Falcons fly higher

PrepsKC staff

By Mike Lavieri
Posted: August 20, 2017 - 9:01 AM

Friday night was a slew of firsts at Liberty North – not only was it the first game of the 2017 season, but it was also the first game under the helm of Greg Jones, it was the first game at the brand new Crossley Family Activity Complex and it was the first game hosted at a Liberty high school campus in 60 years.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to christen the new stadium as they scored on a two-play, 81-yard drive that featured a 69-yard run on the first play by senior running back Logan Gibson.

“We came out with a bang, but we have a young football team and you have a lot of change going on around here,” Liberty North coach Greg Jones said. “You have a new offense, new defense, new special teams, 10 new coaches. Here’s the one thing I’m proud of: these kids could have ducked their head and took the tail kicking because that team kept coming, but they didn’t. We kept fighting back and fighting back.”

But that was the most Liberty North would celebrate on Friday night as Class 5 No. 3 Staley rolled 50-27.

After a slow start in which the Falcons punted on their first two drives, they scored on their next four to take a commanding 30-7 lead, which included a 51-yard score by senior quarterback John Raybourn, who ran for two touchdowns and threw two touchdowns – both to Rod Criss II.

“Those guys are remarkable athletes,” Staley coach Phil Lite said of Raybourn and Criss. “They communicate well between each other, and some of those touchdowns are those guys coming up together. We’re on the sideline and we tell them, ‘Hey, we think it’s there. If it is, take it.’”

After Liberty North cut the Staley lead to 36-21, Staley was faced with a 4th and 1 from its own 29-yard line midway through the third quarter. Raybourn was in the shotgun and tried getting Liberty North to bite, but Lite called timeout.

When the Falcons trotted back out, Raybourn went back to the shotgun and handed the ball to Aaron Keast for two yards and the first down.

“The kids said it was there,” Lite said. “’Alright boys, if you believe we can get it, let’s go.’ There are some things as coaches it’s hard to see in the press box, it’s hard to see on the sideline and I trust our kids.”