YEADON >> That Penn Wood wide receiver Kennedy Poles is starting at the varsity level as a freshman is no coincidence.
When asked about his increasing role in the Patriots’ offense, he’ll say he credits all that to hard work and a little help from a family that includes a former semi-pro football player in his father, and a cousin with a familiar name.
“You know Trent Richardson?” Poles said of the former University of Alabama All-American and the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. “He’s my cousin.”
In the aftermath of hauling in four passes for 84 yards and his first career high school touchdown at Kerr Field Saturday in Penn Wood’s 48-21 defeat of visiting Del Val League opponent Chichester, Poles couldn’t quite put a finger on where his ties with Richardson intersect on the family tree.
He thinks the relation lies with his maternal grandmother and her sister, but he couldn’t say that with any
conviction. He and Richardson, currently an NFL free agent, are second cousins.
That much he knows.
“I can’t think,” he said, after attempting to piece the history together. Poles has worked with Richardson in past summers, and took part in the three-year NFL vet’s first youth football clinic in June in Richardson’s hometown of Pensacola, Fla., where he starred at Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith’s alma mater, Escambia High.
“Sometimes he’ll call my mom and tell her to come up there (to Pensacola) and I can work with him,” Poles said of Richardson.
Who could blame Poles if his mind was scrambled some?
As Tayvon Ruley ran rampant en route to a four-touchdown day on the ground, Poles complemented the senior running back’s big day by establishing himself as a primary target for quarterback Javon Lindsey-Terrell, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 202 yards, amid a homecoming win that marked Penn Wood’s first league victory since 2013.
Along with a 16-yard touchdown reception that gave Penn Wood (2-6, 1-2) a three-possession lead with 22.2 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the freshman also snared a 40-yard Lindsey-Terrell pass near the right sideline earlier in the period.
Though he was still reeling some from the Patriots’ win afterward, nobody, not even Poles is surprised by his impact on a Patriots offense that shredded the Eagles (3-4, 0-3) to the tune of 416 yards Saturday.
“He’s a good talent,” Patriots coach Nick Lincoln said. “It’s just keeping that talent here at Penn Wood that’s going to make us dramatically better long term. I don’t know if that kid stays here a couple years ago.”
Ruley is another talent in an entirely different situation from his freshman peer. He was on that team that last won a Del Val game two seasons ago, and he played in Penn Wood’s 7-6, season-finale defeat to Chichester last season that solidified the Patriots’ winless 2014 campaign.
This, of course, could only further sweeten his 237-yard, four-touchdown performance on the ground en route to a blowout win. Both of those numbers, he said, are career-highs in a Penn Wood uniform.
A pitch to Ruley from receiver Rahiem Bowens, who was fed the ball on a screen play, set up Ruley’s first score from 55 yards out in the first quarter. After respective touchdown runs of 15 and 30 yards in the second quarter, the senior exploded for an up-the-gut, 89-yard scoring dash that gave the Patriots another three-possession lead and opened the floodgates for a 22-point fourth quarter.
“It made me really excited,” Ruley said. “Every run I had, I ran north and south … I didn’t really want to take it to the outside because that’s where their best defensive players are. So I wanted to go at them. On every outside run, I cut it back to the other sideline to get to their weak spots.”
Outside of Kevin Miller’s 88 rushing yards and a 46-yard, third-quarter strike from quarterback Clarence Bowens to Martin Frempong that brought Chichester within two possessions, six turnovers — three lost fumbles and three interceptions — kept the Eagles from maintaining any consistency on the offensive side of the ball
“We have to work on showing up,” Eagles coach Ryan Smith said. “I don’t think we played a fast enough game to compete with them today. That’s uncharacteristic of our kids.”
As far as Ruley’s afternoon, well, Smith said he needs a look at the film.
“It looks like we missed some assignments,” he said. “I don’t think it was (Ruley), I think it was us.”