Kent Island 41 — Surrattsville 13

STEVENSVILLE — Damian Ferragamo thinks Kenny Guyton looks like a completely different player than before.

Guyton almost completely carried the Kent Island High football team’s offense during his first start in the backfield.

The senior running back, also a track and field standout for the Buccaneers, jumped over a few people in the record books after 246 yards on 43 carries during Friday evening’s season opener at Andy Schipul Stadium, christening the new turf field at the facilities during a rain-soaked, 41-13 victory over Surrattsville.

Guyton added five rushing touchdowns for good measure, and his rushing total was the most for a Kent Island player since Evan Greenwood went for 254 yards on a state record 56 carries during the 2013 Class 2A East Region final at Fallston. Guyton was the lone offensive bright spot for either squad on a night marred by 37 total penalties, 23 by the Hornets.

“Blocking, moving our feet,” Guyton said of what the team needs to work on immediately. “We do well out front when we block and move our feet. But once we get beat, that’s when we hold and that’s when the penalties come in. We did a pretty good all job around, though, I think.”

Ferragamo, the team’s head coach, had one word to assess the the performance.

“I guess you can say neutral,” Ferragamo said. “Wins are not easy to come by, so, if you get one, you got to take it. We’re not happy with the way we executed, not happy offensive-line wise, which I coach, so I’m throwing the blame right there on myself on that.

“It all came from not moving our feet, little things we talk about everyday,” Ferragamo added. “I don’t know if all 37 calls were legitimate, but a whole lot of them were.”

There were 105 total plays from scrimmage in the game, meaning with the 37 flags factored in, over one out of every four outcomes ended up with laundry on the field, including a handful of snaps that resulted in multiple infractions. Surrattsville managed to eke out one lead at 7-6, when senior quarterback Ryan Otey hit classmate and wideout Karon Foster on a 66-yard catch-and-run straight up the middle early in the second quarter.

Junior kicker Tyler Wolridge’s low kick wobbled through the uprights to nudge the Hornets ahead for the only time.

“We pride ourselves on trying to keep the outside noise away, controlling what we can control,” Hornets head coach Tommy Daniels said of overcoming the penalties. “We can’t control the officials, we can’t control the weather, we can only control how we respond, and that’s what we tried best to do.”

Kent Island took over from there.

Taking advantage of two Otey interceptions — by Kent Island seniors Isaiah Shockley and Toby Skeans — and a fumble recovery from senior linebacker Floyd Butler, the Bucs ran off the next 28 points to pull ahead, 34-13.

“Game plan: we obviously knew they were going to pass,” Butler said. “They’re a pass-first team, they’ve got speed, and they’ve got players that can catch the ball. So we came in there and knew we had to get more coverage than normal.

“We have a strong defense, we have players who can play behind the starters,” Butler added. “We have a lot of energy there, a lot of spirit,” Butler continued, echoing Guyton’s sentiments.

Guyton, who opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, found paydirt a second time in the opening half when he followed the offensive line to another 4-yarder with 1 minute, 45 seconds remaining before halftime, putting his team ahead to stay.

TD runs of 15, 5 and 11 followed for Guyton, but Kent Island’s offense wasn’t exactly humming along, having lost a handoff for a turnover and committing a series of holding penalties. The Buccaneers were also shaky protecting sophomore quarterback Matthew Burnside, who was sacked twice, threw at least five times under heavy duress, and finished a quiet 7-for-13 passing for 53 yards.

“Neither one of us played very disciplined football today,” Ferragamo said. “When you throw the ball, and the whole world knows you have to throw it because you’ve got a penalty and you get behind the chains, that’s part of it, too. It was a lack of fundamentals. We were not very fundamentally sound. It’s amazing that we scored 41 points, but it’s not going to get it done in the future.”

“Out front, we gave a couple of holes, which let the blitzes come in and get a couple of sacks,” Guyton added. “We’re going to work on that in practice and get better next week.”

The Hornets finally broke the scoring drought — one spanning nearly 27 minutes of game time — when senior running back Kordell Diggs broke loose for a 58-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. Other than the two big plays totaling 124 yards, Surrattsville mustered only 56 on 39 other plays, with six of them stuffed inside or at the line of scrimmage.

“We had a three-man front, which was kind of unusual; but, it worked,” said Butler, one of the players who had a hand in rebuilding the team’s turnout after a tough, playoff-less season in 2018, the team’s first after 10 straight region runs. “It was hurtful,” Butler added of the memories being the team that snapped the streak. “This year, we’re going to pick it back up, and we’re going to be right back at the top.

“When I became a senior, I knew it was my team, and everyone had a role,” Butler added. “That’s how we all came together, everyone likes each other this year. We’re just one big unit now.”

Kent Island’s defense certainly had something to do with that, swarming to the edges to keep the Hornets’ speedsters in check. Otey, in particular, was limited, going only 7-for-24 passing for 111 yards, most of it on the big play to Foster. Surrattsville cobbled together 68 yards on 11 rushing plays, a deceptively good ratio skewed by Diggs’ long run.

“We call those self-inflicted wounds,” Daniels said of the mistakes and missed opportunities. “We clean up the penalties, we clean up the dropped balls, get a few more blocks, and we’ve got ourselves a victory.”

Guyton and the punishing offensive line was ultimately the storyline.

The remnants of Hurricane Dorian brought intermittent rain on this cool, autumn evening, but it did little to dampen the ample home crowd’s spirits as the Buccaneers slowly ate up the yards.

Guyton’s third rushing score was of a 15-yard variety, and a 5-yarder followed late in the third quarter to make it 28-7.

He put a bow on the career-best performance with 10:12 left to play, an 11-yard TD coming on the heels of three total flags and his 15-yard run from the Hornets’ 31. Senior Josh Sweet capped the scoring for Kent Island at the 3:41 mark of the fourth on a 4-yard rush.

“Offense picked up the intensity a lot,” Guyton said of the team’s strong second half after a 14-7 lead at intermission. “The line, they executed, they did what they were told. First half, we weren’t really moving our feet out front, but second half, when we started moving our feet, everything started working out.”

Kent Island finished with 284 yards total offense on 64 snaps, losing large chunks of yardage on the two sacks of Burnside and when senior kicker Joseph Garvey was taken down well behind the line of scrimmage on a field-goal attempt, the sloppy snap never getting to the holder and leaving Garvey in a precarious position.

Kent Island’s point-after touchdown game was also a little suspect, as the six TDs resulted in a failed kick, a two-pointer on a Burnside-Shockley hookup, a failed pass, senior Delano Nicholson’s 2-point pass from Burnside, a failed pass, and finally a made PAT by Garvey.

A lot of the maladies are common for Week 1, and Kent Island appears built for the long haul. Starting running back Ke’Juan Johnson was held out for undisclosed reasons, but it mattered little with the way Guyton gnashed through a swarm of Hornets.

Johnson’s talent will likely keep this from becoming a Wally Pipp-Lou Gehrig situation, when the legendary New York Yankees first baseman took over for an injured Pipp and didn’t let go until retiring 2,130 consecutive games later due to the disease bearing his own name.

Instead, we’re likely to see an RB-by-committee for the Buccaneers, their plug-and-play offense affording ample opportunities to those looking to put in the work behind a strong line.

Follow on Twitter @Ayman_StarDem. Email at aalam@stardem.com

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