When two good football teams play each other with a lot on the line, I always like to see both at full strength.
That way, there’s no wondering if things might have gone differently.
So it was disappointing to see Kent-Meridian short-handed in Friday’s 38-7 loss to 10th-ranked Kentwood, which you can read about here.
The Royals came in without four starters – including No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Daigbe (rib fracture) and top running back Shamar Malik Woolery (team violation). Then they lost back-up back Gabriel Gallman to an ankle sprain after he had scored on a 38-yard run to close the Conquerors’ early lead to 17-7.
We’ll never know what a difference those guys might have made, but there’s no denying how good this Kentwood defense is. Those seven points K-M got are about average for KW opponents. The Conquerors have given up just 51 points in seven games (7.3 per game).
“Their defense is phenomenal,” K-M coach Brett Allen said. “It’s probably the best defense in the state.”
The Conquerors – who owe their only loss to fifth-ranked Federal Way (14-10) – have a strong pass rush, led by Josiah Bronson, and they pushed their interception total to 18 with the five picks they got Friday. Coming into the game, K-M QB Ben Woods had thrown only five in his previous four games (he missed two win an injury).
Defensive back Kaleb Swain was electric with his two interceptions, including a pick-six, and fumble recovery – on top of a TD reception on offense.
Allen was disappointed with the lack of fire his team showed.
“We can’t get into a big fight with our hands down,” he said, noting he was concerned by the lack of energy he’d seen all week. “We’ve got to have our knuckles up.”
Kentwood (6-1, 3-0) must win this week against Kentlake (3-4, 1-2) to win the Northeast Division outright but is assured of the division’s No. 1 spot into the Week 9 seeding games and will play the No. 2 team out of the Northwest Division. That will be the loser of Friday’s game between Federal Way (5-2, 3-0) and Beamer (7-1, 3-0).
Kent-Meridian (5-2, 3-1) has a nonleague game this week against Mount Rainier (1-6, 1-3 Northwest Division) and then faces the Federal Way-Beamer winner for seeding purposes.