Lancers too much for Indians
It was an inauspicious beginning and an even worse finish for the Shawnee Mission North football team Friday night.
The Indians muffed the game-opening kickoff reception on the contest’s first play, opening the door for a quick strike Shawnee Mission East offense. Two plays later, East senior running back Jake Libeer scored on a 17-yard touchdown run and the Lancers had a 7-0 lead just 44 seconds into the contest, setting the tone for a dominating 42-7 Shawnee Mission East win.
“It’s absolutely all my fault this evening,” said a visibly disappointed North head coach Dennis Grayless after the game. “My team was not ready to play. They dominated us on the offensive line. They attacked and we didn’t respond.”
North tried to respond the next time they had the ball, and mounted a 10-play, 44-yard drive to get all the way to the East 33, but turned the ball over on downs when a fourth-and-3 quick pitch to junior running back Caleb Denman was snuffed out for a 5-yard loss.
It took East just four more plays to score again — on another counter run by Libeer, this one from 29 yards out. With 5:23 left to play in the first quarter, the Lancers led 14-0.
The highlight of the night for North came on the ensuing kickoff from East. Senior Mason Perez took the Lancer kick at his own seven-yard line, zipped left, then into the middle of the field, then back left again to take the return 93 yards to the end zone. Junior Armando Contreras converted the point-after-touchdown and the Indians had pulled back into the contest at 14-7 with 5:08 left to play in the first period.
However, East mounted a six-play, 76 yard scoring drive — 62 yards of it through the air — on their next possession. Senior fullback Jeff Cole punctuated the scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge and East had a 21-7 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
The North defense was able to keep the East offense out of the end zone in the second quarter, but special teams provided the Lancers with one more scoring opportunity. On fourth-and-8 from their own 20, the Indians were forced to punt. The Lancers forced their way through the line of blockers and smothered junior punter Sean Keller’s kick. The ball then bounced off the turf and players before finally settling in the end zone where an East player pounced on it, giving the Lancers a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Lancers added two more touchdowns in the second half on their way to the 42-7 victory.
After the game, Grayless met with his junior and senior players for an extended period of time.
“I wanted to emphasize to them that there isn’t anything magical about succeeding at this game,” Grayless said. “You have to work hard every day. It’s not just about wanting to succeed, it’s about putting in the effort, and it can’t be just eight guys doing it. It’s got to be all 11.”
Senior fullback Mitch Paden led the way offensively for the Indians with 43 yards on 11 carries.
North (1-2) next plays at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, against Shawnee Mission West.