As he made his way to the locker room after another successful Friday night, Lee’s Summit North football coach Jamar Mozee had to stop and marvel at how far the Broncos had come in such a short amount of time.
Mozee had just watched the Broncos beat Blue Springs South 29-16 at Bronco Stadium in a game they dominated from the start. It was North’s first victory over Blue Springs South since 2010 and, combined with a lopsided victory over Raymore-Peculiar the week before, left the Broncos 2-1 overall and in the Suburban Gold Conference.
And just one year ago, North was stumbling through yet another losing season.
“Man, what a difference a year makes,” Mozee said. “It’s just different. They came out swinging and came out fighting and they fought the whole time. I’m proud of them.”
Much has changed since last season, when North slid to 2-8 after going 5-5 in Mozee’s first year. Last year’s Broncos relied on a passing game featuring two future Division-I receivers. This year they rely on a deep and speedy backfield, which accounted for 319 rushing yards and all four touchdowns against the Jaguars.
Mozee though believes there’s even a bigger factor behind the Broncos’ progress. They’re tired of all the losing, and tired of the perceptions about a program that’s had just two non-losing seasons in the past seven years.
“This group I knew was a little special because in the offseason they were buying in, they were serious, they were here they worked hard,” Mozee said. “It means something to them and I think it shows on the field.”
“We’re changing history for our school,” North quarterback Christian Carter said. “We came in this summer wanted to change history, change the program around so people would think different about Lee’s Summit North.”
Carter is helping to change that history in his first season as a starter. After recording 243 yards and three touchdowns the week before against Raymore-Peculiar, Carter tallied 172 yards and a TD on 14 carries against Blue Springs South. The Broncos also got 95 yards and two TDs from running back Ontario Russell and 59 yards and a TD from fellow ball carrier John Eldridge.
“When you’ve got three guys like that you give them the ball,” Mozee said. “And those three guys a can play.”
And the Broncos wasted no time showing off that speed and setting the tone for the game. Two plays after Blue Springs South’s 14-play 76-yard opening drive ended with an interception in the end zone by North’s Jordan Murray, Carter found room on the left sideline and raced 74 yards for the first TD.
Carter broke loose for a 44-yard run during North’s next possession to set up Russell’s first score, a 6-yard run up the middle as the first quarter ended. The drive appeared to be stalled on North’s 39-yard line when Mozee called for a fake punt and Myles Craddock took the snap and ran nine yards for a first down.
Remarkably, Mozee ordered another fake punt in the fourth quarter, and Craddock had another nine-yard gain that kept another scoring drive alive.
“Calling that was never on my mind before the game started,” Mozee said. “We saw how they aligned the time before and we called it and it worked. As time went by we saw they were lined up the same way and we called it again.”
Blue Springs South got a 34-yard field goal from Nathan Rockwell and 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Brody Parker to pull within 14-9 by halftime, and the Broncos offense bogged down at the start of the third quarter.
But North ended a short drive after the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs with a 9-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion by Eldridge late in the third quarter, and Russell followed that with a 23-yard TD run after the fake punt in the fourth quarter.
Parker threw a 10-yard TD pass to Ethan Swanegan late in the fourth quarter for Blue Springs South, but the Jaguars were already well on their way to a third-straight loss to open the season.
While pleased with the Broncos’ progress, Mozee knows some big challenges still lie ahead. The next one comes Friday night when North travels to Lee’s Summit West.
“In our league it’s an every-week thing, but we’re progressing, Mozee said. “I tell my guys don’t get too high don’t get too low. Just come to work every day and stay together.”