The Cavaliers Cremate the Cougars 56-21
RESEDA CA. The Kennedy Golden Cougars knew that the Cleveland Cavaliers were not going to be an easy opponent, and rightfully so. This was not the Golden Cougars' first rodeo with the Cavaliers as they faced each other in week zero of the season with the Cavaliers coming out victorious against defending CIF City Section Division II Champions 49-27.
Since then the Golden Cougars won 8 of their next 9 games, including a 6-0 run that clinched their first Valley Mission League title and the Cavalier's only losses came in a game they probably should have won against Hamilton and to West Valley League rivals Granada Hills and Birmingham. Despite that winning run, the Golden Cougars could not find answers to solve the mystery of stopping the Cavaliers' wide receiver Kory Hall. Hall, who has continued giving trouble to the Golden Cougars from week zero, scored five of nine touchdowns leading the Cavaliers to a 56-21 victory in the first round of the CIF City Section I Playoffs.
“I feel we had a great team effort tonight,” Hall said. “ My team made the blocks for me so I can do what I do with the ball”.
Hall said their next opponent, which is Banning, is going to be a big test that will determine their fate and quest for a CIF City Section Division 1 Championship. He said every obstacle will get tough each time his team moves up the ladder.
“We made some mistakes on defense,” Hall said. “Come Monday we will get back to the drawing board and fix up what we need to do and work on moving the ball even more on offense against Banning's defense”.
In the first quarter, both the Golden Cougars and the Cavaliers started the game at a slow pace in an early defensive battle. At 2:48 in the first quarter, Cavaliers running back Donovan Powell scored a touchdown from the goal line.
Powell said he was pumped from the start of the game and he explained how he got the Cavaliers to strike first and dominate each quarter. He said it was the only way his team could win.
“I just ran hard on every play each time the ball was handed to me and I got the touchdown;” Powell said. “We knew what we were up against and our team studied their four-ten defense on film in our last game against Kennedy in week zero”.
Powell said the Cavaliers will be prepared for Banning next week. He said what he will look for on film is how Banning's defense sets themselves up.
“What I want to look for is to see how the Banning defensive line positions themselves,” Powell said. “I will look to see how their linebackers and safeties move in. The plan is to find any holes they leave up”.
Early in the second quarter, the Cavaliers scored another goal-line touchdown to take a 14-0 lead. However, the Golden Cougars' troubles on defense would continue. With 7:02 on the clock, Cavaliers freshman Cameron Green broke free for a 52-yard touchdown giving Cleveland a 21-0 lead.
The Cavaliers did not stop there as they continued to run down the Golden Cougars' defense. With 3:28 left in the first half, Cavaliers wide receiver Hall runs in for a 75-yard touchdown. Hall would score his second touchdown of the game three minutes later with only 34 seconds on the clock. The Cavaliers did not make the two-point conversion. Cleveland took a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Just 15 seconds into the third quarter, Golden Cougars Steven Garica ran in for a 55-yard touchdown. The score at that point was 34-7 in favor of the Cavaliers. Cleveland would strike again two minutes later Cavaliers Hall ran in for a 45-yard touchdown giving Cleveland a strong 41-7 lead.
Kennedy made an effort to stay in the game. Midway through the third quarter Alonzo Fuentes-Gutierrez scored a goal-line touchdown. That reduced the deficit to 41-15 in favor of the Cavaliers.
Cleveland would throw another tough blow at Kennedy's defense. With 2:45 on the clock, Hall once again caught a touchdown pass, this one for 55 yards. At the end of the third quarter, the score was 48-15.
The Golden Cougars’ Diego Montes scored a touchdown but the two-point conversion was no good and the score was now 48-21. However, that would be it for Kennedy as time ran out. With 1: 32 left in the contest, Hall would seal the deal with his fifth touchdown of the game and the Cavaliers would move to the next round to face the Banning Pilots.
Cleveland head coach Pete Gunny said he is amazed at how his team came out with the win. He said the Cavaliers played hard each quarter to get to the next round.
“Our guys came to play and they wanted to step up on their running game and we did that with all three of our running backs in the first quarter; “Gunny said. “We established our run which helped get Kory Hall going”.
Gunny said his game plan was not to give any opportunities to Kennedy’s offensive. He said the Cavaliers did a great job slowing down the Golden Cougars offense.
“Our goal was to control the clock and not let their offense get on the field; “Gunny said. “Kennedy's offense is dangerous and they are well-coached by Troy Cassidy so we wanted to hold on to the ball and not give them many opportunities on offense.
Gunny also said that Cleveland’s two losses to their league rivals Birmingham and Granada Hills were a learning experience. Although the Cavaliers will not be playing either of their rivals in the playoffs, coach Gunny said it is important his team learns how to play against opponents who play at their rivals' high level of football.
“The Division I is stacked with tough teams who play at the same level as our two top league rivals,” Gunny said. “We must learn to tackle well and move the sticks down the field on offense to get a shot at winning a championship”.
Kennedy head coach Troy Cassidy said although his team got an early exit out of the playoffs, is not disappointed in his players. Cassidy said he is proud of his guys.
“We went up against a really tough opponent,” Cassidy said. “We saw them in week zero of the season and we knew a little bit about what they were going to do. Cleveland put out a long drive to start the game and we went three and out and they put another three and out on us and we made mistakes here and there and it hurt us”.
Cassidy said his guys gave it an honest effort and did what they could. But in the end, they could not find the answers to stopping Clevelands Kory Hall.
“It was really hard to stop Hall; “Cassidy said. “Hall is a great player and there is a reason why he is going to the next level and I believe that Cleveland will continue playing in the playoffs”.
Cassidy said he will have his players ready for next season. He said it all starts with his players heading for the weight room and being active during the off-season.
“My guys will be working hard in the weight room during the off-season;” Cassidy said. “They will be running hard on the track and some of them will be playing other sports to make them stronger and faster for the next season”.
As for Kennedy quarterback Diego Montes, the season did not end the way he wanted it. Montes realized that playing in Division I was a tough challenge compared to playing in Division II. He said it was bad decision-making that prevented the Golden Cougars from advancing to the next round but he gives credit to Cleveland's defense for keeping his offense off the field.
“My decision-making was not the best,” Montes said. “During the off-season, I need to hit the weight room and improve on my arm strength and get stronger and faster. “Overall we had a great season and I am so proud of our program and my teammates. I have to tip my hat to Cleveland. They were the better team and deserved to win.“
Montes said that the loss to Cleveland would only make him hungry and even more determined to win another Championship. He said he would be back and be better than ever before.
“I will be back with a vengeance come next football season,” Montes said. “I know what it is like being on the winning side and I know how it feels being on the losing side. I much rather be on the winning side and grab the championship. I promise you I will not experience the losing side again I guarantee it.”
Cleveland will travel to Banning on Thursday, November 9th. Kick-off starts at 7:00 p.m. Last Friday the Banning Pilots came off with a 40-0 win over the Santee Falcons in the first round of the CIF-City Section Division I Tournament.
All Images Courtesy of VST Intern Benjamin Becher