An experienced defense against a banged-up and inexperienced offense was the story of Friday night’s Blue Springs South-Liberty North game.
The Eagles, ranked No. 5 in their first season in Class 5, return several players from a defense that had five shutouts a season ago. Now, a season later, they already have two in two games after a 35-0 victory over the Jaguars.
“We have a lot of experience, so we know what we’re doing out there,” senior linebacker Sal Silvio said. “We approach every game like we’re playing the best team in the state.”
The Liberty North defense made life tough for South’s sophomore quarterback Cale Connors, who is starting in place of the injured Noah Nigro.
The first half especially was a clinic, as the Eagles picked off four passes and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score. On the first three interceptions, the Eagle offense turned each one into a touchdown.
“The defensive line did a good job applying pressure and when he made mistakes we made plays,” Silvio said.
The first score came off an Austin Oard interception, as Brian Sharp ran it in from 7 yards out to make it 7-0.
The next turnover was a Sidney Shumate pick on a tipped ball by KiAndre Pugh. Shumate returned the ball to the Jaguar 6, Sharp found Pugh on a slant route on the next play and it was 14-0.
“Our defensive staff has done a great job with them,” Eagles head coach Ken Clemens said. “They’re smart players, but they keep it simple for them. They have the same job on every play. It all starts up front with the defensive line.”
South (0-2) put its best drive together on its next possession, moving inside the Eagle 10 before a 16-yard loss on a Silvio sack. On fourth-and-22, Mitchell Miller intercepted in the end zone.
The Eagles then marched 80 yards with the capper once again coming from Pugh when Sharp found him for a 9-yard score for a 21-0 lead.
“We were able to put together that nice drive, but we just can’t turn the ball over so many times,” South head coach Greg Oder said.
To show what kind of night it was for the Jaguars, all you have to do is look at a sequence late in the second quarter.
After the defense stopped the Eagles on four straight plays inside the 5, the offense took over at the 1-yard line and subsequently fumbled the ball, which Liberty North’s Blake Moore picked up in the end zone to make it 28-0.
In fact, other than the 80-yard touchdown drive, the South defense didn’t allow a scoring drive of more than 40 yards and also made two fourth-down stops on the goal line.
“I thought the defense played pretty well,” Oder said. “They were put in some tough spots but did a nice job at times.”
But this night belonged to the Eagle defense, which after an hour-and-a-half weather delay, picked up right where it left off. A Connors passed got tipped by two different players before Miller grabbed the interception, his third of the night and sixth for the team.
Liberty North will host Kearney next Friday, while Blue Springs South will host top-ranked Blue Springs, which had its 25-game win streak snapped at Fort Osage.