Highlands High School quarterback Isaiah Tenette amassed 839 rushing yards in the first three games of the season, but was held to minus-five yards into the fourth quarter of Friday night’s nonleague matchup with the Natomas Nighthawks.
An 80-yard touchdown run erased that red number in a hurry, and Tenette will take these numbers – 37-25 – any day over the individual stats. That was the final score at the Highlands Bowl as the Scots ended the Nighthawks’ bid to start the season 4-0, which would have been the best in school history.
“You have to sprint every down and keep working hard,” Tenette said as the Scots improved to 3-1. “Natomas did a great job on me, but I was able to find a niche.”
Tenette also had scoring runs of two and 15 yards. The 15-yarder, a nice draw play up the middle in the second quarter, got him five yards into the black. But then his blazing breakaway speed on the 80-yarder served as the dagger to any Nighthawks comeback hopes. He also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kentrell Turner in the second quarter as the Scots led 25-7.
Tenette can beat you in so many ways. The 5-foot-8, 140-pound senior threw for a score, played lock-down coverage from the defensive-back position, punted, kicked off, returned kicks and punts and even lined up as a receiver on a couple of plays.
“He’s pound-for-pound the best player (in the area),” said Highlands head coach Matt Cokley, as the Scots equaled their win total from last season. “Natomas had two guys spying (Tenette) all game, containing the edges but he found way through.”
The Nighthawks had a state-leading 32-game losing streak at the start of the 2014 season but reached the playoffs. Quarterback Adrian Leyva led the Nighthawks to 105 points over the past two games, including a 61-17 rout of Mira Loma last week. But Leyva was ineffective in the first half and was replaced by Keyshawn Strickland, who usually plays receiver and strong safety. Strickland rallied his team to three second-half scores and had the Scots suddenly scrambling.
Tenette to the rescue.
A 39-yard scramble in the fourth quarter brought the Scots from deep in their own territory and set up Turner’s 42-yard score.
Tenette had 13 rushing touchdowns and passed for 380 yards and four more scores entering Friday. He set a NorCal quarterback rushing mark with 465 yards and seven scores in an 84-43 win over Mira Loma in Week 2.
Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com or @editorwriter001.