Kennedy's Alonzo Pineda, who rushed for 127 yards on Friday, tries to elude Sunny Hills' Sam Lee (23) on this second-quarter carry.

Pineda helps Kennedy grind out win over Sunny Hills


ANAHEIM – When Kennedy coach Sean Clark was a top linebacker at Los Alamitos, he learned the value of a good, physical week of practice.

Especially when preparing for an elite rushing offense.

The Irish won Friday’s game against Sunny Hills on Tuesday and Wednesday, Clark said, when both his offensive and defensive units put together the best practices he’s seen since landing at Kennedy last season.

Alonzo Pineda rushed for 127 yards and Christian Rodriguez had a hand in every Irish score as Kennedy beat Sunny Hills, 12-7, at Western High.

“We’ve been in two really close, fifty-fifty games this season, where the game swung against us,” said Clark, referring to narrow losses to Katella and El Modena. “I’m glad we had one swing our way. We knew we couldn’t make mistakes if we wanted to beat a good, well-coached team.”

Kennedy (3-2) didn’t turn the ball over. Rodriguez, a senior, completed 13 of 20 pass attempts.

Pineda, a junior who has the grip of an industrial baler, peppered Sunny Hills’ defense with short runs.

“I tell my coaches, my front five, I tell them to do the dirty work and I’ll reward them,” he said. “‘Get me to the second level, and I’ll do what I can.’”

Kennedy held a 9-7 halftime lead, and Rodriguez kicked a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Brandon Castelo had 114 rushing yards for Sunny Hills (3-1).

“My coaches have confidence in me, and I have confidence in them,” Rodriguez said. “I trust them to prepare the game plan, and they trust me to execute.”

The Irish begin Empire League play in two weeks.

“We’ll stay ultra-competitive,” Clark said. “We’re going to have five more games like this.”

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