Boys of Fall

Boys+of+Fall

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Blue Valley North Mustang football team took the field at the Blue Valley District Activity Center for the first time in nine months this past friday. The last time that the “boys of fall” stepped off that field, they had suffered a devastating loss to the Shawnee Mission West Vikings, a loss that kept the Mustangs from making the playoffs for the first time in over 10 years.

“I was frustrated and upset that we had beaten ourselves in the second half by making dumb mistakes and not matching the intensity we brought in the first half that gave us our lead,” senior cornerback Joe Lippoli said.

Trying to turn the program around, Coach Andy Sims has made some changes within the mindset of his players and coaching staff, but also the overall perspective of his program.

“When you rebuild a program you must have a plan in place that will fit that high school and community. What works at one school, may not at the other. I feel like we have a good plan to start, but moving forward we need to continue to invest into our younger athletes so that they can grow within the program. Getting bigger, faster and stronger is a huge part of football and we need to make sure our younger athletes are invested in the strength and conditioning program,” Coach Andy Sims said.

Week one, they faced off against the Blue Valley Southwest Timberwolves, the same team that they lost to last year in their first game.

It was obvious that the team’s mindset heading into this game was a lot different than last year’s. With 16 starting seniors, a new run-out tunnel, and some new navy blue uniforms, the team came out energized and played like a whole new team.

“So many people doubt this program and that feeds to our energy and drive on Friday nights. We’ve been competing against ourselves all summer, and I was mostly ready to go out there with all the guys and compete together for four quarters,” senior safety Jake Van Tasell said.

Even with an opening series interception and couple miscues, the Mustangs entered the locker room at halftime with a commanding 21-0 lead over the T-Wolves.

“I felt that our players were just anxious, and I know how committed and tough they are. I felt like if they just focused on [at halftime] making some simple adjustments then we would be much better off. It goes back to knowing your players and what they are capable of, something I struggled with last year being new,” Sims said.

What was said worked, because the team came back on to the field and didn’t skip a beat. The defense was making stops, and the offense was moving down the field with ease. There were touchdowns scored by five different mustangs on offense, along with interceptions on defense by Carter Howes and Keilon Hunter. Along with his interception, Carter Howes led the team with six solo tackles in the game.

“As a defense, we played very well. We were swarming to the football and making plays. As long as we can give our offense some breathing room to put points on the board, we are doing our jobs,” senior captain Carter Howes said.

Avenging their tough loss last season, the Mustangs won by a score of 41-0, the first shutout in Mustang’s history. Coach Andy Sims was much more satisfied this year than after their 17-16 defeat just a year ago.

“It truly was night and day.  Last year the players were still learning how to get lined up, what the expectations were, and trying to get everything else figured out along the way, and us coaches were just as bad.  We truly didn’t know our players.  Things like who is a gamer or what they were capable or not capable of.  This year I feel that everyone, coaches and players, were a lot more familiar with one another, allowing them to focus more on the task at hand, which is going out and playing good football,” Sims said

Next up for the team is Saint Thomas Aquinas, who was picked in the preseason to be the Kansas 5A State Champions. Despite these expectations, the Saints lost their season opener 38-20 to the Mill Valley Jaguars, giving the Mustangs even more confidence than they’ve already gained.

“When this team is fired up and playing well, we are tough to beat. And if we make these two things happen, then I will be expecting an upset over the Saints,” Van Tasell said.

The Mustangs will take on the Saints this friday at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Thomas Aquinas as they look to start off their season 2-0 and continue to turn more heads in their direction.

 

 

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After their 41-0 victory over the Timberwolves, the Mustangs line up to shake the hands of all of their loyal fans.

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The Mustangs reveal their new navy blue uniforms for the first game of the year. They will be dressed in blue, grey or white uniforms for the duration of the season.