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 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’s 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 on the field against Taft on Saturday, throwing a touchdown and running for two to lead the Broncos to a 25-7 win 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 passing for 146 yards. He connected with Logan Lester for a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Lester had five catches for 57 yards for Kenwood (2-1).
The Broncos’ defense shut Taft out until the final five minutes of the game.
“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 passing for 11 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He was under constant threat from 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 in just 12 carries. He scored 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 to play. The Eagles (0-3) lost close games to Glenbrook North and Grant the first two weeks of the season.
The game was originally scheduled to be played on Friday night but was postponed after 17-year-old Kanye Perkins was shot and killed near Kenwood’s school 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.”