09/20/12 — James Kenan reserves getting the job done

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James Kenan reserves getting the job done

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 20, 2012 1:49 PM

Early-season injuries haven't bothered James Kenan this season.

An open week helped heal the bumps and bruises, and the coaching staff promoted a few JV players to compensate for absences -- particularly on the offensive line.

Senior lineman Jaylan Williams, tight end Alton Miles and starting back Ja'Quan Williams missed last week's game. Jaylan Williams, Miles and sophomore lineman Donald Brinson will sit out Friday's game at Tri-County 1-A nemesis Hobbton.

Ja'Quan Williams' doctor cleared him to play last Thursday and he returned to practice on Monday.

"We're glad to get Ja'Quan back," seventh-year Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr. said. "(The subs), I thought they did a good job (against Union). We're going to bring two or three JV players up to help give us some depth, mostly on the line.

"When one or two starters go down, that can put you in a bind."

The Tigers have opened the season with four straight wins for the first time since 2008 and fourth time overall during Avent Jr.'s tenure on the sidelines.

Kenan's defense and special teams units produced five second-half turnovers that resulted in five touchdowns, and broke open a tight game against Union last week.

Marcelias Sutton returned a first-quarter kickoff for a 85-yard touchdown. Senior TK Owens picked up a Spartans' fumble and rambled 21 yards to the end zone just before the third quarter expired.

Sophomore linebacker Juan Hooper recovered two third-quarter fumbles and Baird Kilpatrick pounced on a loose pigskin in the same period. The three miscues led to scoring runs by Sutton, quarterback Dominique Barnes and Shaquille Williams.

"We've been talking all season about creating turnovers and holding onto the football," Avent Jr. said. "That's great when you work on it and it happens."

Kenan piled up 331 yards of total offense, including 300 on the ground. Barnes handed off the ball to eight different backs in the game.

The only downside was the red-zone offense. The Tigers left points on the field after penalties caused drives to stall twice inside the Spartans' 20-yard line during the opening half.

"There were two or three drives there in the first half where we sputtered a little bit, which really wasn't too bad," Avent Jr. said. "We just had some penalties a couple of times that stopped us. I really wasn't too terribly upset with the way we played offensively."

The Tigers are 10-5 against Hobbton since 1993 and put a nine-game win streak against Sampson County foes on the line Friday.

"We got up on them early (last year) and they came back on us," Avent Jr. said. "The little running back that hurt us last year is back. They give you a couple of different looks offensively with the Wing-T and shotgun.

"That little back can go if he gets to running."