By Steve Millar
Kendrick Washington put on a show Friday night in Oak Lawn.
Now, the question for Shepard is whether it will be the senior running back/defensive back’s last performance for the Astros.
Washington ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries and returned an interception for a touchdown to lead Shepard’s 48-8 rout over host Oak Lawn in a South Suburban Red game.
However, he was ejected with 11 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game for targeting while blocking on a kick return.
Shepard coach John Rone said the officials told him the play would be reviewed after the game to make a final decision on whether the targeting call would be upheld, as an ejection could cause Washington to miss the Astros’ final game against Reavis.
“From what the guys were telling me upstairs, it wasn’t targeting,” Rone said. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen with that. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Before the surprise early exit, Washington did it all for the Astros (4-1, 4-0), starting with two touchdowns in a 69-second span in the first quarter.
First, he ran for a 10-yard touchdown. Three plays later, he intercepted a pass from Oak Lawn sophomore quarterback Danny Lisnic and returned it 35 yards for another score as Shepard quickly took a 14-0 lead over the Spartans (0-5, 0-4).
“We set the tone right away,” Shepard senior Jalen Smith said. “We came out here and our mindset was to start strong and get what we could get early. Kendrick made big plays for us.”
The Astros increased the lead to 28-0 by halftime as Elijah Tyson ran for a 12-yard touchdown, then Washington found the end zone for the third time on a 31-yard run.
Smith ran for a 48-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half to make it 34-0.
“The goal for me was to come in here and get at least one touchdown,” Smith said. “Coming into this game, I had only two games left in my senior season, so I’ve got to come out here and make all the plays I can.
“The coaches try to put the ball in my hands and once I get it, I want to make something happen.”
Smith finished with 60 yards rushing on three carries and caught a 42-yard pass from Quran McClellan.
Xavier Rogers added a 10-yard touchdown run for the Astros.
Senior defensive end Zevik Krusza had a big night with three tackles for loss and a sack, while senior Chris Hale had an interception.
“We’ve played four conference games and we’ve given up (29) points, and one of those touchdowns came late in this game with a big lead,” Rone said. “Our guys are excited to play defense. We talk a lot about bringing back that “Orange Crush” defense from the 90s and these guys are living up to that.”
Oak Lawn broke the shutout with 11:50 left on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Lisnic to Rodney Washington.
Lisnic finished 6-of-19 passing for 96 yards.
Nicco Reyes ran for 134 yards on 28 carries for the Spartans.
“I do everything for these people right here,” Reyes said. “I wasn’t even going to play football. I’m a basketball player. But these are my brothers on this team, so I do this all for them. When I get the ball, I run as hard as I can. I’ve got them on my back and I’ve got to carry them.
“I’m really proud of this team. We’ve been growing and growing since the first game. We never give up. Even if the scoreboard is not looking our way, we just keep on playing.”