Kennett back eager to earn first playoff game

Posted: October 18, 2012

One accomplishment down, a bigger one to go.

Kennett's Jordan Lardani reached a personal goal in last Saturday's Ches-Mont League American Conference game vs. Great Valley, eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season in a 17-14 overtime triumph.

Now, taking a big-picture approach, the bruising fullback is focused on helping lead the 5-2 Blue Demons to their first PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoff berth.

"It's something we've talked about as a team," Lardani said. "We're probably going to have to run the table to make it happen. But the good thing is, we control our own destiny at this point."

In September 2005, Kennett participated in its first varsity contest since 1916, when it was a community club team. Its 6-4 showing last year marked the program's first winning season in its recent history.

Entering Friday night's game at Octorara, the Blue Demons, at 2-1 in the American Conference, are tied with Cheltenham, of the Suburban One League American Conference, for 17th place in the District 1 AAAA power-points standings. The top 16 teams will advance to the playoffs.

"With the players we had returning, we were pretty confident about doing well this year," Lardani said. "Most of the guys have been playing since sophomore year."

Through seven games, Lardani, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior and third-year varsity member, has carried 136 times for 1,012 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"The biggest improvement he's made from last year to this year is his vision going through the hole," said Scott Green, Kennett's third-year coach. "He's capitalized on that."

Last season, Lardani, who sees spot duty at strong safety, finished just short of the grand mark. He rushed 160 times for 984 yards and nine scores.

Said Green: "His dedication in the weight room in the offseason has made him a faster, stronger running back."

Lardani said he has bench-pressed 285 pounds and squatted 475. At a combine held at the University of Delaware, his clocking in the 40-yard dash was 4.57 seconds.

On Oct. 6, in a 35-13 homecoming romp over American Conference rival Sun Valley, Lardani netted a season-high 220 yards and three TDs on 25 attempts.

"Our entire offensive line has been doing well," the 17-year-old captain said. That group includes center Cory Tomasetti, guards Kaden Bradley and Sean Ennis, tackles Jeremy Neel and Raymond Maxwell, and tight end Liam Clarke.

In Kennett's triple-option attack, Lardani gets support from quarterback Jordan Jones and slotbacks Kevin McQuiston and C.J. Lowe.

A 5-2 defense is spearheaded by 6-0, 275-pound tackle Albert Magana, nose guard Sean Rook (6-2, 250), and linebackers Brandon Liddick and Stephen Masha.

The secondary includes Brett Rose and Ed Niewinski, a senior who is sidelined with a concussion but expected back in Week 9.

Lardani, an erstwhile lacrosse player, has heard from Division I-A (Louisiana Tech, Boston College), Division I-AA (Delaware, Coastal Carolina), and Division II (West Chester, Kutztown) programs.

His grandfather, Ray "The Toe" Lardani, is a regular at Kennett football games and functions. The 75-year-old was a standout offensive lineman at Southeast Catholic (now Neumann-Goretti) and the University of Miami.

The elder Lardani, who lives most of the year in Florida, went on to play for the American Football League's Boston Patriots. He had tryouts with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.

"He's always there in the stands," Jordan Lardani said. "He gives me a lot of tips, pretty much after every game."


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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