By Zach Chouteau
In a game marked by a constant downpour and safeties scored by both sides, Kennedy High saw its dream season end in a defensive standoff with Piedmont High Saturday evening in the North Coast Section Division IV quarterfinals.
The 16-8 win by the Highlanders ended an Eagles year that included a 10-2 record and first league title in 28 years.
Hosted at Kennedy High in a solid monsoon, the game’s outcome was up for grabs until a Kennedy INT thrown in the final minutes. Turnovers were a key part of the game, which was tied 0-0 until a high snap by Kennedy early in the second quarter was bobbled by the punter and lost out of the back of the end zone.
The Eagles rebounded with a nice scoring drive capped by a three-yard touchdown scamper by QB Micah Barnes midway through the second quarter; a tipped extra point attempt kept the lead at 6-2 Kennedy, a score that held up until the half.
Kennedy upped the margin to 8-2 several minutes into the third period, with Tre’Vante Daniels and Larry Washington Jr. combining on an end zone tackle. While the small but vocal crowd let loose in celebration, it would serve as the Eagles’ last score of the season.
The final frame belonged to the visiting Highlanders, who scored on a short rushing TD two minutes into the fourth by RB Willy Matsuno —followed by a converted point after by Gordon Faust giving them a slim 9-8 edge.
Matsuno found paydirt on another short burst a few minutes later followed by another Faust extra point, making the score 16-8. And following a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful final drive, the Eagles’ best season since 1988 came to an end on a rainy Richmond night.