Coach Richard Barrett has put together quite a run at Kennedale, which has made the playoffs 16-consecutive seasons. And barring something catastrophic, the Wildcats will make it No. 17 this fall.
Of their impressive run that includes many deep postseason runs, the 2016 campaign will go down on paper as the best so far. Kennedale made it to the state semifinals for the first time in school history, falling to eventual state runner-up Abilene Wylie, 21-13.
Though the Wildcats had an overall record of 11-4, the other three losses were to 4A DII state champ West Orange-Stark, 4A power Alvarado and 5A playoff team Whitehouse — all in non-district.
Kennedale cruised through District 5-4A DI, shutting out four of its five opponents. The Wildcats crushed Wilmer-Hutchins 63-0 in another shutout to open the playoffs, allowed just a touchdown in a close win over Terrell, won a shootout over a very salty Midlothian Heritage team and outslugged Van in the quarterfinal.
Kennedale loses a lot of talent on its defense that allowed only 18 points a game, but they return all key components of an offense that rang up 37 a game and averaged 375 yards rushing.
OLB Baron Browning, LB Michael Landers
Browning was hands-down the headliner of the stout defense. The 5-star recruit left school early to enroll last spring at Ohio State. Landers led the Wildcats in tackles.
OL Andrew Flannigan, DE Mayfield Hayes, QB Evan Jowers
The Wildcats rushed for 5,500 yards in 2016, and the top seven rushers who accounted for nearly 5,300 of those are all back.
De’Shaun Kirven ran for 2,030 yards and 28 touchdowns last year as a sophomore. Jaden Knowles rushed for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns and quarterback Evan Jowers ran for 952 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Andrew Flannigan (5-11, 290) was the district’s top offensive lineman last year, and he will lead a group including Brett Bostad and Isaiah Butler in the run-heavy offense.
Kennedale has been on the cusp of making it to state, but the Wildcats always seem to run into a team more destined to get there. Kennedale has lost to the eventual state runner-up each of the last three seasons (Argyle 2014 & 2015, Wylie 2016).
The Wildcats will have an offense that will be very difficult to stop in 2017. That’s a good thing, though, as Kennedale will have to rebuild a defense that was stout, but loaded with seniors.
Kennedale will be battle-tested before the season begins as they scrimmage Waco La Vega and Sherman. The Wildcats won’t start the season on Sept. 1 like everyone else and they’ll have no open week in regular season. This means if the Wildcats want to finally get to Jerry World, they’ll have to play 16 straight weeks with no break — that includes a neutral site game against West Orange-Stark.
The path to get to Arlington, like always, won’t be easy. Midlothian Heritage will be very good this year, and whoever survives 4A DI Region II will most likely have Abilene Wylie waiting in the semifinals. Then state will either go through defending champion Carthage or La Vega.
Brought to you by: