Banning Thunders Past Kennedy
Three months ago, malady struck the Banning High football team, leaving a permanent impact on the team’s offensive backfield.
Brandon Moore, the team’s starting tailback, contracted chickenpox and missed the first few games, leaving the coaching staff in a quandary.
As Moore itched, Coach Joe Dominguez scratched his head before inserting Shayzar Hawkins into Moore’s spot. Hawkins, a senior, did not carry the ball last year--at all.
Yet had it not been for Moore’s misfortune, Banning might never have advanced to the City Section 4-A Division final.
Hawkins rushed for 202 yards in 21 carries and scored four touchdowns as Banning defeated Kennedy, 26-6, in a semifinal game before 4,000 at Kennedy. Banning will face Dorsey, a 40-13 winner over Sylmar, in the final next weekend.
Hawkins was ready to cast no pox upon the pox of Moore.
“Thank God for that,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t think I’d be playing at all on offense this year. I was strictly on defense.”
He started in the secondary too, making Banning’s staff look downright, well, competent. Barely.
“He probably wouldn’t have played on offense (if not for Moore’s sickness),” Dominguez said of Hawkins. “We’re not that smart.”
Hawkins became the first back to rush for more than 100 yards in a game against the stingy Golden Cougar defense, which had allowed an average of 116.5 total yards entering the game. In fact, only one team had gained more than 200 yards in a game against Kennedy (11-2), and Hawkins did that on his own.
Conversely, Banning (12-1) nearly shut down Kennedy’s run-based attack, limiting tailback Elijah Raphael to 96 yards in 31 carries.
“It was tough,” Raphael said. “They played a great game.”
Banning virtually eliminated Raphael as a factor when it mattered. Raphael had 43 yards in 10 carries in the first quarter, and over the next 18 carries, gained all of four yards.
“They shut down the pitch and took us out of our game,” Kennedy Coach Bob Francola said. “We wanted them to prove to us that they could do it (take away the run).”
Banning held a 7-0 lead entering the fourth quarter before lowering the boom. The game blew apart when Kennedy long snapper David Bourne centered the ball over the head of punter Jeremy Deach in the final moments of the third quarter. Deach was buried at the Kennedy 11.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hawkins scored from eight yards for a 13-0 lead, and Kennedy was forced to deviate from its offensive game plan.
“They forced us to play catch-up,” Francola said.
Kennedy’s ensuing drive stalled when quarterback Tavarus Logie was stopped short of a first down on a fourth-and-two keeper at the Banning 44.
Two plays later, Hawkins scored from 56 yards on a run through the Kennedy interior.
He was just getting warmed up. On Banning’s next possession, Hawkins capped a drive with a three-yard run for a score with 1 minute 34 seconds remaining, giving Banning a 26-0 lead.
Hawkins scored three times in his final four carries.
Kennedy got off the floor on the final play of the game when Logie hit Raphael for a 22-yard scoring pass.
It appeared throughout the first half that it would take a big play for either team to score, and Banning delivered midway through the second quarter.
Hawkins scooted 55 yards on a pitch around left end, eluded several tacklers near the line of scrimmage, and motored down the left sideline with cornerback Anthony Jones in hot pursuit. Jones caught Hawkins near the five-yard line, but Hawkins reached the goal line by extending the ball and making a head-first dive to give the Pilots a 7-0 lead with 1:38 left in the half.
Kennedy was held to 46 yards in the first half, 42 in 17 carries by Raphael. Logie attempted two passes, both incomplete.