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Kenny, Mustangs seek return to glory

Pat Kenny remembers going to Sam Boyd Stadium to watch The Meadows win the first of five straight Class 2A state football championships in 1997.

Kenny, who has attended The Meadows since kindergarten, was in the first grade at that time.

Eleven years later, he is a starting running back and linebacker who will lead the Mustangs into the 2A title game against Pershing County at 3 p.m. Saturday at Arbor View High School.

A win would give The Meadows its first state crown since 2001.

“Since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be there,” Kenny said. “Now it’s the time, so I’ve got to capitalize.”

Kenny has rushed for 1,095 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Mustangs (10-2), who were re-seeded as the South’s No. 1 team for the state semifinals.

They eliminated Battle Mountain 23-14 in that game and haven’t lost since a 38-21 defeat at Lincoln County on Oct. 10.

The state title game also recalls fond memories for coach Frank DeSantis, who guided The Meadows to the five straight titles and 41 consecutive wins before leaving after the 2001 season.

“It would be nice to get back to that way,” DeSantis said. “But it’s more important to the kids than me. It’s more important for the whole athletic program — not just the football program.”

The Mustangs are 17-6 the past two years under DeSantis after going through two coaches and a 10-18 skid from 2004 to 2006.

After stints at Cimarron-Memorial, Eldorado and a middle school in Texas, DeSantis returned to The Meadows in 2007.

Pershing County (11-0), the North’s No. 1 seed, gives up only 9.3 points per game.

“On our defense, I don’t think we have any players that stand out and jump at you,” Pershing County coach Dave McLean said. “They come together well. It’s just a good team defense.”

A defense that could be a big test for The Meadows freshman quarterback Gerard Martinez, who has thrown for 1,922 yards and 32 touchdowns.

“I don’t think we’ll have too many issues,” said Kenny, whose team averages more than 32 points per game. “We have a pretty high-powered offense, pretty multidimensional.”

Until now, playing in a state title game felt almost surreal to Kenny.

“Since the beginning of the season, we’ve been saying that we were going to make the state championship,” he said. “But until we finally did it, it didn’t feel real.”

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