Last year, the North Kansas City football team largely leaned on running back C.J. Price on offense.
The 2018 Simone Award finalist finished last season with 3,022 yards and 38 touchdowns on 314 carries. He got the bulk of attention after producing a monster season and seemed to be the face of Northtown football.
However, Brandon Hall is a player who may have been overlooked by high school football fans in 2018.
Hall may be the next big thing for North Kansas City this year. He showed that against William Chrisman Friday night when he rushed for 198 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns and has three receptions for 48 yards and another score in a 38-17 victory at home.
The young Bears had trouble tracking down Hall when he was in the open field. The Chrisman defense lost contain on him when Northtown quarterback Seth Mattly gave Hall the ball on an option pitch and he ran free down the right sideline for an 85-yard touchdown run with 6:06 left to extend the Hornets’ lead to 27-16. Hall later helped put the game away when he got around the Bears’ defense on the edge and raced down the left sideline for a 47-yard TD run to put the game away with 2:20 remaining.
“He’s been a stud,” Northtown coach Leon Douglas said of Hall. “He did this last year, too, rushed for a bunch of yards and caught for a bunch of yards. He’s a tremendous talent. He knows what to do with the ball in space.
“Sometimes people forget how great of a season Hall had last year.”
Chrisman coach Matthew Perry gave Hall plenty of credit.
“We didn’t execute sometimes. We had a plan to not let him run like he did, but he did,” Perry said. “Hats off to him. He’s a good kid and they used him well. They had a good scheme.”
Even with the struggles on defense, there were plenty of positives for Chrisman. A big one was the passing game, something that was expected to take time to develop with junior Osi Nauer playing the position for the first time. He connected on 6 of 11 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 86 yards on 19 totes.
Before the Hornets ran away with the game, Nauer helped keep it close when he lobbed a picture-perfect pass to Lynden Shell Jr., who leaped and grabbed a 10-yard TD pass on a fade route with cut Northtown’s lead to 21-16 midway through the fourth period. He also hit Chrisman wide receiver Marcus Wigfall for a 34-yard strike in the first period, which eventually set the stage for running back Kameron Thompson’s 7-yard scoring run which tied the game at 7-all midway through the first quarter.
“That’s big for us, that we are able to throw the ball,” Perry said. “That’s going to make us better in the end. We didn’t throw the ball well in practice all week and that was a very good surprise.”
Overall, Perry was pleased with his offense.
“We drove the ball offensively and we looked pretty good,” Perry said. “We did some really good things. We just couldn’t punch it in at the end. We need to be able to do that.”
Chrisman held the lead for a brief period after senior Ja’V’air Lankford recovered a muffed snap from North Kansas City, later setting up a 28-yard field goal for freshman Mitchell Cory, giving the Bears a 10-7 lead.
But each time Chrisman scored, Northtown always seemed to have a response. A big kickoff return from Hornets sophomore Jelanie Murray set up a 16-yard TD run for Jeremy Brown, which gave them the lead for good at 14-10 with 43 seconds left in the first half. Brown later extended the lead to 21-10 with another 16-yard jaunt to close the third.
“He has a different level of speed that we haven’t had at that position before,” Douglas said of Brown. “He’s very slippery. He’s definitely got a little bit of an edge to him.”
Wigfall caught four passes for 74 yards and Thompson rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries for Chrisman (0-2).