Kenwood’s defense locks down Taft

The Broncos’ defense blanked Taft until the last five minutes of the game.

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Kenwood’s Mako Grant (9) works around a Taft defender.

Kenwood’s Mako Grant (9) works around a Taft defender.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Kenwood starting quarterback Nacari McFarland injured his arm in the third quarter of the Broncos’ season opener.

That’s a devastating blow for most teams, but Kenwood (2-1) was fortunate to have Kevari Thunderbird waiting in the wings.

The junior’s future is in baseball. He’s a pitcher heading to Eastern Kentucky on a scholarship. But he has been playing football with several of Kenwood’s stars since he was a very young kid, and his older brother is star linebacker K’Vion Thunderbird.

“I’ve just had to play my role and step up and be a leader,” Thunderbird said.

He stepped up against Taft on Saturday, throwing for a touchdown and running for two to lead the Broncos to a 25-7 victory on the road.

“We are kind of used to having scrappy quarterbacks in my tenure here,” Kenwood coach Sinque Turner said. “He’s a big-time baseball star, so he’s just helping us out here. We have full trust in him.”

Thunderbird was 9-for-17 for 146 yards. He connected with Logan Lester for a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Lester had five catches for 57 yards.

The Broncos’ defense blanked Taft until the last five minutes.

“We came out and stuck to the game plan,” K’Vion Thunderbird said. “We just wanted to dominate and have fun.”

Taft quarterback Barah Abad was 11-for-24 for 111 yards and one touchdown with one interception. He was hounded all day by Kenwood’s defensive line, led by Marquise Lightfoot.

“We have some highly decorated guys on the defensive side,” Turner said. “Lightfoot drawing so much attention helps out tremendously. It makes it easier for the back end when we have that much pressure.”

Kenwood running back Davonte Johnson had his best game of the season, rushing for 100 yards on 12 carries. He had a 16-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“I got the ball in my hands, and I did what I had to do,” Johnson said. “This will boost our morale, and we will come back even better. Everyone keeps doubting us because of that first loss, but we are going to show everybody.”

Taft’s touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Abad to junior Steven Tantchev with 4:28 left. The Eagles (0-3) lost close games to Glenbrook North and Grant the first two weeks of the season.

The game was originally scheduled for Friday night but was postponed after 17-year-old Kanye Perkins was shot and killed near Kenwood Academy on Friday afternoon. Perkins was new to the school.

“That was about the safety of us returning later at night [from Taft],” Turner said. “We wouldn’t be back to Kenwood until 10:30, and our principal didn’t think that was an appropriate time to get back with that event just having happened in the neighborhood. It was a safety precaution.”

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