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Albano notes: Kennedy savors 'surprising' victory
It was arguably the most surprising result from Orange County’s thrilling Friday of football.
Kennedy, coming off a 42-point loss against Valencia, stunned surging Pacifica, 27-20, to leap into the playoff race in the Empire League.
Pacifica (5-2, 1-1), ranked ninth last week in the CIF-SS Southwest Division, led, 20-10, in the second half before the Fighting Irish (3-4, 1-1) rallied behind running back Anthony Johar and a swarming defense led by middle linebacker Louie Aldapa.
For a program that has missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons and with a first-year coach, it was a huge moment on a homecoming night.
“I think it was surprising to a lot of people,” said Kennedy coach Sean Clark, who at 29 is one of the county’s youngest coaches.
“But our kids never stopped working, they never stopped believing. They knew going into that game that they could win it. … It was a big win for us.”
Johar rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries against Pacifica, also an outstanding rushing team. Johar bounced back after a fumble in the third quarter.
“He comes up to me and says, ‘Coach, don’t worry. I’m going to get it back,’” Clark said of the senior who also plays safety. “He kind of took that game over in the second half.”
Kennedy’s defense held Pacifica – led by dual-threat quarterback Nick Garcia -- without a first down on its final four possessions.
Clark, a former standout linebacker at Los Alamitos, praised Aldapa, defensive end John Kim and defensive tackle Legend Young. Aldapa recorded 12 tackles and has 71 overall.
“As he goes emotionally, our team goes,” Clark said of Aldapa, a senior.
Kennedy plays at Western (1-6, 0-2) on Thursday and then takes on rival Cypress (2-5, 0-2) on Oct. 30. The Fighting Irish has lost to Cypress the past seven years. Kennedy’s last victory against Cypress came in 2007, Mitch Olson’s final season with Kennedy before departing to coach in Georgia.
“We control our own destiny,” Clark said. “Last week was a playoff game for us. Every week going forward is a playoff game us. There’s a lot of parity in the Empire League, maybe outside of Valencia. … Our kids are focused for this week. They’re fired up. You can just see the look in their eyes that they’re hungry.”
SMALL SCHOOL SHOWDOWN
Undefeated Brethren Christian (7-0) plays host to St. Margaret’s (6-1, 1-0) at Ocean View High on Saturday at 7 p.m. with contrasting offensive stars and some intriguing history.
The Warriors are led by junior running back Jordan Leonard, a transfer from Los Alamitos who has 1,417 yards rushing on only 97 carries (14.6 yards per carry).
The Tartans feature quarterback George Krantz, who has passed for 29 touchdowns.
In the teams’ Academy League game last season, Brethren Christian led by 18 points in the first half, but the Tartans rallied for a 38-28 victory that helped spark their run to the CIF State Division IV bowl game.
“We hoping to have a better ending this year,” Brethren Christian coach Pat McInally said. “We let them off the hook (last season). ... We just got tired. We’re a little deeper this year.”
Tickets for Friday’s Mater Dei-Servite game at Angel Stadium at 7 p.m. can be purchased at the schools this week. Tickets will be sold at the Meruelo Athletic Center at Mater Dei and the Servite athletic office for $15 reserved, $10 general admission and $5 student with ID. Visit servitehs.org and materdei.org for sale schedules and more information.
The house of Costa Mesa coach Glen Fisher was vandalized over the weekend, The Daily Pilot reported. The Mustangs lost to Estancia, 23-0, in the team’s Battle for the Bell game Friday. Fisher told the paper that his house was egged and that a parking sign was left in his front yard. He estimated that the cost of the cleanup and repair would be at least $1,000. ...
Fountain Valley defensive tackle Keiti Iakopo had two sacks in a 20-7 victory against Los Alamitos last week and was matched against one of the Griffins’ best linemen so the Barons could slow the ground attack. “He was the key to stopping Los Alamitos’ offense,” Fountain Valley coach Ray Fenton said. …
Junior safety Eli Anderson was La Habra’s top defensive player in a 48-14 victory against Buena Park last week. He had six tackles, two sacks and broke up two passes. …
Capistrano Valley Christian’s Ben Sukut, an Arkansas State commit, did not play last week against Fairmont because of an injury. …
Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson (322 victories) enters the week one victory behind county-leader John Barnes of Los Alamitos (323).
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