ANAHEIM – Kennedy got off to a great start and put the game away early in a 48-7 win over Costa Mesa on Thursday in a season-opening football game at Western High.

John Bivens returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Bivens, a senior receiver and defensive back, scored on a 57-yard punt return in the first quarter.

Four other Kennedy players scored in the first half, during which the Fighting Irish scored all of their points. Drew Deese scored on a 20-yard pass from Devin Almazan, Izaiah Murphy scored on a 10-yard pass from Almazan, Rider Street scored on a 7-yard run, Isaac Talamantes scored on a 7-yard run and Danny Torres scored on a 2-yard run.

Kennedy, 2-8 last season, scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half. The second half was played with a running clock.

Costa Mesa, 3-7 last year, got its touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 42-yard pass from receiver-turned-quarterback Marley Boynton to Brody Leonard.

Bivens caught the opening kickoff on the run. He never slowed down, displaying terrific vision as he sped through openings.

Biven said he expected to score the first time he would touch the football this season.

“I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “I was excited for it.”

An interception by Kennedy’s Rocco Street set up the second Fighting Irish touchdown, Deese’s 20-yard reception from junior quarterback Devin Almazan who was All-Empire League last season as a sophomore.

Kennedy scored two more touchdowns in the first quarter, on a 10-yard pass from Almazan to Izaiah Murphy and on Bivens’ winding, sideline-to-sideline punt return that made it 28-0.

Kennedy senior John Bivens returned the season-opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and returned a punt a winding 57 yards for another touchdown in a 48-7 win over Costa Mesa…

— Steve Fryer (@SteveFryer) August 18, 2023

Then came the touchdown runs by Street and Talamantes and a rare season-opening win was in the hands of the Fighting Irish and fourth-year head coach Dan Urbanos.

“It’s the first season-opening win since I’ve been head coach,” Urbanos said. “We’ve had a young group the past couple of years. We had some dark times last year so I’m happy our kids got to enjoy a victory tonight.”

Street finished with 85 rushing yards on nine carries. He was Kennedy’s leading rusher last season. Talamantes ran for 37 yards and Torres ran for 34 yards.

Kennedy’s defense was splendid. The Fighting Irish allowed only 44 passing yards and 31 rushing yards. Rocco Street took his interception into the end zone but what would have been a 35-yard touchdown return was negated by an illegal blocking penalty against Kennedy.

“We’re not very big up front,” Urbanos said. “But we’ve got some good, strong athletic kids. We’re very pleased with them.”

Next week Kennedy plays Northwood, which has won CIF championships the past two seasons, at Irvine High on Friday, Aug. 25. Costa Mesa is home against Pioneer of Whittier on Friday, Aug. 25.

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