Liberty North blanks Truman

By Andy Meyer PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: September 8, 2016 - 10:18 PM

Resiliency is a hallmark of winning programs, and Liberty North displayed plenty of it during a 21-0 victory Thursday night against Truman.

The Eagles (2-2) bounced right back from a loss last week with a resounding victory against a Suburban Conference Red Division opponent, posting their second shutout in three weeks.

Ranked eighth in the Class 5 state poll, Liberty North forced six three-and-outs, four turnovers-on-downs and delivered an encouraging performance that indicates the squad is headed in the right direction.

“It was definitely one of our best defensive efforts, but we’ve definitely got a lot of room to improve against Kearney,” Liberty North junior Chris Hampson said. “That’s what we’re looking for right now, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on.”

Strong starts have been crucial for the Eagles, and it took them three minutes and change to grab a lead they wouldn’t give back. On a fourth-down play, senior speedster Jon Redmond found a crease and cruised 39 yards to paydirt.

Liberty North faced some adversity when quarterback Taylor Bayton suffered an injury on the first play of the second quarter which prevented him from returning.

But Hampson stepped in front of a pass and snagged a clutch interception. On the very next play, Redmond zipped into the end zone to put the Eagles firmly in control. The senior running back finished compiled exactly 100 yards and two scores on 15 carries.

“It was pretty good to bring it back to our offense and help them score,” Hampsen said. “We’re hoping to see more of that.”

Freshman quarterback Jake Van Dyne stepped in for the duration of the game, completing his first two passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. All told, he finished his first varsity appearance with 112 passing yards and impressed Liberty North coach Ken Clemens by performing well in a tough situation.

“That’s what we’ve seen out of him all summer, and that’s why we moved him up right away to varsity/JV,” Clemens said. “... He’s also just a dynamite kid, and I couldn’t be happier with the way he played.”

Truman (1-3) routinely gained ground against the Eagles’ tough defense, but a lack of consistency prevented the Patriots from battling back into the contest.

“Our offense could not have a continuous series of plays without making a mistake, things that just kill drives,” Truman coach Gregg Webb said. “And we just had way too many of them.”

The Patriots racked up more than 200 rushing yards, including a game-high 102 yards on just 12 carries from Alex Kimble. But Truman drove into the red zone just once, and the squad’s balanced option attack couldn’t string together enough big plays to make a dent in Liberty North’s lead.

“We just need to be more consistent,” Webb said. “I still believe this football team can make a little bit of a run. We just have to stop making mistakes.”

Neither team mustered much momentum during a scoreless second half that saw the squads combine for just eight combined first downs. But staunch defensive efforts from both sides provided encouragement for both Truman and Liberty North during the middle stages of their respective seasons.

Even with such a complete defensive performance, Clemens believes the Eagles can still make progress and is eager to see further improvement.

“The record’s not important,” Clemens said. “What’s important to us is whether our kids are playing hard and smart.”