FOOTBALL: Wilcox-Kaynor mounts worthy battle versus unbeaten Cheney Tech

MERIDEN — There was a feeling of dread in the air at Falcon Field on Saturday night as the Wilcox-Kaynor Tech football team hosted the Cheney Tech Beavers.

The Indians, sitting at 0-4 and yet to hold a team below 40 points in a game, opened up their field for a 4-0 team that had yet to score below 28 points in a game.

All things considered, the Indians put up a fight against one of the best teams in the Connecticut Technical Conference despite taking a 23-6 loss.

“They did what I asked them to do tonight, which was play better, play physical — and we were really physical tonight — and have fun, and I think that took a little pressure off of us,” Wilcox Tech head coach Trevor Jones said.

The first half was especially impressive for the Indians, whose defense played well when it needed to. On three trips to the red zone, the Beavers only came away with nine points on a touchdown and a field goal. Wilcox-Kaynor also turned Cheney over on downs.

“They rose to the occasion,” Jones said of his defensive unit. “We’ve got to just keep getting better.

Though the defensive line played well enough to limit the high-scoring Beavers to 23 points, the offensive line was failing to create any push for the running game. Wilcox-Kaynor took 10 rushing plays for a loss of yards, as the Beavers were getting to the backfield immediately.

But Jones stressed that it’s too early in his offensive line’s development to lead the way for the running back committee. His offensive line is built entirely around freshmen and sophomores due to a bevy of injuries that has plagued the team in the first month of the season.

“We have (underclassmen) all over the place,” Jones said. “We’re just really young … It takes time to build experience and the know-how, and they’re learning those things now.”

The linemen aren’t the only players on the offense getting used to their position.

Junior quarterback Caden Kennedy, who had limited snaps at the position prior to this season, has stepped into the role and made his mark. The Indians’ lone touchdown of the game Saturday was a 27-yard touchdown pass from Kennedy to wide receiver Brandon Alvarado on a crossing route.

The Wilcox-Kaynor lineup has been a deck of shuffling cards all year long. The Indians have played games down as many as 11 starters. Saturday was a breath of fresh air, as all but three of those starters were dressed and on the field, Jones said.

Kennedy’s presence eases that shuffling process. Wilcox-Kaynor was driving at the end of the fourth quarter and couldn’t put anything together not because of quarterback play, but because of penalties. The Indians were staring at a second-and-35 because of personal foul penalties.

That said, the offense ran choice routes, especially effective against zone defenses, and Jones raved about Kennedy’s ability to run the offense.

“He sees the field really well for a little guy,” Jones said of his 5-foot-6, 115-pound signal caller. “That’s why he’s in there. He just understands the concepts we’re trying to run. He just sees it so well.”

With the outside threat of Alvarado — whom “ain’t nobody running with,” as Jones put it —the offense has room to grow as young players find their footing. The Indians will look to put it all together next Friday at Nonnewaug High School against 2-2 Northwest United.

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