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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Simon Kenton blanks Ryle to remain unbeaten

Written by
Marc Hardin
Enquirer contributor
The unbeaten Simon Kenton football team accomplished something Friday night that it hasn't done in more than 25 years, and Ryle was the unfortunate witness as the Pioneers ruined the Raiders’ homecoming at Borland Stadium in Union.

In the district opener for both teams, Simon Kenton won its sixth game in a row with a 20-0 conquest for its first shutout since October of 2010 and first 6-0 start since the 1980s.
The Pioneers began the game with a jolt on Jared Swanson's 95-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown. It was Swanson’s second kick return for a score this season. He ran one back 91 yards against Beechwood.

The Simon Kenton defense put the ball in the hands of the offense on the ensuing series when Barry Deaton recovered a Raiders fumble at the Ryle 31. Five plays later, Andrew Sampson’s 17-yard scoring scamper put the Pioneers back in the end zone.

Just like that, Simon Kenton (6-0), fourth in the Northern Kentucky coaches’ poll and sixth in the statewide Class 6A rankings, was ahead 13-0 against Ryle, ranked sixth locally. The Raiders (2-3) remained winless at home.

“We were really looking forward to winning the first district game, and it’s our homecoming, but they got two quick scores on us,” said Ryle’s Ryan Hill, who split quarterback duties with Nathan Davis. “Everybody's pretty disappointed.”

The Pioneers received a huge break when the Raiders were whistled for a penalty, negating Hill’s 80-yard scoring run on the final possession of the first half.

Simon Kenton extended its lead to 20-0 on a nine-yard fourth-quarter TD run by Sampson and the defense locked up the shutout, giving the Pioneers their longest winning streak since taking eight in a row in 2009.

Sampson finished with 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns, giving him 11 scores on the season.

The six straight wins to start the season is notable for Simon Kenton. From 1990 to 2007, the Pioneers won more than six games in a season just once, in 1993, when they finished 8-4.

“We won the first five games in 2000 and we seven in a row sometime in the 1980s, but we lost the last four and missed the playoffs,” Simon Kenton coach Jeff Marksberry said. “No doubt, it’s a good start for us.”

The contest featured strength against weakness. The Pioneers entered play with the third-toughest Class 6A defense to score on with a total yield of 58 points. Ryle came in tied for third fewest points scored among big schools with 55.

Friday’s defensive struggle produced 326 total yards as Simon Kenton dared Ryle to pass by putting as many as 10 defenders in the box. The Pioneers held the Raiders to 74 first-half yards, 134 total, while outgaining Ryle with 192.

“After we got the kickoff, the defense took over,” Swanson said. “It feels great to be 6-0.”

The win snapped Simon Kenton's seven-game losing streak against regional opponents. The Pioneers dropped all six regional contests last season and lost to Ryle in the 2010 finale.

“We’ve got to keep this up because we're not done,” Sampson said. “We have big goals this year.”

Simon Kenton 13 0 0 7 --20
Ryle 0 0 0 0 --0

S-Swanson 95 kickoff return (Smith kick)
S-Sampson 17 run (kick failed)
S-Sampson 9 run (Smith kick)


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