By Joey Gelman
In a clash of two top 25 teams in the state to kick-off the 2023 season, it was Lincoln Way East that prevailed over Kenwood 52-12.
But the score does not tell the whole story as Kenwood looks to bounce back to begin what should be a memorable season on the field.
The #24 Broncos had flashes of brilliance on offense, thanks to a huge catch and run by Patrick Clacks III in the 2nd quarter and an 85-yard Touchdown by I’Marion Stewart in the 4th. In his season debut, Senior Quarterback NeCari McFarland went 10 for 18 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown after missing almost the entire 2022 season due to injury.
Kenwood was also without star-defensive lineman Marquise Lightfoot, who left early in the 1st quarter with an injury.
Kenwood is hoping these offensive bursts and stout defensive play continue to come together as the season continues as the Broncos try to cement themselves atop the Chicago Public League this season.
During the post-game interviews, Lincoln Way East’s Head Coach Rob Zvonar did not begin his Q & A on anything having to do with his team’s victory, but instead chose to praise Kenwood, as he knows what this team will be when they put all the pieces together.
“It starts with their coaching staff, their players, hard working kids that worked their tails off. They do a great job program wide,” Zvonar said. “ They’re going to make a lot of noise…they’re going to settle in here and make a big run and be a really good football team. We won’t see this kind of talent week to week… to come out here against some of the best players not in the state, but some of the best players in the country… our hats are off to them, They’ve earned that.”
Zvonar also was impressed with Kenwood’s program growth and the opportunity to play at a historic CPS stadium.
“We have so much respect for Kenwood Academy and for what Coach Turner (Kenwood) has done up here and for public league football overall,” said Zvonar. “ What a great experience to come to historic Gately Stadium… they gave us all we could handle early… Huge spot in my heart for how hard they work up here, and to put a product like this on the field, even though it went our way today, is tremendous.”
Kenwood Head Coach Sinque Turner, who helped the Broncos capture the 2021 Chicago Public League City Championship, knows just how important playing this type of competition is to set his student-athletes up for the rest of the season.
“It’s just good that we’re opening up with this type of competition for week one… so we can prepare ourselves for the postseason, “ Turner said. “We are one of the up and rising programs…feels good to see what we measure at now against the rest of the field… playing the best of the best. Sky’s the limit, just gotta keep grinding.”
The Broncos continue their season this week with another tough test as they travel to play St. Rita Friday at 7:30pmCT.