Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Kennedy capitalizes on early turnovers to win season opener

Cairron Hendred and Max White reach 100 rushing yards for Cougars

CEDAR RAPIDS — The first was an early present. The second was just a bonus.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy made sure to capitalize on both first-quarter turnovers, parlaying them into a quick lead and a season-opening victory.

Defensive lineman Cam Jones returned a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown and Cairron Hendred’s first of two scoring runs came after another Cedar Rapids Jefferson miscue, helping the Cougars roll to a 34-0 victory over the J-Hawks Friday night at Kingston Stadium.

Kennedy forced four total turnovers, including the fumbles that ended Jefferson first two possessions.

“The first one was obviously a gift,” Kennedy Coach Brian White said. “I thought we played fast. The defense played fast and that’s what we’re predicated on.”

Jones has one touchdown in his varsity career, catching a scoring pass last season. He was as surprised as anyone when he doubled that total.

Jones shot through the line of scrimmage and plucked a bobbled ball from the hands of Jefferson quarterback Jacob Coyle out of the air. All that was in front of him was open field and a small convoy of teammates by his side.

“He had a bobbled snap,” Jones said. “It landed in my lap and gave me the opportunity to go back with it. It just went straight in my hands.

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“I was thinking about not dropping the ball, get in the end zone and get some points.”

Two plays later, Jefferson coughed up the ball again at its own 21. Seven plays later, Hendred bounced outside on a counter play and scored on a 9-yard run for a 13-0 lead.

“We had a little momentum, so we had to get it going,” Hendred said. “My name was called. We got it in.”

Hendred was one of two 100-yard rushers for the Cougars. He finished with 145 yards on 19 carries, including a 70-yard TD, giving the Cougars a 20-0 lead at halftime.

“We had a great push from the (offensive) line,” Hendred said. “I saw the hole, got a cut and I was gone.”

Max White joined Hendred, amassing 100 yards on 13 carries. White closed the scoring with a 14-yard score in the fourth. Shamariyon Graham added a 5-yard TD run for Kennedy, which totaled 233 yards on the ground and averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry behind a big, strong offensive line.

“It’s a good and solid group,” White said. “The best thing about it is they know they still need to get better. They have a ways to go. It was nice having two 200 yard rushers with Cairron and Max, but we have to get better.”

Kennedy held Jefferson to just 182 yards of total offense. The early advantage allowed the Cougars to pin their ears back and bring a lot of pressure. White, who returned to making defensive calls, was able to take more chances, especially on third down.

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“We were blitzing from all over the place,” White said. “We got some good shots on the quarterback because of it. I was able to open the flood gates when we got that lead.”

Jefferson dropped its first game under head coach Chris Buesing. The effort was there, but the execution was not. The J-Hawks made too many mistakes and allowed too many big plays.

“I thought we played poorly and that’s the disappointing thing,” said Buesing, noting that the staff has to do some things better to help the players. “I think we’re a better football team than what we played like. I thought the guys gave effort and I’ll recognize them for that, but our execution all night long wasn’t very good.”

Coyle managed 103 total yards, including 84 in the air for Jefferson.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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