By this point in the season, Kennedy Catholic High School football has done plenty to prove it is a legitimate Class 4A contender.
Since their season opener at CenturyLink Field back in September — when they edged Bethel by a touchdown in a shaky start — the Lancers have breezed by every opponent by at least three scores.
They did it again Thursday night, routing Todd Beamer 49-6 at Federal Way Memorial Stadium to improve to 6-0 and remain the only undefeated program in the 4A NPSL.
“I feel like this was our most complete game and best game of the year,” Kennedy junior quarterback Sam Huard said. “We put on a great show and everyone just played great.”
Here are five takeaways from the game:
Huard passes two current UW quarterbacks on state’s all-time list
A five-star recruit with an impressive lineage — his father Damon and uncles Brock and Luke all played Division I football, the former two for the Huskies — Huard committed to UW last November as a sophomore, and he’s been on record watch since his breakout freshman season.
He completed 27-of-38 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns against the Titans, and his final 15-yard strike to Junior Alexander early in the fourth quarter brought his career touchdown total to 103.
Huard not only reached 100 passing touchdowns for his career during the game — on a 3-yard pass to Reed Shumpert on the opening drive of the second quarter — but passed two current UW quarterbacks on the all-time list in the process.
“He really commanded it tonight,” Kennedy coach Sheldon Cross said. “He was really dialed in. I felt like he took the game plan to another level tonight and just looked sharp. … There’s a reason he’s the best in the country, and we’re lucky to have him.”
That pass to Shumpert put him ahead of Graham-Kapowin’s Dylan Morris (99), who is a freshman at UW. The touchdown toss to Alexander put him ahead of current Huskies starter Jacob Eason (102), who once starred at Lake Stevens. He also passed Lakes’ Drew Miller (101), who played at BYU and Montana, and is now an assistant coach at Eastside Catholic.
Huard didn’t realize he was so close to such a benchmark.
“That’s awesome,” he said. “That’s a great achievement. It’s all credit to Coach Cross, my receivers, my O-line. You just get them the ball, and they do the work.”
Former Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps, who went on to play at Miami, Kansas and BYU, is the next passer in Huard’s sights. He is 10th on the all-time list, and tossed 114 TDs from 2007-09.
Kennedy’s defense has drastically improved
This was almost a shutout. Beamer’s only touchdown came in the final two minutes after the Lancers had pulled their starters.
Andrew Haver ripped off a 52-yard run to the Kennedy 3, and Xavier Watson eventually punched in the touchdown — with the help of Denny Tiumalu and the Titans’ offensive line pushing behind him — on third-and-goal. But, the Lancers blocked the extra point try, putting a stamp on an otherwise dominant defensive performance.
Remember, a year ago this same matchup was decided with 27 seconds remaining — a narrow Kennedy win in a 49-45 shootout.
“Our defense is the story,” Cross said. “It’s the most improved defense in the state of Washington in my opinion. … These kids were hungry to prove something this year, and they’re doing it week in and week out.”
The Lancers forced two punts, two turnovers on downs, recovered a pair of fumbles, and defensive back Davis Dengah snatched a pass on a fake field goal attempt and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown.
The Titans did manage 300 yards of offense — all on the ground — but were stopped in the backfield on 15 of 53 plays.
Still, the Lancers would have liked a third shutout, to add to their 50-0 win over Bishop Blanchet in Week 3 and 48-0 win over Tahoma in Week 4.
“We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and just get better for next week,” said defensive end Sav’ell Smalls, a UW commit.
Lancers have plenty of receivers to choose from
There shouldn’t be any question at this point that the Lancers have the deepest receiving corps in the state between Cal commit Justin Baker, Division I recruits Jabez Tinae and Junior Alexander, and Reed Shumpert.
Any of the four could be Kennedy’s leading receiver on any night. Tinae was against the Titans, hauling in five passes for 136 yards, and shaking off plenty of defenders after the catch.
But, Huard completed passes to seven separate receivers. Shumpert hauled in touchdown catches of 3, 3 and 12 yards. Alexander had 75 yards on six catches and the 15-yard score. Baker had a 1-yard receiving touchdown. Zaire Lozolo, Zane Thornton and Leland Ward were also involved in the passing game.
Ward explosive for Kennedy in the backup role
Lozolo has been the workhorse of Kennedy’s revamped rushing attack, entering the game averaging 72.6 yards per game on the ground, but left early in the second quarter with an injury, and was held out of the remainder of the contest for precautionary reasons, Cross said.
Ward occupied the Lancers’ backfield the rest of the way, racking up 120 all-purpose yards — six carries for 88 yards, two catches for 32 — and a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Beamer can still wear teams down with the run
The Titans drop to 2-4 this season — their third consecutive loss after dropping games to Kentwood and Tahoma — but do have offensive weapons.
Watson averaged 6.4 yards per carry, finishing with 159 yards on 25 attempts, and his longest run of 24 yards on Beamer’s second drive was one of seven times he scampered for 10 or more yards. Quarterback Brycen Dilworth collected 65 yards on 19 carries and Tiumalu added 24 yards on eight carries.
Beamer also features 6-foot-5, 300-pound sophomore tackle Malik Agbo, who looked sturdy opposite Kennedy’s relentless defense. Agbo already holds college offers from UW, Tennessee and Nevada.
“He’s a big, strong stud,” Cross said. “Heck of a player. He has a bright future.”