Frazier, Sparacino lead Kennett to 31-14 victory over Chichester09/28/2021 07:57PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw Kennett quarterback Jalen Frazier scrambles past defenders on his way to a third quarter touchdown, during the Blue Demons’ 31-14 victory over visiting Chichester on Sept. 24.
By Richard L. Gaw
As the 3-1 Kennett Blue Demons varsity football team took the home field last Friday night against Chichester, the memory of their 23-0 loss to Bayard Rustin just one week before still lingered fresh in the memory of every player and coach.
The loss served as the only blemish on the season, and after coughing up its opening kick-off, managing only a slim 3-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Parker after the first quarter and heading into halftime down 6-3, an ominous feeling of déjà vu permeated the home team sidelines.
In the second half, however, the Blue Demons took the canvas of the 30 minutes a second half of football allows and painted it with resilience, big plays and scoring, led by quarterback Jalen Frazier and running back Julian Sparacino and a tight defense that led Kennett to a 31-14 victory on Senior Night at Kennett Stadium.
For the Eagles, their offensive work in the first half was dominated by the rushing of Quadir Blackwell, Zyair Bush and Staring Reaves, culminating in a scoring drive that began late in the second quarter, on carries by all three that moved the ball from the Kennett 37 yard-line to its own 39. On fourth down and nine with 2:53 left in the first half, Blackwell tossed a TD strike to Reaves that gave Chichester (1-2 overall) a 6-3 lead at the half.
As the first half got underway, Reaves struck again, returning the opening kick-off 93 yards to the Kennett 3 yard-line, a stunning set-up to what could have staked the Eagles to a substantial lead. On the second play from scrimmage, however, Blackwell lost control of the ball which was then recovered by Kennett.
Deep within his own end zone, Frazier led his team on a march up the field, and with 2:45 left in the third, he side-swiped defenders for a 23-yard TD run that gave the Blue Demons a 10-6 lead, one that they would never relinquish.
“I saw my offensive line, bodies on bodies,” Frazier said. “It tells you about their physicality. They helped Sparacino and me just drive down the field. That was all them, becasue they just gave us open holes to run through all night.”
While Frazier and Sparacino and Kennett’s offensive line were leading the charge with the ball in the second half, the Blue Demon defense shone with big plays of their own.
Beginning the fourth quarter with the ball on its 40 yard-line, the Kennett defense stopped Chichester’s drive that forced a punt on fourth-and-26, which was subsequently blocked near midfield and collared in by linebacker Josh Barlow, who ran in for the score with 10:49 left in the game to extend Kennett’s lead to 17-6.
On its next possession, however, Chichester answered back with a scoring strike of its own. Inheriting the ball on its own 34 yard-line, Reaves took the snap from Blackwell and sprinted up the visiting team’s sidelines to the Kennett 7 yard-line, and after carries by Bush moved the ball to within the two, Blackwell scored on a QB keeper on fourth-and-two with 7:45 left. A two-point conversion was good, and suddenly, Chichester was within reach, 17-14.
On Kennett’s next set of downs, successive offensive holding penalties pushed the Blue Demon ball back, giving them a third-and long disadvantage on their own 22 yard-line. A 26-yard sprint by Frazier moved the ball to near midfield, and on fourth-and-four, Frazier then galloped to the Chichester 46 yard-line, giving Kennett a first down.
Sparacino then took a Frazier hand-off and ran virtually untouched into the end zone that jumped Kennett to a 24-14 lead with 4:53 left in the game.
With less than four minutes remaining in the game, linebacker Will Oscar’s sack of Blackwell at the Eagles’ 9 yard-line -- one of two sacks Oscar notched in the game’s last moments -- ended Chichester’s last scoring effort, and with 2:42 remaining, Frazier again handed to Sparacino, whose two-yard run served as his second TD of the game and iced the scoring for Kennett.
“After our first loss last week, it was demoralizing to be shut out at home,” said Kennett head coach lance Frazier. “We were still in the thick of it league-wise, but we needed to bounce back. It is Senior Night, we’re at our place, and as coaches we didn’t want to ruin this for our seniors.”
Despite having a 4-1 lead halfway through the season, Frazier said that he expects a tough road ahead, with a home game against Downingtown West on Oct. 1 and an Oct. 8 game at cross-town rival Unionville. His teams’ second-half performance was a good indication that his team has the fortitude to compete with a tough schedule.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games -- a lot of slug-it-out games – and I think we’re going to see that across the league this year,” Frazier said. “I don’t think there will be any walkovers or walkthroughs. Every week we have to show up. To be able to win the tough ones --- and to recover the second half like we did and play Blue Demon football says a lot about our character.
“It’s our attitude. It’s our mindset. It’s our coaches. Our kids believe in us because they know we believe in them, so any obstacle put in front of us, they have been coached through those situations. We’re the underdog every week, but we manage to get our guys to believe they are bigger than they are, and that they can battle out of every situation.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].