WEARE — The undefeated (5-0) Kennett Eagles football team got off to a sluggish start at John Stark (1-4) last Friday evening but shifted from the running game to find great success through the air, opening up the Generals' defense en route to a 34-0 victory.
All game long, the Eagles defense was dominant, holding John Stark without a first down until nearly halftime.
Through its first two possessions, Kennett was unable to move the ball effectively. The Eagles were without injured starters — receiver Justin Olson, running back/linebacker Dom Jones and all-around threat Bobby Graustein,
Additionally, Will Eaton and Heath Woodward received in-game knocks that caused them to miss numerous plays.
The Eagles' regular power running game was stymied early on by the determined Generals' scheme that loaded players to defend against the visiting KHS running attack.
But the floodgates opened late in the first quarter when quarterback Parker Coleman hooked up with Kyle Perry on an 87-yard pass, catch and run to the land of six. Two second-quarter touchdowns followed as the Generals' weaknesses were exploited by the Eagles.
On his first touch of the game, running back Tanner Bennett took advantage of a great block by Kyle Stearns and scampered untouched from midfield to the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, Braden Bailey made a highlight-reel 20-yard reception, when he fought off interference by the Generals' defensive back to reach around the opponent and pull the ball in to his possession.
That play set up a Coleman to Atticus Fayle touchdown pass that gave the Eagles a commanding 20-0 lead at the half.
Coleman remained hot in the second half, throwing touchdown passes three and four on the night. Bennett topped off a drive with a short reception in the flat that he carried in to the end zone, and Bailey completed his big night with a 30-yard touchdown reception.
The Eagles defense, which has allowed only 13 points all season, "played great," according to coach Vaughn Beckwith.
"Our defense was solid, pursuing the ball and gang tackling," Beckwith said.
Defensive ends Trevor LaRusso and Eaton, with interior defensive linemen Braden Santuccio, TJ Holland and Stearns, dominated the scrimmage line.
The Generals found themselves forced to punt constantly all night.
Beckwith especially lauded the efforts of Gaven Gagne, who stepped into the key middle linebacker position in Jones' absence and was in the midst of stuffing Generals plays with regularity.
Kennett and Bow are now the only undefeated teams in Division 2, both in the North Conference, with five wins apiece.
This Friday, the Eagles face the Southern Conference co-leader Milford Spartans (4-1). Milford has shown a potent offense, scoring over 100 points in their last two games. But their defense has been porous, allowing 80 in those games, including last Friday's 46-43 loss to Southern Division co-leader Souhegan (4-1).
Beckwith is confident the Eagles will be back to full health in their lineup for the critical test. He said the defense will be challenged to contain Milford's option offense, which features one power runner and an elusive quarterback. Expect plenty of scoring by the Eagles and the Kennett defense to face its toughest test of the season this Friday night under the lights at Millen Stadium. Kick-off time is 7 p.m.