While still in the midst of training camp, first-year Archbishop Riordan head coach Mark Modeste wasn’t sure what to do with Kemoeatu Kefu.
The 300-pound sophomore with shotput-sized calves is a prototypical 4-3 interior defensive lineman, but he also had nimble feet and sure hands. Modeste thought he’d eventually have to decide to keep his monster on defense. That changed in Week 1, when Kefu plowed the way for over 300 rushing yards as a fullback.
On Saturday, in the Crusaders’ 39-27 win over Tamalpais, Atu rushed 12 times for 106 yards and two scores, as Riordan doubled its win total from last year, produced three 100-yard rushing days and won two straight games for the first time since 2016.
Last week’s star, running back Fazon Ruth, continued his strong varsity rookie season, rushing 24 imes for 255 yards and two scores, setting a career high and giving him 495 rushing yards and six touchdowns in his first two games. For comparison’s sake, last year’s top offensive producer — the since-transferred Jalen Camp — had 485 rushing yards for the entire season.
Ruth now has two of the top eight single-game rushing totals in school history. His 255 yards on Saturday rank fourth all-time, four yards behind the 259 Tyrone McGraw put up in 2005 against Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Ruth scored on a one-yard run with 5:23 to go in the first quarter after Tamalpais drew first blood. Ruth’s TD was the first of three straight for the Crusaders, as Kefu scored on a six-yard run with 3:09 to go before the half, and his older brother, Lavaka, scored on a 13-yard run with 5:57 to go in the third.
Modeste’s run-heavy offense also saw Aden Jackson rush 12 times for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Lavaka Kefu, was everywhere on defense and added a rushing touchdown. The two teams traded touchdowns until Ruth hit on a six-yard score at the start of the fourth quarter, and Kemoeatu Kefu scored on an eight-yard run five minutes later.
Ian Tupulua, who had four sacks in the opener against Terra Nova, added two more on Saturday.
The last time Riordan won back-to-back games was Sept. 3 and 10, 2016. The last time the Crusaders were 2-0 was 2015, when they won their first five games and reached the Division III Central Coast Section title game. The team that beat them? The Sacred Heart Prep Gators and their defensive coordinator, Mark Modeste.
Riordan’s Most Yards Rushing, Single-Game
Yards / Player / Year / Opponent
270 Anthony Balinton 2004 Jefferson
263 Carl Braboy 1969 St. Francis
259 Tyrone McGraw 2005 S. H. C.
255 Fazon Ruth 2019 Tamalpais
254 Tyrone McGraw 2005 Burlingame
240 Jerry White 1956 Bishop Armstrong
240 Fazon Ruth 2019 Terra Nova
239 Carl Braboy 1969 Mitty