Talk about an omen.
With a sack on the first play from scrimmage, Kenai Central's Kyle Rogers set the defensive tone for the rest of Saturday's game between the Kardinals and visiting Northern Lights Conference foe Skyview. Kenai's defense held the Panthers to just 4 all-purpose yards en route to a 36-0 win.
The Kards dropped Skyview for a loss 11 times, including sacks from Rogers, Jon Wilson, Alex Nason and Kyle Dougherty. The defense forced five turnovers -- two interceptions by Dante Diaz -- prevented the Panthers from gaining total positive running yards and held them to only two first downs.
"We practiced for everything they showed us," Kards head coach Jeff Baker said. "We were very prepared defensively."
"We were stunting a lot," Rogers said. "It shut down their traps and eliminated the run."
Kenai's offense was just as impressive.
Kai Risung and AJ Hull combined for 281 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Hull, last year's small-schools state championship player of the game, ran for 110 yards and four touchdowns while Risung collected a team-leading 171 yards and one touchdown.
"AJ is definitely our breakaway guy," Baker said.
Hull said Kenai's offense was just as prepared as its defense. The Kards figured out which plays worked best against Skyview's formations, he said.
"We went through the exact same plays that they do," Hull said. "We were prepared for them all the way around."
After Skyview went three and out to start the game, Kenai scored on its first play of the drive -- twice. A sideline warning negated Tyler Glidden's 28-yard touchdown run. But Hull scored on the next snap to give Kenai an early 6-0 lead.
A blocked punt deep in SkyHi's territory turned into a two-point safety for the Kards with 2:26 to play in the opening quarter.
Like the first, Kenai scored early in the second quarter to take a 15-0 lead. The safety gave Kenai great field position. Later in the dive, Hull took in a 10-yard run for his second score of the game.
Risung broke free for a 12-yard touchdown just over a minute later. Nason recovered a Skyview fumble at the Panthers' own 14-yard line. Risung scored three plays later. Hull took in a 2-yard run with less than a minute left to give Kenai a 29-0 lead at the half.
Hull ran a quarterback sneak up the middle for a 15-yard score and his fourth touchdown of the game midway through the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
This year's team isn't flashy, Baker said. Kenai plays more of a grind-it-out style, he said.
Baker was pleased to come away with the win, especially being a conference game.
"It's hard having a conference game the first week of the season," he said. "We're happy with how it turned out."
Rogers, too, was satisfied with the win, but knows his team can play better.
"We're happy with it, but we still didn't play up to our full potential," he said.
Frightening news for opposing offenses.
Kardinals 36, Panthers 0
Skyview 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Kenai 8 21 0 7 -- 36
Kenai -- Hull 28 run (kick blocked), 10:15
Kenai -- safety, 2:26
Kenai -- Hull 10 run (Hull kick), 11:15
Kenai -- Risung 12 run (Hull kick), 10:06
Kenai -- Hull 2 run (Hull kick), 0:41
Kenai -- Hull 15 run (Hull kick), 5:46
First downs 15 2
Rushes-yards 61-353 15-(-42)
Comp-att-int 2-10-2 4-16-2
Passing yards 17 46
Fumbles-lost 4-1 7-3
Penalties 15-125 5-45
Punts-avg 2-36.5 6-22
Rushing: Skyview: Jones 7-(-36), Williams 7-2, Ferderer 1-(-8); Kenai: Hull 14-110, Risung 32-171, Glidden 12-48, Hanson 3-24
Passing: Skyview: Jones 4-16-2-46; Kenai: Hull 2-10-2-17
Receiving: Skyview: Williams 1-8, McNamera 1-32, White 2-6; Kenai: Glidden 2-17
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