In a game to decide the District 7-A title, Kentwood made sure there wasn’t any doubt about its claim to the title.
Kentwood used several big plays, its team speed and Southern Lab turnovers to spark a 51-25 win over the Kittens Friday night at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“Special teams, offense, defense — we had to do whatever it takes,” Kentwood head coach David Currier said of his team clinching the District 7-1A championship with the win. “We really wanted it.”
Kentwood was led by quarterback Tavarious Battiste, who completed 7 of 15 attempts for 155 yards with a touchdown and one interception.
The Kangaroos also got scores from running backs Shyheim Carter, Leslie Collins and Shaquan Wilson.
And Kentwood (8-1, 5-0 District 7-1A) scored three defensive touchdowns.
“They can certainly spread it around and move it,” Currier said of Southern Lab. “They gave us some fits, but we have some speed in some areas that helped us get some defensive touchdowns. That’s what I call a complete win.”
The Kangaroos led the entire way as Carter scored first Kentwood’s touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run, giving his team a 7-0 lead.
Two drives later, Southern Lab quarterback Deonte Shorts was hit by a blitzing linebacker and fumbled the ball. Kentwood’s Javari Nichols scooped it up and rumbled 7 yards for a touchdown and a 19-0 Kentwood lead.
Southern Lab (8-2, 4-1) answered on its next possession, capped by a 34-yard touchdown strike from Shorts to receiver Curtlan Williams. On the play, Williams broke two arm tackles as he spun his way in to the end zone.
Shorts finished completing 21 of 49 attempts for 336 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
Both of Shorts’ interceptions were returned for Kentwood touchdowns.
“In football, coaches always talk about the turnover battle,” Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. “We knew from watching film Kentwood was a very opportunistic team, especially if you give them short fields. We gave them several touchdowns because we turned the ball over. That’s normally what good teams do when you don’t take care of the ball.”
Collins’ 39-yard interception return for touchdown helped Kentwood to a 27-7 halftime lead.
And the Kangaroos picked up where they left off in the first half, quickly scoring three third quarter touchdowns before Ryan Walker added the teams last defensive touchdown — a 44-yard interception return for touchdown — halfway through the fourth quarter.
“I’m just glad I was able to lead my team to an 8-1 season and the district championship,” Battiste said.
The win, as Battiste put it, was even sweeter considering he played in the Kangaroos defensive backfield the past two years before a void at quarterback forced him to move to offense.
“A win like this and a performance like this in a game that means so much is a big deal for me,” the first-year quarterback said.
“I went from a receiver and a DB last year to being the starting quarterback this year, so I’m happy those guys are able to make plays in the secondary so I can stick to offense. Hopefully that continues (and) we win some games in the playoffs.”