LIBERTY — No. 2 Liberty North’s perfect season continued Friday, Nov. 8, while longtime Rockhurst coach Tony Severino saw his coaching career come to an end as the Eagles edged Rockhurst 17-14 in a Class 6 District 4 semifinal contest.
Severino led the Hawklets for nearly four decades.
“It is like I told our players, the reason people respect coach Severino so much is because he has always done it the right way,” Liberty North coach Greg Jones said.
While his career with Rockhurst ended in the district semifinals, his team did not go down without a fight.
With the stakes heightened for both teams, Liberty North punched first and never looked back.
The Eagles raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter in front of the home crowd inside the Crossley Family Activity Center.
“The nice thing for us is it is a little rougher, but for kids, their life is centered around so many distractions any more with social media and Snapchat and all the stuff they are dealing with,” Jones said of the potential distractions surrounding the game. “We have had some huge, huge home games, so I think our kids have gotten pretty good at blocking that kind of stuff out and doing what they have to do.”
Blake Craig put the Eagles on the board with with 3:33 left in the first quarter as he converted a 22-yard field goal attempt.
Just over two minutes later, Liberty North found the end zone for the first time, with Jake Van Dyne completing a pass to Warren Bennett III for a five-yard score and 10-0 lead with 1:19 left in the frame.
“It was good for us that we were able to jump on top of them early,” Jones said.
That score stood into the second frame.
Liberty North scored a final time in the second quarter as Van Dyne found Tyler Jenness from four yards out for his second passing touchdown.
The score put Liberty North in the drivers seat with a 17-0 lead with 7:02 left to play until the intermission.
Rockhurst broke into the scoring column 23 minutes, 38 seconds into the contest.
Liberty North led 17-7 heading into the second half.
“Again, credit to Coach Severino, I really learned it from him, don’t beat yourself, so you just keep doing what you are doing and make the other team make mistakes and lucky for us it turned out that way,” Jones said.
As the final horn sounded, Severino ends his Rockhurst career with a record of 345-92-1.
“When you beat a guy like that, it is never because you want to beat him because you don’t like him, you want to win because you have so much respect for him and that is how it was,” Jones said. “Like I told our kids, there is never a mindset of ‘Hey, we want to beat this team.’ ... We want to play good enough so we can stay playing because you care about the people in your locker room so much that you just don’t want to lose that feeling so you play for each other instead of against someone.”
This was the first meeting between the two schools.
“For our program, it is a huge win in the fact that it gets you over the hump of the kids in your program thinking that you never beat Rockhurst,” Jones said. “Our kids know that it is capable of being done. So that is just huge for the future kids to come. For the kids last night, it was just huge because it allows our team to advance and play another week. Like the old saying goes, ‘You are not able to win it if you are not in it.’”