Football: Kinkaid one step from title game
The Kinkaid football team is a victory away from a second straight trip to the Southwest Preparatory Conference Division I title game.
All that stands between the Falcons and a shot at the SPC crown is St. John's. Kinkaid will face the Mavericks at 7 p.m. Friday at Rice Stadium, with the winner likely earning a berth in the finals.
"Kinkaid-St. John's is always a big rivalry game, but it seems a little bigger this year because of everything that's at stake," said Stephen Hill, Kinkaid's first-year head coach. "We usually get 10,000 people at the game, but it wouldn't surprise me to see 15,000 or more fans on Friday night."
Hill said the contest is a study in contrasts between the two squads. Both teams possess high-scoring offenses, although Kinkaid uses the popular spread and St. John's the run-oriented veer.
"We like to throw the ball a lot," Hill said. "St. John's doesn't try to out-formation you.
"They run a couple of different plays and they challenge you to stop them over and over again. They're like Novocain. They slowly wear you down."
Consequently, Hill said the pressure is on Kinkaid's defense to contain the Mavericks' ground attack, led by quarterback Joshua Winslow.
The Falcons' defensive line of senior nose tackle Matt Williamson, junior defensive end Henry Waite and junior defensive end/linebacker Wells Johnson has to apply the pressure.
Senior middle linebacker Jay Mullen will try to stop the run along with the outside backers, seniors Ben Atnipp and Harlin Lawal.
St. John's doesn't throw the ball often, but the Mavericks have used the element of surprise to their advantage. Kinkaid's secondary, featuring sophomore James Britt at free safety, junior Andrew Campbell at strong safety and freshman Thomas Dillon and sophomore Matt Ellis at cornerback, must be ready for anything.
"Our defense has been phenomenal," Hill said. "We held Episcopal to one yard in the first half (in a 21-19 win), but we're going to have to play light's out against St. John's."
Offensively, Kinkaid has lit up the scoreboard, averaging 40.3 points per game.
Junior quarterback Ford Childress has emerged as one of the state's premier passers, accounting for close to 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns through Kinkaid's first eight games.
"It's hard to believe Ford is a first-year starter who has only played nine games," Hill said. "He's come a long way since the opener and has made steady improvement. He's evolved into one of the top quarterbacks in the SPC."
Childress has capitalized on one of the conference's top receiving corps, finding sophomore Macan Wilson and seniors Glen Allen Wind and Ben Pardee often.
Wilson grabbed six passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns in Kinkaid's recent 48-14 rout against Dallas Greenhill.
"Ford's done a nice job spreading it around," Hill said.
But Hill said junior tailback Sam Eggleston is arguably the team's most valuable player. Eggleston is the Falcons' leading rusher and No. 2 receiver. Eggleston rushed 10 times for 113 yards and a touchdown in the Greenhill game.
"Sam gets 100 (rushing) yards every game and has been catching the ball out of the backfield," Hill said. "He's been a workhorse."
Senior fullback Damion Dunn has recovered from a broken foot and could be an integral part of the offense in the coming weeks.
Opening holes for Eggleston is the offensive line, featuring junior Duncan Robinson at center, seniors Henry Mentz and Will Arcidiacono at the guards and juniors Blake Masterson and Marshall Markham at the tackles.
Hill said the season has been satisfying, but he would hate to see Kinkaid fall short of its goal.
"Whoever wins the Kinkaid-St. John's game will play for the (SPC) championship. We know that much," Hill said. "St. John's has a great team, but, if we play well, we've got a chance to win."
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