Renton wins first game of 2023 season, topples Kent-Meridian

Redhawk QB Demond Reed Jr. takes off for 71-yard touchdown run in win.

In a night of firsts, the Renton Redhawks got their first win of the season, which means the Redhawks are 1-0 going into week two for the first time since 2014.

“It comes down to the work ethic of the kids. They’ve been here since January 18 doing morning workouts and going hard in the summer,” Head Coach Mark Cross said.

Renton took down Kent-Meridian 20-12 on Sept. 1 at French Field to open up each team’s 2023 regular season.

“These guys rallied around each other and are starting to take ownership with the programs and things are starting to fall into the right places,” Cross said.

The Redhawks got off to a shaky start after starting QB Demond Reed Jr. threw an interception on his third play under center.

Kent-Meridian took that momentum and turned it into a touchdown. But from then on, Reed played really well. His coach appreciated his effort.

“He just hangs in there and he rallies the troops. We told him to stick with it, something was gonna pop for you, and it did,” Cross said.

Colln Mickelson makes a tackle against the royals. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Colln Mickelson makes a tackle against the royals. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Reed took the Redhawks down the field on the following possession and threw a strike to freshman Dereon Garrett for a 35 yard touchdown play, igniting the offense for the Redhawks.

“When we make big plays, small plays, little plays or bad plays, it’s the next play we’re back on. Everybody had that next play mentality,” said Reed.

At the end of the first quarter, Renton got on the board again. After an interception by senior Karmelo Bell, the Redhawks had the ball at the 45 of the Royals. Renton capped the drive off with six points coming from sophomore Major Bloodsaw, who dragged his way into the end zone from six yards out.

Something that helped get the Redhawk offense was Reed using his legs, something that would win them the game later on.

“I think when it’s necessary we want to put our team in a position to be successful and make some powerful plays,” Cross said.

The one real blemish that occurred for the Redhawks in the first half was a blocked punt in the second quarter. With 2:10 left in the half, Renton allowed the Royals to fight back in the ball game. But the Redhawks were still on top 14-12 going into the break.

Defensively the Redhawks were stout. Sophomore Cameron Calhoun lived in the backfield and got high praise from Coach Cross along with the entire defensive unit, and got some love from their quarterback.

“(They had) a lot of confidence. There was a lot of pressure up front. Number three on their team wasn’t comfortable,” Reed said.

The best stand the defense made was late in the third quarter, when Kent-Meridian was driving and had already converted on a fourth and 11. The Royals were inside the five yard line and were held to fourth down. They elected to go for it and were stopped shy of the goal line.

In the fourth quarter the biggest play of the game came from the feet of Demond Reed Jr. The senior broke a 71 yard touchdown to put the game on ice with 3:00 left in the game.

“While I was coming around the corner Claudio Herrera hit that mean kick out block. I put my foot in the dirt, I didn’t see no one to the side of me. I saw one guy up there (field), I knew he wasn’t catching me,” Reed said.

It was a storybook ending for the Redhawks, a redemption arc if you will.

“I feel like we really played as a team today. I said to my coaches my goal was to have a team win. I felt like we really did have a team win today,“ Reed said.

Even with the win, Renton has ways to improve and is looking forward to making those changes going into week two.

“We just have to build on this. Got the first game jitters out of the way. We know what the standard is,” said Reed.