Kentwood beats Kentlake 31-21 | Prep football
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
October 29, 2012 · Updated 3:20 PM
Dane Manio-Hernandez capped off the regular season of his senior year as quarterback for Kentwood's football team with two touchdown passes and a one-yard scoring run to help secure a 31-21 win over rival Kentlake Oct. 25.
Not only did the Conquerors win the game, they finished undefeated in the South Puget Sound League 4A North division. This is just the second time in school history the Conks football team finished the regular season undefeated.
The first time was in 2010. Beating Kentlake was the icing on the cake.
"Since my freshman year, Kentlake has been our biggest rival," Manio-Hernandez said. "This is our biggest rival so hopefully we'll keep chugging, have a good week at practice and just do what we do."
Kentwood didn't take control of the game until the second half, though. Kentlake scored first when Riley Higgins ran it in from 21 yards out with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.
Less than a minute of game clock passed before Jackson Huerta hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass from Manio-Hernandez to tie the game at 7-7.
But Kentlake answered when Steffin Church connected with Caleb Mathena on a 9-yard toss for a touchdown to make it 14-7.Huerta, who has scored on big pass plays and punt returns this season, tied the game up when he ran untouched by the Falcons defense into the end zone from 11 yards out to make it 14-14.
With 3:24 left in the first half the Conks took their first lead of the game when Manio-Hernandez ran it in from one yard out. That play was set up by a 20-yard carry by Dominic Lindstrom that put the Conks on the one.
It looked like Kentlake's Marshall Jones pulled in a touchdown pass from Church with less than 10 seconds left but the officials ruled that he didn't come down with the ball in the end zone.
A Mitchell Cox field goal from 40 yards made it 24-14 Kentwood early in the third quarter but Kentlake answered with a 12-yard touchdown run by Riley Higgins to cut the lead to three.Kentwood started its next drive at its own 31 yard line.
A big run for the Conks followed by a penalty on the Falcons for unnecessary roughness put Kentwood on the Kentlake 41.
Two plays later Devon Green's 17-yard reception moved Kentwood to the 30.Then just when it looked like Manio-Hernandez would get picked off, the ball flew threw the hands of a Kentlake defender and right into the quarterback's intended target, wideout Terence Grady, who took it in for a 28-yard touchdown reception to make it 31-21 with 2:04 left in the third.
"I've got so many options (offensively) it makes my job easy," Manio-Hernandez said. "Terence catches anything I throw him. Jackson will catch anything I throw him."
Huerta said defenses have a hard time containing both him and Grady plus the quarterback has three solid running backs to hand off to in Chance Kalua-Fuimaono, Ryan Dozier who is also a standout on defense, and Lindstrom.
"It's hard to stop two guys like that when you've got a good quarterback and an offensive line who gives him time to make throws," Huerta said. "It gives us confidence moving into the playoffs."
Manio-Hernandez was also able to count on his defense to hold off Kentlake's high-powered offense which scored 76 points early in the season against Puyallup and 49 points against Tahoma a week earlier.In the second half Kentwood had a pair of defensive stands in the red zone which kept Kentlake out of the end zone.
Beating Kentlake was critical, Manio-Hernandez said."It's very important," Manio-Hernandez said. "That's bragging rights in Kent."Huerta said it's also something the team can build on with the top seed out of the SPSL North heading into the district round of the playoffs.
Kentwood takes on Arlington at 7 p.m. Friday at French Field.
A year ago Kentwood lost to Kentlake by a point as the Falcons went on to take the top spot out of the North after going undefeated.Huerta said the Conks were motivated to improve after last year.
"It's the work we put in this off season," Huerta said. "We knew our goals."Winning the division and getting a better seed into the playoffs is a good start. We're small but we're going to fly around and play fast. "The other team's going to know they played Kentwood at the end of the night."
Manio-Hernandez, who has started for Kentwood since the end of his sophomore year, is ready to prove to the rest of the state what this team can do.
"We're going to bring it for the playoffs," Manio-Hernandez said. "We're a small team with a big heart. Don't doubt us."
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at email@example.com or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.