LIBERTY — There’s something unsettling about hosting a state football power on Homecoming.
But it didn’t seem to matter to Liberty North Eagles when they brought in the always-tough Staley Falcons for a Suburban Red clash on Friday, Oct. 4, at the Crossley Family Activity Complex.
“It was either Staley or Blue Springs,” Eagles coach Greg Jones said on hosting a strong program for Homecoming. “It was pick your poison, so I just rolled the dice. I’ve lost only one Homecoming game in my 27 years coaching.”
Jones’ good fortunes continued.
Liberty North, Kansas City’s top-ranked Class 6 squad at No. 4, put together another impressive showing culminating in a 24-12 victory to solidify a lead in the Suburban Red standings and an improvement to 6-0.
“Staley, obviously, is a good team,” Eagles senior quarterback Jake Van Dyne said. “It’s just a great feeling to put on a good show on Homecoming.”
It was Liberty North’s second regular season victory over Staley in the ninth meeting between the two schools. The Eagles beat the Falcons in a Class 5 district semifinal during the 2014 season. And for the Eagles (6-0, 4-0 Suburban Red), it was just another signature win in a potential program-defining season.
“This one feels great,” Eagles receiver Warren Bennet III said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time. I feel like we’re starting to believe in what coach is telling us and believing in ourselves. We came out here and got the job done.”
Liberty North’s defense, which entered the contest holding opponents to under 10 points per game, held the Staley (4-2, 3-1) scoreless through three quarters.
By halftime, Liberty North forced the Falcons into five punts. After Van Dyne turned in his first interception of the season on the Eagles’ first drive, the three-year signal caller dialed up Luke Mathews for a 67-yard touchdown play on the second drive to take a 7-0 lead with 1:20 left in the first.
Liberty North then went quiet on offense, punting four times before entering the locker room up 7-0.
The Eagles managed three points on the opening drive of the third, thanks to a Blake Craig 24-yard boot.
As Liberty North’s defense continued to hold Staley at bay, Keshawn Turner found the end zone with a two-yard run for a 17-0 lead with 10:34 left in the contest.
Minutes later the Falcons found some life with touchdown runs from Dermont Marshall, the second set up by an 80-yard kickoff return to the 1-yard line.
However, Van Dyne, who added a short touchdown run for the game’s final score with 7:24 left, and the offense kept the Staley offense off the field long enough and Bradyn Snider had an interception with 2:34 left to secure the win.In the end, the Eagles outgained the Falcons 460-211. Van Dyne finished 16-of-29 for 364 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
“I have to give it up to my offensive line and our defense,” Van Dyne said. “I mean, 12 points again and that second one was pretty much a kick return. If they keep playing like that, we’ll keep winning. And whenever I have time to make my reads I’m confident that we can tear up any defense.”
Mathews led Liberty North in receiving with 131 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Bennett enjoyed a breakout game, catching four passes for 120 yards. Tyler Jenness hauled in seven passes for 91 yards.
“I love the fact that all our receivers can be a threat and make something happen,” Bennett said. “That’s hard for defenses to gameplan against us when everyone on our offense can all make plays.”
Turner finished with 15 carries for 61 yards and a TD, and running mate Zac Willingham-Davis added 46 yards on 10 touches.
All statistics and figures lead to the one that matters most to the Eagles — 6-0. Another statement victory, ahead of another challenge against Blue Springs next week. The Wildcats are 4-2 after falling to Raymore-Peculiar.
“We came out here and got the job done,” Bennett said. “… It’s the cherry on top having this win on Homecoming. For the school, it’s one that everybody can enjoy.”
Liberty North hosts Blue Springs Friday, Oct. 11.