By Jeremy McDonald
MOUNT ANGEL, Ore.– Kennedy knew they couldn’t sleep on Salem Academy entering Friday’s regular season finale with the several athlete’s that they have.
The Crusaders, though inexperienced entering the year, entered their season finale winners of four of their last five after starting the year 0-3. Landon Iverson made the move from receiver to quarterback, stepping up as a leader alongside running back Chase Brown in the backfield.
“I’ve never played quarterback before; this was my first year. But it was an experience, I felt like I really adopted that leadership quality,” Iverson said. “I tried to lead as much as I could at receiver, but it just made me take more control of the offense and it was a lot of fun.
“We got a lot of new guys, a lot of young guys. But I would take any of them again, I’d play another season with them as soon as I could. They really stepped up and they battled for us.”
Salem Academy held the juggernaut that is the Trojan offense to six first quarter points in Kennedy’s 40-7 victory on this evening. It was the little things that hurt the Crusaders and gave the Trojans opportunities to take advantage of them during the second quarter.
Kennedy took advantage of three Crusader turnovers in the first half and turned them into three scores, pushing their six-point lead to 26-0 entering the halftime break. Setting the tone for the contest as the Trojans turn their focus to the postseason next week while slowing down the weapons Salem Academy had on offense.
“It was a big thing, every turnover counts. We always want to lead the turnover game, it’s always big to have. So it’s always good to take the turnovers and use them to our advantage,” Elijah Traegar said.
“We knew (Salem Academy) had some really explosive guys. We scouted them well, we got a game plan and we executed well. Helping us to prepare for the playoffs,” adds Riley Cantu.
Cantu ran for two scores and threw for two more while the senior had 151 all-purpose yards in the air and on the ground and was 7-for-13 passing. Traegar and William Schacher each carried the ball 12 times, Traeger for 58 and Schacher for 71.
Cantu and Brett Boen scored in the second half to get the running clock rolling up 40-0 with eight minutes to play before Iverson wheeled off a 24-yard run to break the shutout with five to go. Iverson had 106 yards on 12 carries for the Crusaders, Brown finished with 18 yards on six carries and two receptions for 21 yards in the air with Salem Academy finishing the regular season 4-5.
For the Trojans, they finished the Tri-River Conference season 6-0 and entering the playoffs 8-1 on the year. Staying humble is was the vocal point entering the next phase of their season as they set their eyes on returning to the State Title Game in a few weeks.
“We got a lot of veteran guys on our team. We just got to communicate well, take it one week-at-a-time and not take anything for granted,” Cantu said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald