By Ted Apodaca
Kennedy High struggled early and Aliso Niguel took advantage to grab an early lead that led to a 37-20 non-league football win on Thursday at Western High School.
Kennedy (2-8 last year) was coming off a win over Artesia and was looking to improve on a 1-1 record. Aliso Niguel came into the game at 2-0 and was the No. 2 ranked team in CIF-SS Division 9 rankings.
Kennedy was able to shore things up a bit in the second half, but the Wolverines kept the pressure on with big plays that kept the Fighting Irish at bay. Kennedy trailed 23-0 at halftime, but came out in the second half looking to get back in the game.
“We gave them two touchdowns on special teams, … that hurt us,” Kennedy coach Bob Sykes said.
They took the second-half kickoff and turned good field position into a big strike as Ray Adalpa broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 23-7. But the wolverines struck right back with a 56-yard touchdown run by Eduardo Mayen to push the lead back to 30-7.
Kennedy would get another spark of their own, as Adalpa returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead back to 30-14. But the Wolverines again hit back quick, this time with a 75-yard touchdown on a short screen pass to Max Carvalho to extend the lead back to 37-14.
Despite the loss, Sykes praised his team for playing hard throughout the game. He said there is a lot of character in the players and that the future is bright for the Fighting Irish.
“I thought we played a very good football team and we hung in there,” Sykes said.
Kennedy will play Magnolia on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Handel Stadium. Magnolia will be the home team.
Aliso Niguel maintained the No. 2 rank in CIF-SS Division 9 this week and had a home game against Santa Ana, on Friday at 7 p.m. Santa Ana is ranked No. 5 in this week’s CIF-SS Division 8 poll.