By Mike Genet
The timing couldn’t have been much worse for Lee’s Summit North’s football team in Friday’s Suburban Big Six game at Bronco Stadium.
The Broncos trailed Class 6 top-ranked and unbeaten Blue Springs 14-3 in the third quarter following a 12-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Warmack, but were putting together their best drive of the game, having driven 40 yards in six plays to the Blue Springs 38. They were facing a second-and-8 when, at approximately 8:40 p.m. and with 1 minute, 36 seconds left in the quarter, the game officials spotted the lightning-illuminated clouds in the distance and stopped play for what turned into an extended delay.
A little more than two hours later, following an impressive lightning show that eventually yielded heavy rain, officials and coaches convened and decided to postpone play until 5 p.m. Saturday. The game will resume exactly as it was when play stopped.
“We were finally moving the ball and doing some things,” said North coach Ty Kohl, whose team entered Friday with a three-game losing streak and a 2-3 overall mark. “But you’ve got to be flexible and you’ve got to do what’s best for the people and the players. I’m real proud of the kids’ effort the first three quarters.”
Kohl said he remembered a similar delay in St. Joseph three years ago.
“That was different because it was an hour away and we were not coming back,” he said. “We finished at about two in the morning.”
Blue Springs (5-0) coach Kelly Donohoe said he remembers a 2008 game with Rockhurst that was completely postponed until Saturday due to weather.
Another time, at Rockhurst in 2001, the weather dictated a delay similar to this one.
“We finished on Monday because Avila University had the field reserved for Saturday,” Donohoe said. “That was the infamous September 10th game, and the next day was a 9/11.”
North also caught a tough break to start the game, as Josh Caldwell returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a would-be touchdown that got nullified by a holding penalty.
On Blue Springs’ first possession, a third-down pass from Ian Brown went through Kaleb Prewett’s hands and into those of North cornerback Jordan Caldwell, who returned the interception 41 yards to the Wildcat 29. But Donald Garcia’s sack helped force a fourth down, and Cobi Bissel fought with Jalen Ford for Matt Brumfield’s pass to the end zone before ultimately knocking it loose.
Blane Howell’s punting helped keep North from gaining much foothold offensively, as he averaged nearly 54 yards on his first three boots. The Wildcats took advantage of the favorable field position early in the second quarter, after Darrius Shepherd’s 25-yard punt return to the Bronco 20. After an intentional grounding and North’s Kellen Shockley throwing Warmack for a 4-yard loss, Brown lofted a 29-yard touchdown to Prewett. Howell booted the extra point at the 9:47 mark.
The Wildcats took that 7-0 lead into halftime, having limited the Broncos to just 57 yards offensively but totaling just 107 themselves.
“We’re just really frustrated with our play,” Donohoe said. “We’ve had some high snaps that hurt us, and a turnover and holding penalties – just a combination of offensive woes. But also, Lee’s Summit North is a much-improved team and they’re doing a much better job.”
One such high shotgun snap and fumble on the first play of the third quarter buried the Wildcats at their own 5, and Howell did well to get off a 38-yard line drive punt. The Blue Springs defense would have come away with a complete stop if not for James Harris’ 47-yard field goal.
The Wildcats responded with their best drive, an 80-yard trek in 11 plays. Brown completed three passes, and Warmack, limited to zero yards on his first six carries in the first half, carried seven times for 47 yards on the drive, including the 12-yard gallop up the middle to cap the drive with 4:21 showing.
“We started to feel good about what we’re doing,” Donohoe said. “We just need to feed off that tomorrow.”