The Peninsula Panthers high school football program has a proud tradition of excellence, having graduated several pro football players and many notable college players.
However, last season they were 2-5 through their first seven games when they had to forfeit their final three games because they didn’t have enough players to field a team due to injuries.
Enter David Young.
Young was hired in January and previously coached for Rancho Palos Verdes high school as the Defensive Coordinator, helping the Sea Kings win two CIF titles in three appearances during the last eight seasons before taking on the challenge of restoring Peninsula to their former glory. They haven’t had a winning season since 2005.
His job was more than just coaching a team full of players ready to participate, he had to create an interest in football to recruit new athletes. On Friday, that paid some dividends as the Panthers hosted and defeated the John Glenn Eagles, 48-6, in their first game of the season.
Peninsula used an aggressive and savage defense to stifle Glenn’s short passing attack. The Eagles were coming off a 31-19 win against Magnolia the previous week in which their QB David Sanchez threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. However, he never had a chance on Friday against the Panthers who were making their 2016 debut.
Sanchez was under constant pressure and Peninsula’s frenetic pass rush made him hurry his passes and caused him to throw five interceptions. The Panthers defensive line was having their way with the Eagles OL as the pocket was constantly collapsing and struggled to give their QB time to throw. The game was lost in the trenches.
Jeffrey Jimena provided most of the rushing attack as he battered the Eagles defense all game long, occasionally breaking off a long run. Glenn had no answer for the 5-10, 190 pound, senior running back who seemingly had huge holes to run through all game, primarily due to his offensive line. He scored the first TD of the game early in the first quarter and his running (16 carries for 196 yards, 12.3 yards per carry) made it easier for quarterback Aidan Kuykendall to throw the ball.
Kuykendall connected with wide receiver Tyler Hazard later midway through the second quarter to give Peninsula a 14-0 lead. Kuykendall completed 7 of 11 passes for 96 yards, including two TD’s.
The Panthers led, 27-0, at halftime.
As any coach worth anything will say, “It’s just one game.” But, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
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