OTH FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2020: No. 8 North Side Legends

North Side’s Duce Taylor, Arieon McCarter and Jordan Turner.

“Who do you think has the potential to break out?”

“North Side.”

That exchange was heard numerous times as OTH spoke to those within SAC circles over the spring and summer.

But can it happen? Can a Legends team that has gone from zero wins to two wins to four wins over the last three years take the next step?

“We have had a few years of development within the program, so the hope is that we are ready,” North Side coach Mike Brevard said. “This senior group has been with us since a lot of them were starting on varsity as freshmen.

“The key for us is not buying into the hype. To prove we belong, we need to beat one of the big dogs.”

North will get its chance early, once again opening the season against Snider, Bishop Dwenger and Carroll. In 2019, the Legends did not score a single point against those teams, scoring for the first time all year in 2020.

But the improvement over the course of the season was plain to see. A 36-0 shutout loss to Bishop Dwenger in Week 2 turned into a 35-22 competitive game in the playoffs.

The Legends return their starting quarterback Duce Taylor, who sat out the first three weeks last season due to transfer rules and missed another game due to injury. In five games, Taylor showcased just how electrifying he can be – making the magnificent look routine time and time again while throwing for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

However, there is also room for growth. Taylor only completed 41 percent of his passes and did throw three INTs.

“The game has definitely slowed down for Duce, and he is really carrying himself like the big man on campus,” Brevard said. “We expect him to play much more relaxed this season.”

Underrated running back Alex Holliday-Robinson has graduated, but Brevard is excited about senior Ja’suan Lambert in the backfield. Lambert did not play last year and could be the guy that can take some pressure off of Taylor.

The top four pass catchers return, led by junior Jordan Turner (30 receptions, 473 yards, five TDs). Also back are Rodney Woods (11-186-1), Ronald Collins III (11-126-1) and Josh Williams (8-126-1).

Another player to watch will be Northrop transfer Adrian Sewell. The senior wideout caught 18 balls for 223 yards and two scores last year for the Bruins.

Up front, North has two four-year starters in seniors Jacob Lambert and Brandon Brundige. They will be complemented by others will varsity experience, putting the Legends in a good spot up in the trenches.

Defensively, Dazzman Mckenzie at 5-foot-10, 290 pounds will man the nose and can be a disruptor in the middle with his bull rush capability. Jaylen Walker at defensive end is expected to step in and be able to consistently seal the edge.

At the middle level, Brevard is hoping that senior Lah-shon Miller can be “a Cam Rogers” for the Legends, comparing the middle linebacker to Homestead’s standout the last few seasons. Miller will have plenty of responsibilites in defensive sets.

On the back end, senior corner Arieon McCarter (40 tackles, three INTs) is jokingly referred to as “Coach McCarter” due to his ability to speak up to teammates and advise his mates in the secondary. Fellow senior Trevon Redmon will also give the defensive backfield some veteran presence to go with a cadre of juniors and sophomores.

North Side coach Mike Brevard talks to officials before an October 18, 2019 game at Concordia Lutheran.

WHY #8?

The Legends sport a 25-plus strong senior class, which gives Brevard plenty of optimism. The growth shown throughout the 2019 campaign has OTH believing that North can take the next step.

Is this a Victory Bell-contending team like the Ryan Hall-coached teams of the early 2010s? That may be a stretch, but this team has the talent and the experience to compete on most Friday nights.


Can the North offense live up to its potential? It oozes raw talent, but will that talent be more refined than a year ago?

The Legends must enter the season with a chip on their shoulder, not with a swagger as if the program has already proven something, because it hasn’t. That has been a constant reminder from Brevard this pre-season.


Week 1 at Snider

Yup, Week 1.

The challenge that North has with its schedule is that it has three monsters to begin the year back-to-back-to-back. Last season, the Legends lost nearly a dozen players in the first three weeks who walked away from the program due to lopsided losses.

North Side does not necessarily need to beat Snider, but it needs to show it can be competitive against the best the SAC has to offer. That will prove both insiders and outsiders that the Legends are for real.


Ja’suan Lambert, senior, running back

While having a quarterback who can sling it all over the field and make plays with his legs is great, you still need balance when it comes to competing towards the top of the SAC.

Enter Lambert, a senior who did not play a year ago, has been talked up by Brevard as a potential game changer for the Legends A solid blend of speed and size, a running attack that can move the chains and grind out yards similar to Holliday-Robinson did the last few years for North would be big.


No. 15 DeKalb

No. 14 Norwell

No. 13 Adams Central

No. 12 Columbia City

No. 11 Eastside

No. 10 Concordia Lutheran

No. 9 South Adams

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