Francis Parker quarterback Khaleel Jenkins is off and running against Bishop’s. Jenkins ran for a touchdown, passed for a TD and returned an interception for a score as the Lancers stayed unbeaten.
Before Saturday’s homecoming game, Francis Parker football coach John Morrison said that despite the Lancers’ undefeated record, his players think they have a lot to improve.
“Without saying anything to them, I can tell the kids aren’t always happy, even when we’ve won big,” Morrison said. “They expect to play at a very high level.”
On Saturday, Morrison and his team were happy to escape with a win as Francis Parker needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Bishop’s 35-21.
“I think they’re relieved,” Morrison said after the game. “It’s Parker vs. Bishop’s — we didn’t take them lightly. As I told the kids, some days you got to find other ways to win.”
On a day when Francis Parker’s normally prolific offense was mostly ineffective, the Lancers scored touchdowns on defense and special teams that proved to be the difference. Ayman Mayberry returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Khaleel Jenkins returned an interception 30 yards for the winning touchdown in the final period.
“I just jumped it and took it to the house,” said Jenkins, who is also Francis Parker’s starting quarterback. “It was great, because we were down and out on offense all game, so to happen when it did, it kind of sparked our team.”
Jenkins opened the scoring for Francis Parker (8-0, 2-0) in the first quarter with a 32-yard TD run against Bishop’s (5-3, 0-2). He also tossed a 48-yard scoring pass to Nathaniel Abernethy in the third quarter.
The win put Francis Parker in first place in the Coastal League and kept the Lancers atop the Division III standings in their first season since moving up from Division V.
They have just two regular-season games left, and if they finish unbeaten and win the San Diego Section Division III championship, another shot at a state bowl title could be waiting.
The program came within 5 yards of winning a state crown in 2009, and there are a lot of similarities between that team and this one. With Jenkins at quarterback, Morrison is back to running the spread-option offense that he used in 2009. And starting running back Jesse Brookins is the younger brother of 2009 standout running back Kenny Brookins.
Morrison said it’s premature to talk about playing for a state title this year, but he admitted that it would be an accomplishment to finish undefeated in Division III.
“We don’t talk about it,” Morrison said. “But if at the end of the season you’ve done what you needed to do, you should get rewarded.”