The La Quinta Blackhawks might have looked like their traditional strong selves Friday night in a 54-6 Desert Valley League football win over the Indio Rajahs, but the Blackhawks head coach said his team still has a long way to go before his team is truly back to a powerhouse.
“We’re not near as good up front as we need to be if we want to run the ball the way we are used to running the ball,” Dan Armstrong said after his team earned its first win of the season. “Palm Desert exposed us last week. So we’ve got to get better. But we did a little better tonight.”
The Blackhawks (1-1, 1-5) rolled up 305 rushing yards Friday against the Rajahs at Ed White Stadium, mostly behind the one-two punch of junior Benji Cordova and freshman Derrick Kennedy. Kennedy scored three touchdowns, including a 48-yard run in the third quarter, part of a 138-yard night. Cordova, back from an elbow injury, gained 94 yards and scored one touchdown.
“It feels good for my team,” Cordova said after the win. “We need to work on some stuff but in the next couple of weeks we’ll get better and better.”
While the Blackhawks revived their CIF-SS playoff hopes with the win, Indio dropped to 0-2 in league, 1-5 overall while showing the struggles that have hurt the team all year. The Rajahs allowed the Blackhawks to scores twice in the second quarter after troubles on punts, one a blocked punt and another a bad snap on a punt, both giving the La Quinta offense short fields.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, the Rajahs fumbled the return, again giving La Quinta the ball on the Indio 17. Three plays later Cordova scored on a 6-yard run to push the leading lead to 33-0.
The game served as a bit of a breakout night for Kennedy, who started the year on the junior varsity but has been with the varsity for five games. Kennedy scored on a 13-yard run early in the second quarter on a sweep to the right, then added the 48-yard run for a second with just 54 seconds left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, with the game under a running clock, Kennedy broke through for a 25-yard touchdown to the left side of the field.
“I don’t feel like it is different (being on varsity),” Kennedy said. “I think it is the same. I feel like everybody, they don’t treat me like a freshman.”
“There is no question (Kennedy) has a bright, bright future,” Armstrong said. “And getting Benji back was huge. He’s been out with a hyperextended elbow and couldn’t really carry the ball.”
While the Blackhawks can still look at being one of the Desert Valley League’s three top teams to earn a playoff berth, Armstrong knows his team still is making too many mistakes.
“It’s little things. Too many men on the field, one missed block, one missed assignment,” Armstrong said. “We’ve got to clean things up, but we can get better.”
Ending the shutout
The Rajahs struggled to get any offense, gaining just 17 total yards in the first half. But on the final drive of the fourth quarter the Rajahs did move the ball. With fullback Miguel Fabian doing most of the work, including a 37-yard run, the Rajahs went 81 yards in 10 plays to score their only touchdown. That came on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Fernando Meza to wide receiver Brian Cervantes. Cervantes caught the only three completed pass for the Rajahs on the night to 41 yards.
LA QUINTA 54, INDIO 6
(LQ) — Bryan Mello 13 pass from Andrew Garcia (kick failed)
(LQ) — Derrick Kennedy 13 run (run failed)
(LQ) — Andres Sanchez 10 run (kick good)
(LQ) — Josh Cabrera 10 pass from Garcia (kick good)
(LQ) — Benji Cordova 6 run (kick good)
(LQ) — Garcia 6 run (kick good)
(LQ) — Kennedy 48 run (kick good)
(LQ) — Kennedy 25 run (kick good)
(I) — Brian Cervantes 4 pass from Fernando Meza (kick fails)
RUSHING (Carries-Yds-TD) – LQ: Derrick Kennedy 13-138-3, Benji Cordova 9-94-1, Andrew Garcia 4-30-1, Bryan Mello 2-12, Andres Sanchez 1-10-1, Cade Burt 3-10. (I): Miguel Fabian 17-95, Joseph Gonzalez, Sean Cunningham 3-10, Franklin Serrato 3-2, Moises Pelayo 1-2, Fernando Meza 6-minus 24
PASSING (Comp-Att-TD-INT-Yds) – LQ: Andrew Garcia 11-16-2-0-169. I: Fernando Meza 3-18-1-1-41
RECEIVING (Rec-Yds-TD) – LQ: Justin Anderson 5-93, Bryan Mello 3-43, Gordon Haskell 2-23, Josh Cabrera 1-10. I: Brian Cervantes 3-41.