FOOTBALL: Kentwood hangs on, stops Kentlake 30-28

His feet have done most of the talking this season. Friday night at a jam-packed French Field in front of an estimated 6,000 fans, however, it was the heady play of Kentwood High’s Mikell Everette that proved to be the difference against Kentlake in an edge-of-the-seat South Puget Sound League North Division football game. Tied 21-21 to start the fourth quarter, Everette blocked the punt of Kentlake’s Ryan Archibald, deflecting the ball out of bounds for a two-point safety. On a night of multiple momentum shifts, Everette’s big play made the biggest difference, lifting the fifth-ranked Conquerors past the Falcons 30-28 in a game between the North’s final two unbeaten teams.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:58pm
  • Sports
10/08/10 Kentwood's James Hatfield

10/08/10 Kentwood's James Hatfield

His feet have done most of the talking this season.

Friday night at a jam-packed French Field in front of an estimated 6,000 fans, however, it was the heady play of Kentwood High’s Mikell Everette that proved to be the difference against Kentlake in an edge-of-the-seat South Puget Sound League North Division football game.

Tied 21-21 to start the fourth quarter, Everette blocked the punt of Kentlake’s Ryan Archibald, deflecting the ball out of bounds for a two-point safety. On a night of multiple momentum shifts, Everette’s big play made the biggest difference, lifting the fifth-ranked Conquerors past the Falcons 30-28 in a game between the North’s final two unbeaten teams.

The snap sailed high over the head of Archibald, who scrambled to collect the ball, but was unable to avoid an oncoming Everette.

“I was coming hard,” Everette said. “I knew I didn’t want to hit (Archibald). So I got to the outside. He tried to kick it, and I was there.”

Everette was there all night for the Conks.

Moments after the blocked punt, the senior running back/defensive back/special teams extraordinaire rumbled in from 21 yards out, pushing Kentwood’s lead to 30-21. Everette finished with 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 13 carries to go along with the blocked punt and two interceptions.

At the end of the night, however, it was the blocked punt that separated the Conquerors from the Falcons, who were celebrating their homecoming.

“How about that?” said Kentwood coach Rex Norris. “How about (Everette) didn’t go for the guy, he went for the ball … talk about a heads-up play. He’s a good football player. He has football smarts.”

On Friday night, Kentwood (5-0 in league, 6-0 overall) needed every ounce of smarts that Everette could provide as the Falcons (5-1, 5-1) pushed the Conks to the limit from start to finish.

As they did all night, the Falcons responded to Everette’s back-to-back scores as quarterback Caleb Saulo capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, cutting the deficit to 30-28 with 6:15 remaining. Kentlake had one final chance to go ahead, but Saulo’s last-second heave was intercepted by the Conquerors’ Morgan Hasegawa at Kentwood’s 19-yard line.

It was a tough loss for the Falcons, who haven’t beaten Kentwood – nor come close – since 2003.

“It’s a heartbreaker to know that we’re so close like that,” said first-year Kentlake coach Chris Paulson.

Yet, there’s a certain level of confidence the Falcons will take from the loss, Paulson noted.

“I think our kids now know that they can play with anybody,” said Paulson, whose team’s 5-0 start to the season entering Friday night is the best in school history. “Coming into this game, Kentwood was playing as well as anybody in the state of Washington. To go toe-to-toe with them, I think that means something.”

Kentlake wasted little time getting Kentwood’s attention, marching 74 yards on its first possession and taking a 6-0 lead on a 15-yard pass from Saulo to sophomore standout Nu’u Vaifale. The drive was highlighted by an acrobatic catch from Kentlake receiver Austin Pernell, who outjumped a pair of Kentwood defenders to pull in a 36-yard reception on a 3rd-and-3 at the Falcons’ 33-yard line. Pernell, a junior, finished with 9 receptions for a career-high 143 yards.

“He’s incredible,” Paulson said. “I’ve seen (Curtis High wide receiver) Rahmel Dockery play, and (Austin) might be the closest thing to Dockery that there is around here. He’s just an outstanding player.”

Kentwood immediately answered, needing just two plays to score as quarterback Shane Green connected with Dalton Blackmore on a 41-yard touchdown strike less than 40 seconds later, giving the Conks a 7-6 lead.

Kentwood running back Joseph Banks pushed the Conquerors’ lead to 14-6 early in the second quarter with a 25-yard touchdown run around the left side.

Kentlake, however, didn’t back down, getting a fumble recovery from Tanner Lucas midway through the second quarter that led to a 49-yard touchdown run from Vaifale, tying the game 14-14.

Vaifale finished the night with 89 yards rushing and five receptions for 74 yards.

“They’re a very well rounded football team with a lot of athletes,” Norris said. “They have a lot of kids who can make plays. Their defense hung in there tough. I am proud of them, and I am proud of us. I think Kent is alive and well.”

Kentwood moved ahead once again on its first possession of the third quarter, when Everette escaped multiple tacklers en route to a 55-yard touchdown run, giving the Conks a 21-14 lead. Once again, Kentlake answered as Saulo found Vaifale for a 21-yard touchdown pass, tying the game 21-21 and setting the stage for Everette’s heroic fourth quarter.

Everette put the win in perspective moments after the final whistle sounded.

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s packed, there are people everywhere. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Saulo completed 15-of-20 passes for 206 yards, two touchdown passes and four interceptions. Kentlake totaled 358 yards of offense, including 152 on the ground on 46 attempts. Kentwood finished with 403 yards of offense, including 254 on the ground on 37 carries.


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