Broncos assemble

An afternoon practice at Kenwood Academy's home field, 5000 S. Lake Park Ave., on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

The Kenwood Academy Broncos, reigning Chicago Public League football champions, were off to a rough start this season. After suffering a narrow season opening loss to Glenbard North (21-18) on August 27, and the loss of a quarterback due to injury sustained during the match, the Broncos are turning their luck around.  

“We went back to the drawing board, and we came back the next two games more determined,” said senior wide receiver Logan Lester. “And we got the (win) for both of those.”

At this time last season, the Broncos had won their first four consecutive games. This year, following the opener loss, head coach Sinque Turner’s team won their first game on September 2 to Bradley-Bourbonnais (14-10). This victory came in spite of losing junior star quarterback Nacari McFarland the previous week, who during the game suffered a season ending fractured wrist when an opposing player tackled him, crushing his arm in the fall.

McFarland has since been replaced by fellow junior Kevari “Lighting” Thunderbird. Since taking over as starting quarterback, Thunderbird has registered a total of 459 passing yards, three touchdowns and a 0.556 completion percentage in the next three games of the season.

The September 2 game began a winning streak. On September 9 the Broncos defeated Taft High School (25-7) and last Friday, September 16 they clobbered the Hubbard High School Greyhounds (50-0). 

“We’re confident,” Lester said. “I think we’re going to go real far.”

Turner, who is currently in his fifth season as the head coach, agrees.

“I think they got high confidence; I mean these guys are the defending city champions,” Turner said. “We got about 30 seniors on this football team. This is the same team from last year, with a year of extra experience now. They’re playing with a high level of confidence, but we have to make sure that they’re not overconfident.”

Some of these seniors include running back Taylen Goodwin, kick returner Davonte Johnson and athlete Omarion Lewis. So far this season, the three have a combined total of eight touchdowns.

That said, the Broncos also lost some key defensive ends, safeties, cornerbacks and linebackers to graduation: Jalil Martin, Diego Oliver, Tyson Johnson, Elijah Matthews and BJ Mayes.

This Saturday, September 24, the Broncos will face off against longtime conference rivals the Morgan Park Mustangs. According to Turner, this is one of the team’s most anticipated games of the season. 

“They got a lot of star football players,” said Turner, noting that the Broncos are 1-2 against Morgan Park; Kenwood won their first match in years against the Mustangs (27-9) last season. 

Other formidable foes the Broncos will face this season include the Simeon Academy Wolverines, Curie High School Condors and Wendell Phillips Academy Wildcats. 

“They’re all talented groups,” Turner said. “Whoever's the most prepared going into those games, ready to play and make the least mistakes, is going to be the team that will win (the city championship).”

“The only thing that will help us defeat them is really playing Bronco football,” said Lester. “We got to play together and we got to be smart. And aggressive.”

Kenwood’s next match is against the Morgan Park Mustangs this Saturday afternoon, September 24 at Lane Tech’s Fritz Pollard Field. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

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