Football coaches usually dread platooning quarterbacks. A team should have one leader, the conventional wisdom goes, and that leader should be decided early and absolutely.
Lee’s Summit North is defying that wisdom this season – deliberately and successfully.
In its 47-21 dismantling of Staley Friday night on its home field, Lee’s Summit North (2-1 overall, 2-0 Suburban Silver Conference) , gave almost equal time to quarterbacks Maxxwell Ford and Elijah Leonard. Ford, a senior, threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns Leonard, a junior, threw for one TD and rushed for another.
And no matter which one was under center, the Broncos’ offense, which struggled to find its footing in its first two games, moved the ball smartly against the visiting Falcons.
“It has to work with the two guys involved, and they’re two really good people,” Lee’s Summit North coach Jamar Mozee said. “The get along, they understand what we’re trying to do. They both play their part and they do a great job of doing that.”
Mozee had an undisputed starter last season in Tre Baker, but he’s throwing footballs now for Southern Illinois. He soon found he had two worthy options to replace him Ford, who transferred from St. Thomas Aquinas, and Leonard, who came over from Liberty North.
Mozee didn’t expect them to click right away, since Leonard didn’t play much at his former school and Ford came from a different offensive scheme. But he knew both would be effective eventually. And while they competed to be QB1, Mozee wanted both out on the field.
“I believe they both offer something that that helps us,” Mozee said. “They both can run it, they both throw it well, they both move around in the pocket – they do a really good job.”
And while both came to North looking for an opportunity to play, Ford and Leonard are fine with sharing the job.
“It’s such healthy competition,” Ford said. “It’s great for us. We get to compete at practice and support each other in the games. We can run the ball like we want and not worry about keeping the quarterback safe. It’s great.”
“We work together,” Leonard said. “We’re a team and both of us are leaders for our team. Honestly, it’s going good. We’re both real good friends and we hang out together. Before we got here we agreed to do it together.”
Leonard started North’s first series and led the Broncos on a 7-play 78-yard drive he capped with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle. Ford, benefitting from a bad snap on a Staley punt, started the Broncos next drive at midfield and guided them to a 1-yard TD run by Tanner Howes.
Ford capped a 9-play, 98-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Yasir Winston early in the second quarter. Leonard ended the next drive with an 8-yard TD pass to Isiaiah Mozee, and North took a 28-0 lead into halftime.
And that was just the start for a North offense that would tally a well-balanced 523 total yards – 242 on the ground and 281 through the air.
“I think it’s kind of a measure of comfort level,” Mozee said. “We’ve got a lot of first-year starters, guys who just haven’t played. They’re getting used to what we’re doing and that’s what you’re seeing.”
Staley (1-2, 0-2) got on the board early in the third quarter with a 39-yard TD pass from quarterback Cole Robertson to senior wide receiver Jayven Stallings. Robertson, who threw for 230 yards and two TDs, got some help from back-to-back pass interference and roughing the passer calls on the Broncos.
North responded three plays later with a 44-yard catch-and-run TD pass from Ford to Isaiah Mozee for a 34-7 lead.
North tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 2-yard run from Elijah Mozee and Elmoni Vance’s 12-yard run. Staley receiver John Randle III caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
But this night belonged to the Broncos’ two-headed offense, which has now led North two straight wins after losing its opener at Liberty North.
“It’s been a steady climb,” Ford said. “Week one it was rough. Week two we should have scored more points for sure … and week three we showed what we can really do.”