On or off the island, Kodiak can't seem to get much going against Kenai.
The Kardinals scored their first touchdown after less than four minutes of play Saturday in Kenai en route to a 53-0 mauling of the Bears. In its dominating win, Kenai nearly broke the record it set last year at Kodiak for total defense, allowing just minus-30 yards for the game. Last year, Kenai held the Bears to a team-record minus-43 yards in their 44-0 win.
"We knew what they would come out with, we just couldn't stop it," Kodiak head coach Todd Cook said following the game.
Kenai's defense set the tone early Saturday. On Kodiak's opening drive, the Bears fumbled, threw an incomplete pass and were intercepted by Kenai linebacker Michael Scheffert.
With the ball deep in Kodiak territory, Kenai took little time finding the end zone as Tyler Chappell found a wide-open Josh Bennett for a 23-yard touchdown pass after just five plays.
After stopping the Bears again, Kenai used its second possession to showcase its power running attack. Using a power-I set for the first time this year, Kenai overpowered Kodiak as running back Dakota Craig plowed through tacklers five straight times to the Kodiak 2-yard line. Chappell dove in for his first rushing touchdown of the game, and the rout was on.
"We just ran the same play and had them try to stop it," Kenai head coach Jim Beeson said.
Kodiak couldn't stop Kenai's physical line or the bruising Craig, who finished the game with 126 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in just two quarters of play.
But it wasn't just Craig doing damage for the Kardinals. Chappell finished with two rushing touchdowns while backup running back Brandon Miles racked up 120 yards on 18 carries and also scored twice, Isaia Faumui ran for a touchdown and seven different Kardinals tallied positive rushing numbers.
For all its offensive prowess, Kenai's defense was the real story Saturday. In addition to giving up negative total yards, Kenai also finished the game with two interceptions, blocked two punts (one recovered by Stuart Stretch in the end zone for a touchdown) and sacked Kodiak quarterback Ronnie Dunham six times.
More often than not, it was hulking linemen Papapa Nicholas and Logan McKay leading flocks of Kardinals to the ball. Following the game, McKay said the main focus of Kenai's defense was coming out and playing a solid game against Kodiak.
"We don't try to expect anything," McKay said. "We just do what the coaches say and play hard."
McKay said he was happy with how things turned out on the defensive side of things, especially after a lackluster performance in last week's 31-6 loss at Colony.
"We really had a good week of practice, and how we practice is how we play," he said.
Although the defense was dominant, Kenai showed it still has plenty of room for improvement as the season reaches its midpoint.
The Kardinals racked up 160 yards in penalties, most the result of mental breakdowns on both sides of the ball.
Beeson said he hopes the Kardinals are able to improve and don't get cocky after their big win. After Kenai's last shutout a 50-0 thrashing of Lathrop two weeks ago the Kardinals came out slowly against Colony.
"We're kind of in an up and down cycle," Beeson said. "We've got to break that cycle."
With the win Saturday, the Kardinals moved to 1-0 in the Northern Lights Conference, and are 3-1 heading into next week's showdown with nonconference rival Nikiski on the Bulldogs' home turf. Although Nikiski lost Friday, Beeson said he expects the feisty Bulldogs to give Kenai all it can handle.
"They'll come out and play hard, so we've got to be ready," he said.
Kardinals 53, Bears 0
Kenai 20 21 0 12 53
Kodiak 0 0 0 0 0
Ken Bennett 23 pass from Chappell (Kim kick), 8:13
Ken Chappell 2 run (kick failed), 4:35
Ken Chappell 3 run (Kim kick), 0:19
Ken Stretch recovered kick in end zone (kick failed), 11:14
Ken Safety (ball snapped out of end zone), 9:44
Ken Craig 25 run (kick failed), 7:24
Ken Faumui 1 run (Kim kick), 5:05
Ken Miles 1 run (kick blocked), 7:17
Ken Miles 2 run (kick failed), 5:23
First downs 15 3
Rushes-yards 54-362 25-(-51)
Passing yards 23 21
Return yards 8 0
Passing 1-2-0 3-17-2
Punts-avg 1-11.0 5-19.2
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 20-160 10-62
Rushing Kenai: Craig 12-126, Miles 18-120, Hansen 6-32, Faumui 5-30, Chappell 6-21, Ward 2-15, Stretch 2-10, Rainey 3-8. Kodiak: Odell 4-14, Valdez 2-3, Keplinger 1-3, Pugal 1-(-1), No. 12 1-(-1), No. 3 1-(-2), Miller 1-(-4), Doctolero 5-(-21), Dunham 8-(-42).
Passing Kenai: Chappell 1-2-0-23. Kodiak: Dunham 2-13-2-12, Valdez 1-3-0-9, Keplinger 0-1-0-0.
Receiving Kenai: Bennett 1-23. Kodiak: Keplinger 3-21.
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