Shepard senior Kendrick Washington scored three touchdowns, including a 105-yard interception return, to lead the Astros to a 46-15 victory over Oak Lawn. Photo by Steve Metsch
High School Football: Kendrick Washington’s 3 TDs lead streaking Shepard past Oak Lawn
By Steve Metsch
Although it is possible handful or two of teams will get into this season’s playoffs with four wins, no team that can still get five wins is looking at that as a realistic scenario.
Shepard is one of those teams looking at itself as one-and-done, and has had that mindset since a loss to Richards dropped the Astros to 0-4. After two straight victories, they came into last week’s matchup with Oak Lawn seeking to continue the streak, and hopefully run the table to get to five wins.
The Astros are in position to do that after defeating Spartans, 46-15, on Oct. 8.
Leading the Astros (3-4, 3-1) was the X-factor. That would be Kendrick Washington.
The speedy and elusive senior — the reigning South Suburban Red player of the year — figured heavily in the outcome. For the third straight game, Washington scored three touchdowns. And each was spectacular.
Washington was at quarterback when he scored on a 77-yard run 51 seconds into the game.
“I saw the hole,” Washington said. “It went from there.”
A 2-point conversion on a sneaky snap to lineman Jeremy Rowlett gave Shepard an 8-0 lead.
Washington’s next touchdown came in the second quarter and pushed the lead to 32-15.
Oak Lawn senior quarterback Gabriel Duer had just scored on a 1-yard keeper and threw a 2-point conversion pass to junior John McGlynn with 5:48 left in the third quarter to draw the Spartans within 10 at 25-15. Washington put an immediate damper on the comeback attempt when he returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a 32-15 lead with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
Oak Lawn coach Ryan Pattison thought the Spartans had grabbed the momentum when Duer scored.
“Then, No. 1 (Washington) takes it back to the house.”
Washington wasn’t done.
With the Spartans driving, Duer heaved a pass into the end zone on 4th-and-13 from Shepard’s 15 yard line. The ball floated past the intended receiver and into the waiting hands of Washington, who dipped and darted a school-record 108 yards for his third touchdown. It gave the Astros a 39-15 lead with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
Washington’s grit impressed Shepard coach John Rone.
“All the second-half stuff this young man did was after he took a helmet to his (right) knee,” Rone said. “We weren’t sure at halftime if he was going to come back. He played through pain and did awesome.”
Washington must be constantly accounted for, Pattison said.
“His speed — it’s so hard to mimic at practice,” he added. “He’s a great player.”
Shepard scored its second touchdown 13 seconds after Washington’s 77-yard run. Oak Lawn had recovered an onside kick at its own 45, seemingly in good shape. But on the drive that followed, Astros defensive lineman Jamil Jones stripped the ball from running back Nicco Reyes and scored.
A 30-yard field goal by junior Zander Soltysiak made it 18-0 with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
Spartans senior Gavin Butler scored on a 4-yard run to cut the lead to 18-7 with 8:14 left in the second quarter, but Shepard senior running back Xavier Rogers (7 rushes, 75 yards) answered with a 13-yard run for a 25-7 halftime lead.
Shepard junior quarterback Quran McLellan (5-for-8, 45 yards) closed the scoring with a 7-yard run with 3:18 left in the game.
The Astros, who have game remaining against Reavis (3-4, 1-3) and Argo (3-4, 1-3), are thinking playoffs.
“With this coach, anything is possible,” Washington said, referring to Rone.
Pattison hopes his team learned a lesson. The Spartans (3-4, 1-3), who are trying to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2009, have games remaining against Argo and Evergreen Park (4-3, 2-2).
“We’ve got to learn to fight down the stretch,” Pattison said. “They fought like their backs were up against the wall, and we didn’t fight that way.”