Vikings give JFK ‘whupping’

LEAVITTSBURG — The message in the LaBrae locker room heading into Friday night’s matchup with the John F. Kennedy Eagles consisted of two words: unfinished business.

The Vikings’ senior class hadn’t beaten the Eagles yet — the only team it hadn’t enjoyed success against despite playing tight games. Two of the three previous meetings ended in one-possession losses, including last year’s overtime defeat.

The 2018 matchup wasn’t as close as the previous meetings, but this time the Vikings finished their business. LaBrae posted four touchdowns in the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 55-14 win over Kennedy.

“I love putting a good whupping on them, especially because they snuck one out from us last year in overtime,” senior quarterback Kent Wolford said. “I thought we should have had that one last year, but I’m happy to get the win this year, happy to bounce back.”

Wolford played a big role in the rout, having a hand in all seven of LaBrae’s first-half scores. He tossed four touchdown passes — three in the first quarter alone — and added another three (36, 11 and 37 yards) on the ground.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior went 9-of-12 passing for 251 yards and scampered for 130 yards on seven carries.

LaBrae (2-0) coach John Armeni praised the two-year letterwinner for his performance.

“We always knew that (Wolford) was capable of this high level,” Armeni said. “He had a great year last year. He’s come into this year, hit the ground running, and he gets better little by little. So, we always expect big things from him.”

For his part, Wolford credited others for his statistical performance, especially his skill players.

Multiple times his receivers turned small gains into big ones, including twice by Benton Tennant. On the first play from scrimmage, the senior caught the ball near the sideline and duked a couple of Kennedy (1-1) defenders before heading to the goal line for a 50-yard score. Then, two drives later on a screen pass, Tennant cut inside and slipped back outside while outrunning the Eagle defense for a 70-yard touchdown.

Wolford also pointed to receivers Tyler Stephens (who took a screen pass for a 37-yard score) and Walt Allie and tight end Damian Airwyke, as well as the offensive line, for helping him put together the performance he did.

“Most of that wasn’t me,” Wolford said. “I get the ball out to my athletes on the outside, and they make plays. They’re some of the best athletes in this county, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them. And my line, too — they get me in the end zone more than I get myself in the end zone.”

Kennedy found itself in a hole early, as the Vikings had a 41-0 lead by the 7:29 mark in the second quarter. It didn’t help that the Eagles had a punt blocked and also lost three fumbles (including one off a kickoff), and LaBrae took advantage by scoring three times off those miscues — two times on the following play.

Eagle coach Jeff Bayuk said LaBrae did what most good teams do in some situations.

“When you play a good team like that and they get up on you, they did the right thing — they stepped on the gas pedal and never gave us any life,” Bayuk said. “That’s a sign of a good football team.”

With one bit of business complete, LaBrae turns its attention toward Lakeview, another team that has gotten the better of it recently. The Vikings have lost to the Bulldogs the past two seasons, including a 28-point defeat last season.

Wolford said he remembers that one and added he hopes to return the favor next week.

“They’re always good,” Wolford said of Lakeview. “They always find a way to sneak something out from us — last-second touchdown two years ago. They put a whupping on us last year, so I’m hoping to give them one this year.”