on Friday night, 41-13. The Lancers look every part of a Class 4A state title contender. Here are five takeaways from their big win.
ZAIRE LOZOLO IS THE X-FACTOR
A lot of the praise goes to Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard, a junior UW commit, and the team’s air raid. And deservedly so. Huard is on pace to be one of the most statistically prolific quarterbacks in the state’s history. And Kennedy Catholic’s receiving corps is as talented as they come. But with all the attention focused on trying to slow down the passing game, the biggest beneficiary is running back Zaire Lozolo, who is having a big season for the Lancers. His combination of vision and speed is good enough to keep any defense on its toes and was on display in Friday night’s win. Lozolo finished with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries for the Lancers.
“He works so hard,” Huard said of his running back. “He’s one of the hardest working dudes on this team. I’m just so proud of him. There’s a lot of games where he’s overshadowed by the other guys. But silently, humbly, he gets the job done every night. He practices super hard and is always prepared coming into games. He’s just so reliable.”
Lozolo also finished with three catches for 27 yards and a diving touchdown off a check down from Huard in the first half on a third down play in the red zone.
“Especially with Enumclaw tonight dropping that many, those check downs are there and I think that’s the biggest evolution of his game,” Huard said. “Zaire really worked on getting the timing down and getting all those reps to get prepared. He can run the ball and catch the ball out of the backfield and makes play.”
SAV’ELL SMALLS IS A DIFFERENCE MAKER
One thing was clear after last season: The Lancers needed to get more physical on defense. Enter Smalls, a 5-star transfer from Garfield High who spent his freshman year at Kennedy Catholic and returned just in time for his senior year. Smalls was a matchup issue for Enumclaw’s tackles all night, racking up three sacks and even when he wasn’t bringing the quarterback down, collapsing the pocket and making it difficult for Enumclaw quarterback Cameron Brauer to find any breathing room.
“He’s brought that strong, tough mentally,” said Kennedy Catholic coach Sheldon Cross. “Confidence. He’s helped rubbed off on a lot of our guys. We’re gaining confidence week in and week out. He’s a stud and he played a monster game.”
There were a lot of times last season when Huard and the offense put up plenty of points, but would watch the defense concede even more points and wind up losing. That hasn’t been the case this season. Smalls is a big reason for the improvement on the defense.
“He’s unreal,” Huard said. “The crazy thing is, he still has so much upside. He can get so much better. For how good he is now, that sounds crazy but it’s true. That’s just credit to his work ethic, but it’s not just him playing on the field. But just how much he brings out of the other guys, how much he’s pushing them and bringing that energy, that swag to every game.”
TOO MANY WEAPONS
Despite some uncharacteristic drops from Kennedy Catholic’s receivers throughout the game, Friday night’s game was another reminder of just how many weapons Huard has at his disposal in the passing game. Receivers Junior Alexander, Justin Baker, Jabez Tinae and Reed Shumpert all bring big-play ability to the Lancers’ offense. No team in the state can match Kennedy Catholic’s sheer firepower, and when teams drop numbers back into coverage, the Lancers are happy to hand the ball off to Lozolo and let him find space on the ground or catching the ball out of the backfield.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Huard said. “My receiving corps played great, the defense played great. This is a really good team we played and we’re just getting started.”
ENUMCLAW’S RUSHING ATTACK IS STRONG
The final score might not do Enumclaw’s rushing attack justice. The Hornets should win some more games down the stretch with a bruising rushing attack that gets stronger over the course of the game.
Senior Jackson McCann led the Hornets with 130 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The touchdown came on 62-yard run midway through the third quarter to get the Hornets on the board. While Enumclaw’s defense ultimately wasn’t able to slow Kennedy Catholic down, there are some positives to take from the way the line was able to run block against a stout Kennedy Catholic defensive line.
IMPROVED DEFENSE MAKES KENNEDY CATHOLIC A CONTENDER
The biggest question mark entering the season for the Lancers was how a revamped defense would look this fall. So far, so good, as Kennedy Catholic’s defense has held opponents to an average of just 12.2 points per game this season.
“I think we’re the most improved defense in the state,” Cross said. “I really do. Compared to where we’ve been, our defensive staff is phenomenal and our kids have done a great job.”