Backups save the day for Broncos
11/25/2013 12:53 PM
11/25/2013 12:54 PM
Legacy’s 70-49 victory over McKinney North in the 4A Division I Region II area round of the football playoffs last Friday night was remarkable in several aspects. The win extended the Broncos’ longest-ever run in the playoffs, and the 70 points scored was the most ever in a game for the seven-year-old school. But it all came with a heavy toll, as the team lost starting quarterback Terrence Ivery to injury in the first half.
“You go through a lot of emotions,” head coach Chris Melson said. “You’re excited that you’re winning, but then one of your leaders goes down and you hurt for him because you love him and he means so much to all of us. But you have to deal with those things. It’s very difficult.”
The Broncos were already without starting running back K.J. Amous, who missed the game nursing an ankle injury. But all backup Kenton Mayberry did was step in and set a school record with 347 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
“It was incredible what he did,” Melson said. I’m just so proud of him and excited about what he did.”
Legacy shot out of the gate like a cannon, scoring the first 28 points of the contest in the first quarter, including Mayberry’s first touchdown as well as a 27-yard scamper from Ivery before he was taken from the game with a leg injury. He was later diagnosed with a broken fibula and ruled out for the remainder of his senior season.
“Terrence is my best friend off the field,” Mayberry said. “So, I was hurt for him as a friend before I was hurt for him as a teammate. I just kept thinking, ‘Terrence, get up,’ but unfortunately it didn’t play out that way. It was a big mood changer for us. But from that point on, the game was for Terrence.”
Ivery entered the game as the Broncos’ leading passer and second-leading rusher, having handled the majority of snaps from center this year. Thrust into the role of guiding the Legacy offense was junior Sheldon Hogan.
“My first thoughts were that I felt bad for [Terrence],” Hogan said. “But then I thought, well now it’s my turn. It’s my time to go do my job, so go out there and do what God has blessed you to do.”
Though the team was initially stunned by the events, players and coaches had plenty of confidence in Hogan.
“He’s been ready for this moment,” Melson said. “He came in and just did wonderful. I really couldn’t see where he was nervous. He just stepped in there and started playing. He loves to play and wants to play. He’s a competitor and has confidence.”
Hogan confessed there were a few nerves initially, but that he settled into the flow of the game quickly.
“When I first got in there I was kind of nervous, but once the referee blew the whistle I was just like, ‘It’s time to do your job so let’s go.’”
Perhaps a bit stunned by developments, the Broncos watched their big lead almost evaporate. McKinney North, led by standout running back Ronald Jones, ripped off 21 straight second-quarter points to get right back into the ball game.
“We had a bit of a letdown,” Melson said. “All of a sudden we were reeling a little bit.”
The Broncos got to halftime with a 35-28 lead, and the teams played an even third quarter, each scoring a pair of touchdowns. But the fourth quarter belonged to Legacy, and they pulled away for the 70-49 win.
“It was an emotional roller coaster those kids and coaches had to deal with,” Melson said. “I thought they handled it really well and I’m so proud of every guy that was on that sideline Friday night.”
No star outshined that of Mayberry, whose performance put him over 1,000 yards rushing on the season. With Amous out and the backfield’s depth challenged, Mayberry rose to the occasion.
“He’s ready to play all the time,” Melson said. “He had to play every play, so there was no rest. He said, ‘Coach I’m not tired, I feel great.’ I said, ‘That’s awesome.’ I think the first time he went for 25 or 30 [yards] and it was on from there.”
Even Amous himself, who leads the team with 1,864 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns, was in awe of the game Mayberry turned in.
“Just watching Kenton run was amazing,” Amous said. “I think he’s really deserving. Kenton works so hard every day.”
Mayberry’s ability to find success running the ball also took pressure off Hogan.
“It was a humongous deal,” Hogan said. “Kenton is a great back and we all knew it, so we already knew he was going to come in and do his job. We didn’t know he was going to rush for over 300 yards, but with our offensive line and the speed that he has, we knew that we were going to be able to do what we needed to.”
And while Mayberry’s record performance stole many of the headlines, Hogan is also quick to point out that all of their offensive success starts up front.
“My personal opinion is that we have the greatest offensive line in Texas,” he said. “They’ve done a great job all season and are really the superstars of this team. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
With 70 points scored, it’s hard to look past what the Legacy offense accomplished, but the defense played its role as well. Despite giving up 49 points, the Broncos defensive unit was able to temper the success of Jones, one of the area’s leading rushers and such a talented back that Melson said he may be the best he’s faced in his 21-year career.
“We just handled our assignments and filled our gaps appropriately and we bottled him up pretty good. He had three long runs, but for the most part we played assignment football and did well,” Melson assessed. “I think the defense played really great in the first quarter and really great in the fourth quarter. They started fast and finished strong so I’m very proud of that.”
The defense also added to the scoring again – and again it was Everett Williams, who scored his fifth defensive touchdown of the season on a fumble recovery in the first quarter.
“It’s just like the old saying, ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get,’” Williams said.
“It just seems like when we need something to happen, Everett seems to step up and makes it happen,” Melson added. “He finds the football and goes and gets it.”
The Legacy defense will next be tasked with slowing down traditional powerhouse Highland Park. The teams will meet Friday at 12:30 at AT&T Stadium. It’s a big game on a big stage for the Broncos.
“It’s just another great opportunity for our program and for our kids to go out and let people know that we’ve got a good football team and we feel like we can match up with these guys,” Melson said. “It’s exciting to play Highland Park and John Tyler and teams like that.”
It will also be exciting for the team to play at the immaculate AT&T Stadium in Arlington – a place the team has aspired to play all season. In fact, before the season, the players placed blue star stickers on their watches and phones to remind them of the goal of playing on the field with the blue star.
“It’s going to be an amazing feeling, but we can’t get distracted,” Amous said. “We still have to go there with the mindset that we have every other game.”
It won’t exactly be every other game for Hogan, who will make his first career varsity start under Jerry Jones’ 60-yard jumbotron.
“I’m probably going to be extremely nervous, but I’m also going to be very excited to play on that stage. I’ll be ready,” Hogan said. “I don’t feel like it’s really on my shoulders. I just want to stay focused and not really worry about that because that might get me off my game and I don’t want that. Like we always say in practice: mission first.”
The team will also have inspiration from their injured quarterback, Ivery.
“There’s nothing like a team that plays off inspiration, and our inspiration is now to go out and win for him,” Amous said. “We’ve had so many ups and downs it’s not even funny. But at the end of the day, we stick together as a family and hopefully we still have a few more weeks to go.”
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