Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kedrock Slams The Hammer on Robinson
Senior fullback emerges as workhorse in win over Robinson.
By BJ Koubaroulis
October 25, 2006

Oakton's football team started a new tradition during last season's 12-2 run to the Div. 6 AAA state title. Oakton senior Taylor Naleppa, a stocky fullback known for his gritty running style and toughness, would lead the Cougars onto the field wielding a burgundy and gold sledge-hammer with the words "Whoop Ass" inscribed on the handle. Naleppa would swing and bury the sledge-hammer into the opposing team's end zone in an effort to spread his toughness to his teammates and intimidate the opposition. In Friday's 14-7 victory over Robinson (5-2 overall, 3-1 Concorde District), neither Naleppa, who graduated last year, or his sledge-hammer were present, but Naleppa's replacement, senior fullback Jonathan Kedrock, was. Kedrock, who ran for a season-high 126 yards on 25 carries, wasn't just the fullback — he was the sledge-hammer and the blood seeping from his right arm and the mud clinging to his uniform said one thing, "Whoop Ass.""You can imagine what our defense faced every week, facing Kedrock [last year in practice]," said Oakton head coach Joe Thompson. "He didn't get much playing time because Taylor was there, but every week he practiced as hard as he played tonight."

WITH OAKTON quarterback, sophomore Ryan Harris (7-of-16, 78 yards, 2INT) still learning at the position and Robinson's defense keying on several of Oakton's other running backs, Kedrock established his presence running for 32 yards on seven carries in the first half."Once we figured out that this guy was going to play as hard as he was going to play and run the ball like that, we wanted to keep it in his hands," said Thompson, who spread the ball to four different rushers in the first half, including Orlando Bryant who took his first carry of the half for a 34-yard touchdown run with 1:07 left to give Oakton the 6-0 lead."It was [Kedrock's] turn this year and he wasn't going to be denied. He's been patient...He's wanted it and tonight one of our assistant coaches said 'it's time to get him in the ball game and give him the ball, I was ready to respond,'" Thompson added.Kedrock, a 5-foot-10 and 218-pound senior, wasn't just breaking tackles, he was aiming for contact with defenders, lowering his shoulder nearly every time he touched the ball."They are smaller than me," said Kedrock, who said he ran with a single purpose in mind on Friday. "Playoffs. This is playoffs. All the games for the rest of the season are playoffs. Ever since we lost to Westfield, we realized what we had to do to make the playoffs and this is it."Kedrock rushed for the game-clinching 2-yard touchdown with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter to give Oakton the 12-7 lead."He has a switch that he turns on and when he turns it on, no one is stopping him," said Oakton senior Jared Green, who caught the ensuing two-point conversion pass to put the Cougars up 14-7. "When it comes down to it. He plays better under pressure. We put the game in his hands and he took care of business."Robinson head coach Mark Bendorf was impressed with the Cougars offensive line."They've got a better football team than we have and we knew that going in," said Bendorf. "Just look at their backs and they got their lineman back from their state championship team."

ROBINSON ENTERED the contest without starting running back Mike Meier, who dislocated his right elbow in practice last Tuesday. Meier, who has rushed for 593 yards and six touchdowns this season, is uncertain about his return this season. Without Meier, Robinson ran for a season-low 149 yards on 34 attempts. Robinson senior David Laiti ran for a team-high 77 yards on 13 carries. Alex Murray rushed for Robinson's only touchdown with 7:44 left in the third quarter and finished with 46 yards on 11 carries. The Rams lost two fumbles."It hurt," said Bendorf. "One turnover on the screen was a first down and there at the end that was a chance to go ahead and try to tie it up."With 5:02 left in the fourth quarter and trailing 14-7, Robinson's Wynton Fox (8 carries, 29 yards) was stripped and Oakton recovered. The Cougars ran down the clock and kneeled on the ball on Robinson's one-yard line opting not to go for the knock out punch with under 10 seconds left."Basically, we are a team that has the talent all we have to do is execute," said Green. "Honestly, it is open this year. You see Westfield, they are No. 1, we were right up there and we almost snagged that one. The playoffs is what it's going to come down to."

NOTE: Oakton coach Joe Thompson said that he and his staff went through four years of film in the week leading up to the match up with Robinson. "We haven't beaten Robinson," said Thompson. The win marked the first time that Oakton, which has been outscored 147-105 by Robinson in six games since the 2002 season, have defeated Robinson since Nov. 30, 2002.

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