Kettle Run’s regional win sets up rematch with JM
Senior David Eldridge caught three passes and return a punt 64 yards for a TD.
Evan Szklennik ran for a TD and caught two passes.
Senior wide receiver Danny Mattson and a Skyline defender collide.
I’m ready. It’s gonna be a hard game. You’ve just gotta fight . . . . And, for the seniors, it’s play like it’s your last play every down.
— Jonathan Grammo, senior offensive guard
A sophomore running back led the way as Kettle Run (7-4) easily defeated Skyline, 35-7, to open the regional football playoffs Friday night.
Austin Lewis scored on runs of 75 and 23 yards. Lewis totaled 123 yards on nine carries.
“I was proud of the Lewis kid tonight,” Cougars Coach Jeff Lloyd said of the 10th-grader. “That was a beautiful (75-yard) run, and he’s still learning.”
Of the long TD dash, Lewis said: “It was a big hole. I just hit it as hard as a I could and kept running.”
He paced an offense that totaled 394 yards. Meanwhile, the Cougars defense held Skyline to 159 yards.
The Cougars entered the game expecting to earn a second-round trip to face their playoff nemesis in Fredericksburg.
“It was hard to get in a rhythm, knowing we had played and beat them (the Hawks) before and also knowing we’d probably be playing James Monroe next week,” Lloyd admitted. “Having lost to JM twice in the last two years in the playoffs, by single digits, we know we have a score to settle.”
Another Kettle Run sophomore, backup quarterback Bailey Branham also played well again Friday.
Junior signal-caller Denzel Champion returned after missing last week’s game because of a concussion. Champion completed 6 of 10 passes and rushed six times for 35 yards.
Branham rushed for a touchdown and 25 yards on six carries. In his second varsity game, he also completed 2 of 4 passes, splitting time with Champion.
“He surprised me,” senior lineman Austin Goins said of Branham. “It scared me at first,” when the sophomore started against Eastern View. “But, this week, both our quarterbacks played well.”
Branham seemed even calmer and had better command of the huddle in his second outing, Goins added.
“Both deserved to play,” said Lloyd, who remains wary of playing two quarterbacks. “Bailey played well last week (in a 34-33 loss to Eastern View), and Denzel shouldn’t lose his job because of an injury.”
The duo performed nicely against Skyline (4-7). Lloyd praised Champion for throwing well in his return and Branham for looking even more poised than he did a week ago.
“So, going forward, we’ll see what with can do with them,” the coach added. He may use Champion at wide receiver in some situations with Branham at quarterback.
After an unemotional, workmanlike win, the Cougars will need everything in their arsenal against a familiar foe next week. Kettle Run will face James Monroe (7-4) in the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Last year, the Yellow Jackets prevailed in the state semifinal, 37-30. Kettle Run and JM went to three overtimes in the epic battle.
A year earlier, JM won the team’s state semifinal showdown, 14-7.
“We know it’s gonna be a hard football game,” Lloyd said. “You can’t make mistakes and beat yourself against JM.”
He’ll pull out some video to show his team — especially 2012’s last drive, when the Cougars fell inches short of the end zone on a sunny December afternoon in Fredericksburg historic Maury Stadium.
“I’m ready,” 285-pound senior offensive guard Jonathan Grammo said barely 20 minutes after defeating Skyline. “It’s gonna be a hard game. You’ve just gotta fight.”
A third-yard starter, Grammo said of the Yellow Jackets: “Yeah, they talk a lot. But, they back it up . . . . It’s pound, pound, pound every play. And, for the seniors, it’s play like it’s your last play every down.”
Seeded fifth in the 3A East Region, James Monroe defeated No. 13 Armstrong, 31-12.
No. 4 seed Kettle Run will travel to Fredericksburg next Friday night.
Kettle Run — David Eldridge, 64-yard punt return (10:08); kick block.
Kettle Run — Evan Szklennik, 5-yard run (10:20); run failed.
Kettle Run — Austin Lewis, 23-yard run (6:04); Szklennik kick.
Kettle Run — Szklennik, 19-yard field goal (0:01.5).
Kettle Run — Bailey Branham, 5-yard run (2:12); kick failed.
Kettle Run — Lewis, 75-yard run (8:54); Szklennik kick.
Skyline — Jerrius Baltimore, 1-yard run (3:23); Justin Weir kick.
Skyline 12, Kettle Run 17
Skyline 159, Kettle Run 394
Skyline 26-91, Kettle Run 42-303
Skyline 68, Kettle Run 91
Skyline 6-19-3, Kettle Run 8-14-1
Skyline 1-1, Kettle Run 2-0
Skyline 6-50, Kettle Run 11-108
Senior defensive back Justus Drakeford intercepted two passes Friday night and senior linebacker Christian Yancey grabbed one . . . . Kettle Run’s 11 penalties for 108 yards continued to confound Lloyd, who preaches discipline. “We average about 350 yards on offense and 100 yards on penalties,” he said. Flags for 30 yards contributed to Skyline’s only scoring drive Friday night . . . . Eldridge totaled 99 yards on two punt returns. His early, 64-yard return for a touchdown quickly set the tone in Friday’s win . . . . The Cougars struggled with spotting the ball for Evan Szklennik’s extra-point attempts. He hit 2 of 4 attempts . . . . De Jackson, the team’s leading rusher, gained 97 yards on 16 carries. He left the game after 2-1/2 quarters to rest a sore shoulder . . . . Kettle Run defeated No. 12 seed Skyline, 35-0, in the regular season’s fourth week.
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swag taker cuz · November 19, 2013 at 10:15 am
Good game cougars you've gotta get your d1 players the ball more if there gonna put in work David Eldridge and de can destroy any team offensively and defensively your gonna need to get them the ball if you wanna beat JM
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