FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Kenston Forest Kavaliers learn lessons

Published 1:17 am Sunday, August 27, 2023

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Last season was a rough one for the Kenston Forest Kavaliers. Going 3-7, the team gave up 126 points more than they scored. They also finished with a four-game losing streak, including a 56-0 final against Brunswick Academy. But there was a benefit, as many players of the young team got their first real game experience on the high school level. It basically turned into a rebuilding year. Now all of those players are one year older, with more confidence about what it takes to play on this level. That development has already shown on the field.

On Friday, Aug. 11, the group took part in the Greenbrier Christian Academy Scrimmage Jamboree, winning three out of their four games. Junior Zain Queen, the 5’10 ft. wide receiver, running back and safety from Nottoway County, rushed and caught a total of four touchdowns. Massive 6’7 ft. senior Gergely Hudak added four more touchdown catches on the night. All those and two more were thrown by senior quarterback Noah Cole. The Fuqua School transfer threw for six touchdown passes on the night. The 5’11 ft. senior, who also plays running back and inside linebacker, also forced three fumbles while on defense. Kenston Forest Head Coach Joe Kaiser said he was glad to see effort in practice translate.

“I think scrimmages are important,” he said. “You get to see what your team and the other team will do against live action.”

Kaiser also felt the effort was a sign the work done this summer is paying off.

“We’ve been going hard since the end of July,” Kaiser said. “And they’ve put the work in. We’ve got a good group of seniors and juniors driving the effort.”

Captains step up

Kaiser said those juniors and seniors were his captains. None of them are focused on complaining or attacking. Instead, they work with younger players on how to improve.

“When they say something, it means something,” Kaiser said. “They give a lot of good, constructive criticism.”

The coach applauded the effort of all five captains. That includes Nathan Daniel, Zain Queen, Gergely Hudak, Noah Cole and Blake Bolter.

Now one thing that might be different, if you’re going to your first Kenston Forest game, is the fact they play 8 on 8 football. This is mainly used by schools and divisions with smaller enrollments. Typically, most offenses have two fewer offensive tackles and one less receiver, but a creative coach can mix and match.

Players also compete on a smaller field. The width of the field is 40 yards. That’s about 13 1/3 narrower than the traditional field, which is 53 1/3 wide. All of that translates to a much faster game than regular high school football, with scores that can reach the 70s at times.

The schedule also shifts around more than other schools. For the Virginia Independent Schools Football League, teams play on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, there’s just no set day of the week for games to take place.

But for the majority of Kenston Forest players, this is normal. And this time around, they’re coming in with a lot more confidence.

Kaiser said his team could make a run, if one thing happens this year.

“This team, if they work really hard, will go far,” Kaiser said. “We just have to keep working towards our goals.”

To read the entire 2023 High School Football Preview click here.