Kennedy pitches their fifth shutout of season, beat Trinity

WARREN – The John F. Kennedy Eagles dominated the Trinity Trojans right from the start in their 44-0 blowout victory at Mollenkopf Stadium on Friday night. The Eagles put up 23 points in the first quarter alone.

“Too many self-inflicted wounds,” Trinity coach Kevin McSweeney said. “That first quarter we came out and opening kickoff, you can’t fumble the opening kickoff, we had the bad snap and a safety. It was not a good opening quarter for us, not good. We have to take care of the football, plain and simple.”

The Trojans (1-5, 0-1) fumbled away the opening kickoff, setting up the Eagles at the Trinity 36. Evan Boyd had back-to-back runs, first a 13-yarder and then a 10-yard touchdown run to quickly put the Eagles ahead, 7-0.

Trinity’s second drive resulted in a punt, but a high snap rolled into the end zone, and while it appeared the Kennedy defender recovered before the ball before it rolled out of bounds, it was ruled a safety, instead.

On the ensuing safety kick, Dan McCartney took it from his own 45 and proceeded to explode up the far sideline as he took the 55-yard return to the house for the score. Another Trinity punt quickly put Kennedy back in business, as the Eagles drove 33 yards for the final score of the quarter, thanks to a Thomas Yanovich 8-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 23-0.

The Eagles added another touchdown midway through the second quarter, as Valent found Hyland Burton wide-open on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Valent then came out and sprinted up the middle for a 56-yard touchdown run to open the second half, giving Kennedy a 37-0 lead.

“This is my first year of playing varsity football, so I’m learning every week. I had to bounce back from last week, (which was) not good for me,” Valent said, smiling. “I took that as a learning experience and came out tonight (and played well).”

Valent, who was referring to Kennedy’s ugly 14-0 win against Steubenville Catholic Central a week ago, had a career night, a he went 8-for-10 for 115 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 87 yards on nine carries and another score.

The Eagle run defense had another exceptional performance, as they held the strong Trinity running game to 115 yards, and did not allow a single passing yard.

“It allows you to do things on special teams and on offense (that you) might not normally do,” Kennedy coach Jeff Bayuk said about his defense.

“Because, you know you have a solid defense behind you. It’s great to have our kids playing as hard as they are on the defensive side of the ball.”

Kennedy (6-0, 1-0) now has five shutouts this season, including three straight, and they’ve only allowed seven points for the entire year.

The Eagles are now second in Division VII, Region 25, trailing only Mogadore, the team that eliminated them from the postseason a year ago. While Bayuk was pleased with his team’s performance, he knows that every week only gets tougher from here, and he believes that his squad still has plenty of growing to do.

“We (Kennedy) need to get better every week, we took a step back last week, I thought. This week, I thought we came out and did what we needed to do,” Bayuk said. “But, we left a lot of plays out on the field (tonight). We’re just gonna keep working on improving and getting better each week.”