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Bremerton's Kennedy impresses in varsity debut, rushes for 150 yards
It didn’t take long for Kyle Kennedy to get Knighted.
The Bremerton sophomore running back rushed for 150 yards on 22 carries in his varsity debut, leading the Knights to a 16-10 home win against Klahowya last Friday at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s just a wonderful thing, coming in here and doing good for my team,” Kennedy said. “Coming out here and winning means the entire world to us.”
The win was Bremerton’s fourth since 2003 and the team’s third under fourth-year coach Nate Gillam.
“We played pretty well,” Gillam said of the third-straight season opener against the Eagles. “We like to make it exciting I guess.”
All three of those games have been decided by less than a touchdown.
Early on it seemed like the Knights were doomed to another poor start, this time foreshadowed by the loss of senior running back Travis Storey, who after running for an 11-yard first down on the opening series, got nailed by Klahowya lineman Paul Kelly, losing three yards and forcing him out of the game with an injury to his right leg.
But Kennedy stepped up.
“I was trying to do good for Travis,” Kennedy said. “He’s a big brother to me. This is a good moment for me.”
While he didn’t score, Kennedy’s strong showing showed the Knights have a wealth of talent at the position yet again, even with the losses of seniors like Jamiere Abney and Jamaree Wells.
“We have pretty good depth at running back,” Gillam said.
Kennedy was banged up more than most running backs, although he had a spill on a mountain bike two weeks ago to blame. The resulting road rash forced him to play with large bandages on both arms, although he barely seemed to notice.
“He’s a good player, a good kid,” Gillam said of Kennedy. “He loves contact. He’s a tough kid. He works really hard.”
Andres Garcia chipped in with Storey out too, rushing five times for 27 yards.
Klahowya actually scored first, going up 3-0 on a 34-yard field goal by kicker John McLaughlin in the first quarter.
But costly mistakes not only allowed Bremerton to take a commanding lead, but also kept the Eagles from scoring twice.
The first came when BHS junior Tommy Hanberg found a seam and blocked a punt by Klahowya’s Dakota Pearson. The ball was batted back into the end zone, where Knight Billy Davenport fell on it for a touchdown. That handed Bremerton a 6-3 lead, as the point-after attempt was blocked.
Bremerton added another score just before the half, as quarterback Jacob Belden connected to wide receiver Dimitri Alston for a 7-yard scoring strike. The ensuing PAT made it 13-3 Knights at the half.
The third quarter was virtually all Klahowya, as the Eagles maintained a 19-play drive, counting two penalties that eneded when KSS quarterback Danny Zimny connected with Eagle Andre Moore for a 21-yard score.
That’s when errors stacked up for Klahowya.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Klahowya coach Brad Hamblet said. “Penalties and turnovers. What are you gonna do?”
Trailing 13-10, the Eagles got the ball back when Moore intercepted Belden with about 11 minutes left to play. Klahowya began moving the ball, but a costly fumble by KSS sophomore Wes Harris ended the drive at midfield.
“That’s his first time in there,” Hamblet said. “He plays hard. He’ll learn from that mistake.”
Bremerton finished the scoring with a 30-yard field goal by Brad Estby.
Defensively, the Knights kept Moore, who rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 17 scores a year ago, in check, holding the senior to 83 yards on 17 carries. Cody Hertenstein added 59 yards for the Eagles and Harris finished with 43.
“They just came off the ends,” Moore said. “They took me down from the back. They just came out physical tonight.”
Josh Koets led the defensive effort for BHS, recording two sacks on the night.
“Koets is a hard worker,” Gillam said. “I don’t think he left the field except for a few special teams plays.”
Gillam said he was pleased with his “D.”
“It’s a tough offense to defend,” he said. “It’s kind of like soccer where you set the goalie and let everyone else run around ‘em. It’s scary because when you’ve got a kid like Andre Moore, he can sneak out.”
Kennedy said the team learned from last year’s 20-19 loss to Klahowya.
“Last year we messed up on little mistakes,” he said. “We were making sure we didn’t do that again.”
While Hamblet credited Bremerton’s defense, he said his line needed to play better as well.
“Our line didn’t block as well as we can or should,” he said. “We didn’t get the push on the physical side we needed to get. We’ve got to get a lot better.”
Moore said it was difficult to overcome the two scores called back, one of which he took 91 yards on a kick return before holding was called.
“I tried to put it behind me,” Moore said.
Now the Eagles will try to put the loss behind them.
“This game is a non-(leaguer),” Hamblet said. “We’ve got to use it to learn from and get better and I think we can.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” he continued. “We got two touchdowns called back. Then the fumble at midfield. Then another fumble. You don’t win games when you do that.”
In the opener, the Knights tried to look at how to use certain players and sets.
“It’s the first week for us too,” Gillam said. “So we’re finding out which plays we want to do.”
While the win is nice, Gillam knows it’ll take a lot more than a single victory to keep the progress of the team advancing.
“We just keep going,” he said. “The biggest thing right now is number one, get the guys banged up tonight healthy and number two, keep up on conditioning.”
Kennedy said the win sends a message to the rest of the Olympic-Western Cascade Conference.
“Bremerton is making it’s comeback,” he said.
The Knights took on North Mason in Belfair last night in a non-leaguer, but results of that contest were unavailable at press time. This coming Friday the Knights will host Yelm at 7 p.m.
The Eagles hosted rivals Olympic at Silverdale Stadium, but again, results were unavailable at press time.