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Returning players and history of success to propel Trojans past Special District competition

One of the most consistent football teams in the past 10 years, Kennedy has been a staple in the 2A postseason picture. Only once in the last 10 years have the Trojans posted a sub-.500 record (4-7 in the 2017-18 season) and even then, they managed to make it to the state quarterfinals against Monroe/Triangle Lake.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO: ANDRE PANSE - The Kennedy football team will look to overwhelm the opposition in the 2021-22 season.

While last season was the most unusual in that time, Kennedy finished the shortened season 5-1 on a five-game streak. The team looks to build on that momentum in the upcoming 2021-22 season, and they'll have the returning athletes to make that happen.

Senior quarterback and linebacker Riley Cantu, junior linemen Briggs Snell and Matt Hopkins will be leading the charge on both sides of the ball, according to head coach Joe Panuke. The team is split near evenly down the middle of upperclassmen and underclassmen, and Cantu, Snell and Hopkins, along with the rest of the upperclassmen starters, will be tasked with guiding their teammates back into the postseason.

The competition in Special District 2, formerly known as the Tri-River Conference, will be stiff. Various teams in the past 10 years have had success: Regis, Santiam and Sheridan have all posted stellar records at one point or another, and Colton has been reliably consistent. Success in the ever-difficult conference usually bodes well, according to Panuke.

"Our league is looking to be very competitive again this year," Panuke said. "The winner of the Tri-River Conference does well every year in the playoffs. The key is staying healthy and getting better every week."

Kennedy's first football game of the season will be on the road against Gaston at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3. The first league competition will be on the road Friday, Sept. 17, against the Colton Vikings.


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