Apr 20, 2021
The John Cooper School had a big week with two wins on the volleyball court and a lopsided win in football.
Here's the recap.
Cypress Christian • 3-0 W
The Dragons started the week off strong with a commanding 3-0 home sweep of Cypress Christian. Julianne Hon led the charge with nine kills and tallied six digs. Rivers Kolesar had six kills, Grace Minarovic had five kills, and Summer Galinsky had four kills. Lauren Wolford ran a steady offense for the Dragons tallying 19 assists.
Kinkaid*• 3-1 W
The Dragons are officially 1-0 in SPC play as they secured their first conference road win! Rivers Kolesar had an outstanding offensive night with 10 kills with Julianne Hon right behind her with nine kills and 23 digs. Lauren Wolford ended the night with 30 assists and an outstanding eight service aces! The Dragons rallied back after a slow start, dropping the first set due to a few too many unforced errors, but regrouped and won the second set 25-12; then continued their momentum to take a strong third and fourth set win to secure the match.
Next up for Dragon Volleyball
September 20 at Duchesne*, 6 p.m.
September 28 at Awty*, 6 p.m.
September 29 at Houston Christian*, 5:15 p.m.
October 6 vs. St. John’s*, 5:30 p.m.
October 12 at Concordia Lutheran*, 5:30 p.m.
9/16at Greenhill School* • 51-13 W
The Dragons started their SPC 3A journey last night on the road and kept the bees in their hive, dominating the Greenhill Hornets 51-13. The Dragons scored early and often with whatever play they liked as they headed into halftime up 44-0. QB Vaughn McKeever passed for over 275 yards and four touchdowns, hitting his favorite target WR Kielar Sullivan seven times for 127 yards and three touchdowns. RB Dean Calhoun had another standout night rushing for 120 yards on 11 carries for two touchdowns; Calhoun even added another touchdown receiving. The Cooper defense held the Hornets to under 150 yards of total offense, with -8 yards of rushing on the night. It was junior DT Jackson Todd who continued to make a name for himself in the SPC causing wreckage along the offensive line, getting two sacks early and plugging Hornet running lanes all night. Junior CB Nico Signorelli had a strong evening locking down the passing on his side and coming up with multiple tackles; senior LBs Alex Rovirosa and Owen Baadsgaard each also played well racking up multiple tackles and helping hold Greenhill to only 2/12 on third down. The Dragons return to the lair this week as they play their homecoming game against the Owls of Oakridge Friday night at Pugh Field on The John Cooper School campus.
Team MVP: Jackson Todd
Offensive Player of the Game: Dean Calhoun
Defensive Player of the Game: Joe Bisso
Special Teams MVP: Owen Baadsgaard
Scout Team Player of the Week: Quinn de Groot
Next up for Dragon Football:
September 23vs. Oakridge School*, 7p.m. Homecoming!
September 30at Cistercian Prep*, 7p.m.
VARSITY CROSS COUNTRY
Next up for Dragon Cross Country
October 1 at Chili Pepper Festival, 7 at University of Arkansas
October 1 at Woodlands Christian XC Series #3, 8 a.m.
October 8 at The 41st St. John Maverick Ramble, Spring Creek Park, 8 a.m.
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HIS SOPHOMORE YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL STILL MONTHS FROM COMPLETION, KENDRON PENSON JR. HAD A GROWN-UP DECISION TO MAKE THIS SPRING.
The precocious quarterback could stay at Hightower, where he’d helped lead the Hurricanes to a Regional Final last year. Or, he could follow his father Kendron Penson Sr. to Willowridge, where Dad was named head coach of his alma mater in early April.
“It was a hard decision,” said Penson Jr., who goes by “KJ.” “Leaving people I played with my whole life... that was tough. Having a chance to play for my dad was the only reason I left.”
Now the Pensons are tasked with lifting the Eagles, who have not won a playoff game since 2016.
Hightower won three playoff games last season, when Penson thrilled as a spectacular dual-threat signal-caller. Willowridge has two playoff wins since 2004.
“It’s about bringing that intensity I had at Hightower to Willowridge,” KJ said. “It’s on me to tell other guys what to do and help them understand things and what our offense is trying to do. It’s going to be a long process. But as you get down the road, and people start to understand roles, that’s when you start going where you want to go.”
Penson Sr., previously the assistant head coach/offensive line coach at Hightower, will be calling the shots. But it’s Junior
whose play and presence will determine just how high the Eagles rise.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound KJ was fantastic last season for the 11-3 Hurricanes in his inaugural varsity season, completing 56.5 percent of his passes for 2,488 yards and 21 touchdowns to just five interceptions, while rushing for 257 yards and six more touchdowns. He brings instant credibility and playmaking to an Eagles program desperate for marquee talent.
KJ was wise last season to listen to seniors like Caleb Douglas and Kaleb Johnson, whose leadership skills and wisdom he adopted.
“The experience last year made him a great leader,” Penson Sr. said. “Now he can
show these guys over here how to win and the ways of excellence. We have some great kids here. It only makes them better because he’s been there before. These guys haven’t been to the fourth round, but we plan on being there.”
KJ first picked up a football when he was four years old. He started as a middle linebacker before switching to quarterback four years later because of Michael Vick.
“The way he used to play inspired me to play quarterback,” KJ said.
KJ is expecting an even better season this year in Willowridge’s Air Raid offense.
Hightower’s offense was run-oriented last year, with the occasional downfield bomb. Willowridge plans to employ a quick-game, fast-paced scheme with a lot of intermediate passing.
KJ spent much of the offseason honing throws across the middle of the field and speed training. He hopes to show off more of his talent in the open field as a runner.
For now, he understands everything is a process. Learning a new school, a new program, new systems. And playing for Pops.
“He’s tough on me,” KJ said, laughing. “It can be difficult at times. But I know it’ll payoff in the long run. He’s a really good coach. You can see the change he’s making as far as the work ethic and the mindset. His focus is only to make all of us better.”
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