By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
For The Signal
Kennedy, La Palma (2-1) coasted through Friday’s night matchup with Canyon (2-2), hanging onto their big first-half lead.
The Friday night matchup was the first game in nearly a month for Kennedy with COVID-19 leaving its mark all over the 2021-22 season. The Irish, however, did not miss a beat.
The Cowboys had no answer for Kennedy running back Cody Masumiya, who entered Friday’s non-league game with 38 carries for 241 yards in just two games.
Masumiya continued his ridiculous pace in his two-touchdown performance headlined by a 95-yard run to the house to go up three scores.
Canyon tried to establish the passing game early in the game. Head coach Joseph Maiale called nearly no running plays until late in the first quarter. However, dropped passes, penalties and mental errors killed the Cowboys all night long.
“We just did not execute tonight,” said Maiale. “Just so many self-inflicted wounds and that really changed the game.
Quarterback Ty Sparks would start the game for Canyon in his first action since the team’s season opener. Sparks made no major mistakes, but was replaced by Canyon’s other quarterback Landon Naasz, who would man the offense for the remainder of the first half.
The Canyon offense also had two turnovers on downs in Kennedy territory, one of which came from a fumble on the goal line after a bad snap.
Kennedy wasn’t their normal self in the passing game. Irish quarterback Alex Herrera’s favorite wide receiver Hunter Benton has been a nightmare for defenses this season. Benton entered the game with 28 catches for 407 yards and most of the team’s scores.
Benton would score twice against the Cowboys but had just four catches in his mostly first half action.
Cowboys defensive end Diego Olujich was the major reason for the Irish passing woes. The senior was in the backfield all night and registered four sacks.
“I played pretty good,” said Olujich. “I know I could’ve played better. I missed a few assignments. But we just got to get back to it next week and get better.”
Olujich now leads the team with seven sacks on the season.
“He had a huge game,” said Maiale. “It’s a shame we spoiled his monster game. He’s been phenomenal all year. He’s a game changer.”
Canyon’s sole touchdown would come in garbage time with a minute left in the fourth quarter as Sparks connected with senior Dominic Burton on a long touchdown pass.
This is Canyon’s only touchdown at home this season, where the team is still without a win.
Cowboys’ running back Corbett McDaniel was solid on his limited touches but it just wasn’t enough to close the towering Kennedy gap.
Canyon now wraps up their non-league games with a 2-2 record. Maiale will have a week off to work on his next milestone, his first Foothill League win.
The Cowboys will host the Saugus Centurions Friday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.