ENUMCLAW — The running game has become essential to the fourth-ranked Kennedy Catholic football team and its upward trajectory.
Everyone knows that with five-star junior quarterback Sam Huard that the Lancers can air it out, but the balance with senior running back Zaire Lozolo has been essential to the team’s growth.
On a night where Kennedy’s receiving corps had the drops, it was Lozolo along with linebacker Sav’ell Smalls more than doing their usual share as the Lancers dropped eighth-ranked Enumclaw 41-13 in a North Puget Sound League Mountain Division showdown on Friday night at Enumclaw Stadium.
Lozolo, a shifty 5 foot 9, 195 pounder, supplied 150 yards rushing on 22 carries and three touchdowns (including one receiving), sparking the Lancers (5-0, 2-0 NPSL) early. Lozolo credits working with former Bellevue assistant coach Pat Jones, now a Kennedy assistant, for the Lancers’ improved running game.
“Coach Jones is a great coach, coming from Bellevue and that wing-T offense,” said Lozolo. “He’s brought a lot to our run game and our scheme. He’s been great helping out with the line and with me, helping me get my reads right. And, our line has picked it up tremendously this year.
“I’m happy (to run more), but anything for the team. It’s great to get more touches this year, but for me it’s whatever the team needs for the win.”
Lozolo’s touches mainly came in the passing game — and sometimes just as a blocker — last season. He has 362 yards rushing and six TDs this season.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Smalls, the five-star recruit who recently committed to the University of Washington, brought an attitude on defense and supplied three sacks and a blocked punt. Smalls started his career at Kennedy and transferred to Garfield for two years before coming back to the Lancers for his senior season.
“He just gives us that strong, tough mentality,” Kennedy coach Sheldon Cross said. “I think he’s helped rub off on a lot of our guys that were already going to be confident. You can see we are gaining confidence week in and week out. He is a stud. He played a monster game tonight. His confidence is contagious.
“Our defense played great again.”
The Kennedy effort was another step toward being a more complete team, downing the defending Mountain Division co-champion Hornets (4-1, 1-1) with relative ease. The Lancers limited Enumclaw to 69 yards of total offense in the first half, building a 21-0 advantage by halftime.
Smalls had a big hand in the Lancers hiking their lead to 21-0 by the 5:29 mark of the second quarter.
Smalls blocked an Enumclaw punt and AJ Keys recovered it at the Hornet 28. Four plays later Lozolo hurled himself into the end zone for a 16-yard TD pass play from Huard with 1:47 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
The Lancers’ lead grew to 21-0 on Huard’s 29-yard scoring strike to Junior Alexander, who juked his way into the end zone over the final 10 yards with 5:29 left in the first half, after Smalls’ second sack of the evening.
Lozolo carried the ball 13 times for 90 yards rushing and added three receptions for 28 yards before the break as Kennedy outgained the host Hornets 248 yards to 69 in total offense.
“We’re going to take what people give us,” Cross said of the Lancers’ going to the run in the first half.
Huard finished 13 of 28 for 225 yards and three TDs in a much different contest than the Hornets’ 57-48 shootout win last season.
Jackson McCann got free over the left side and scooted 62 yards for a touchdown with 7:17 left in the third quarter as the Hornets trimmed the Kennedy lead to 21-7. That ended the Lancers’ streak of holding league opponents scoreless at 10 quarters.
Lozolo rushed up the middle for an 8-yard TD to push the Lancers lead to 35-7 with 1:52 left in the third quarter. Lozolo crashed in for a 1-yard TD run — his third score of the night — to give Kennedy a 41-7 lead with 11:54 left in the game. He also had 55 yards rushing on the team’s opening scoring drive, which took just 1:36.