What Steve said: Steve Bubalo 9/9
By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
In this day and age of offensive football, last Friday night’s Kearney-Liberty North slugfest dominated by a pair of stout defenses was a rare sight.
Sure, I love touchdowns as much as anybody else. I can’t get enough of seeing a running back break a long run or a wide receiver streaking down the sideline for a score.
And in today’s football, it happens a lot. Teams are routinely scoring in the 30s, 40s and, on rare occasions, the 50s at all levels of football.
So that’s what made the game between these two state title contenders – Kearney in Class 4, Liberty North in Class 5 – so enjoyable.
The thing that stood out to me most was not just the speed of each team’s defense, but their ability to fly to the ball and swarm the ball carrier. It seemed like tackles were made by three or four guys on every play.
Leading the way for both teams are linebackers who are seemingly in on the action at all times.
For Liberty North, it’s senior Sal Silvio, while junior Cale Garrett leads the way for the Bulldogs.
I covered a handful of Liberty North games last year, and it was hard not to recognize the impact Silvio made as a junior. As you can imagine, he’s only gotten better in his final season.
It was cool after the game to see the respect each player had for the other. As I interviewed Garrett, he stopped mid-sentence as Silvio walked by and said, “Great game, 52. You’re a heck of a linebacker.”
Silvio, while dejected from the loss, returned the praise to his counterpart.
And Garrett’s play can’t be overlooked. His name is becoming popular on the recruiting trails. According to the recruiting site Rivals, Garrett is the No. 3 player in Missouri in the 2016 class, with interest from schools such as Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Arkansas. In fact, he’s already received an offer from Kansas.
With a game like Friday night’s, it’s easy to see why. Don’t believe me? Liberty North head coach Ken Clemens is far more credible than I, and his opinion of Garrett was awfully high, saying he “almost single-handedly stopped our run game.”
Obviously, these guys aren’t alone. It takes 10 other guys on the field doing their jobs to make what these teams do on defense so impressive. The communication. The dedication. The attitude. The talent. It’s all there.
And in an era of explosive, spread offenses, it’s a welcome sight.
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