Two weeks ago, after getting shellacked by Chiawana 37-0, Kennewick Coach Randy Affholter said his team needed to get back to the basics, like learning how to practice the right way.
Somewhere along the way, the Lions bought in. It showed on Friday night, as Kennewick trounced visiting Kamiakin 42-18 in a Mid-Columbia Conference football game at Lampson Stadium.
“We started coming out and getting better in practice,” said Affholter, whose team improves to 3-1 in MCC play.
“Tonight, our goal was to control the football as much as possible.”
They certainly did.
The Lions held the ball for 30 minutes and 15 seconds; the Braves for just 17:45.
What that did was force Kamiakin out of running the ball with star tailback Tuna Altahir (he had 12 carries for 37 yards rushing) and into a passing game – that, while it clicked last week in a 55-41 win over Hanford, could not find a rhythm against the Lions.
Kennewick’s defense harassed Kamiakin sophomore QB Henry Mercado from the outset, putting pressure on him so he couldn’t get comfortable in the pocket and was forced to throw on the run.
The Lions’ D had five pass breakups, a pass batted down, a cover, two QB sacks, two more tackles for losses, and a forced fumble.
Kennewick led from the outset, when quarterback Blaine Chavez found a wide open Bryson Knapik for a 9-yard touchdown.
Chavez finished with three TD passes (one each to Knapik, Simeon Howard and Max Mayer), and he scored another.
But it was the Lions’ rushing game that did a lot of damage. Sophomore running back Myles Mayovsky carried the ball 30 times for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns.
And while Mayovsky did a yeoman’s job, it was that big Lions offensive line – tackles Baiden McElroy and Baylor McElroy, guards Ethan Mabbitt and Austin Schoffstall, and center Alex Fouts – that controlled the line of scrimmage.
At times, Mayovsky wouldn’t get touched by a Kamiakin defender until he was 4 yards downfield.
“Up front, our guys just moved the line,” said Chavez.
Kaleb Stevenson, Kennewick’s standout linebacker who also got to carry the football a few times, agreed.
“We just fell forward,” he said.
Even Kamiakin Coach Scott Biglin was impressed with Kennewick’s line play.
“They just pushed up front,” Biglin said. “They did a great job.”
His Braves fall to 2-1 in MCC play, 3-1 overall.
Now they have to get ready to play a surging Pasco team (3-0 MCC, 3-1 overall) next week.
“I told our guys after the game ‘That’s life. You just got punched in the mouth. How do you respond?’” Biglin said. “Kennewick did everything we thought they would. They’re a good football team.”
Affholter called it a great response from the Chiawana loss, and it might have been the perfect practice week for every one of his Lions.
“Our Scout team did a great job at practice preparing us (for Kamiakin),” said Affholter.
Chavez said Kennewick is now ready to roll after that Week 2 stumble.
“We figured out our culture,” he said. “We overcame adversity.”
The contest certainly wasn’t a clean one. Officials tossed penalty flags 37 times for a total of 313 yards. The Lions were flagged 21 times for 185 yards. The Braves had 16 penalties for 128. … Chavez finished with 207 yards passing. Junior Elijah Tanner was Chavez’s favorite target, catching 4 passes for 94 yards. … DL Jagger Child’s led Kennewick with 5 tackles (one for loss), and a pass batted down. Stevenson also had five tackles. … Because they were out on the field so long, Kamiakin’s defensive players had some bigger numbers. Altahir had 7 tackles and a pass breakup from his safety position. DB Aidan Leonard added 7 tackles and cover, while LB Kale Crawford had 6 tackles (one for loss) and a QB sack. … Kennewick travels to Davis in a non-league affair next Friday. Pasco visits Kamiakin next Friday.