Joseph Bethel defeated Kennedy 27-16 in Vallejo Friday night, as both teams tried to shake off some early season rust.
On its first two possessions of the game, Kennedy fumbled the ball deep in its own territory. The two turnovers lead to an early 6-0 Bethel lead.
In the second quarter both teams struggled to muster much offense. The game went back and forth with a couple quick punts by Kennedy and a lost fumble by Bethel. As the first-half clock expired, Kennedy had the ball and was marching down the field.
Kennedy head coach Mark Carminer saw a spark in his team as they walked off the field at intermission, and told his players at halftime they had Bethel right where they wanted them. “They did not know this was going to be a game,” Carminer said. “But we knew. So let’s go out there and finish what we started.”
And as if on cue, on Kennedy’s first possession of the second half, Takkarist McKinley caught a pass from quarterback Roman Espinoza to even the score. With a two-point conversion Kennedy led 8-6, it was their first and only lead of the game.
But as the game wore on, Kennedy players started to cramp up and turned the ball over. Just before the third quarter ended Bethel retook the lead and never looked back.
One bright spot for Kennedy was Rashid Jamerson’s 85-yard kickoff return just before the game ended.
After the game Carminer said that although his team only has 19 players, each game they play will be a dogfight. And now the rest of the league knows Kennedy has 19 warriors, he said, walking off the field.
“Joseph Bethel’s coach said if we had two more players we would have won,” Coach Carminer said to his players in the locker room. “We know we gave that one away. We missed eight tackles on one play, and we did it more than twice.”
McKinley, who has committed to play at Cal next fall, told his teammates after the game that they played a good game, but made too many mistakes. “No one expected us to beat them, but we played our hearts out,” he said. “We played a playoff team real good. Now we know we have the talent to beat these playoff teams.”
Next Friday, Kennedy will play El Cerrito at home. In a pregame ceremony the team will honor the family of Ulises Grijalva, who was shot and killed in Richmond in early August. Grijalva would have been an offensive lineman for the Eagles.