Liberty Eagles Press On to District finals
Wed, 11/11/2020 - 12:43pm admin
Michael L. Plum, sports correspondent
The number four seed Liberty Eagles have stunned the pessimists this year. Liberty travelled to Springfield Catholic Friday night where they took on the number one seed in the district tournament.
Liberty started off with Zeb Cornman #33 with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown putting the Eagles on the board 6-0 in thirteen seconds. Catholic punted on their first possession and Liberty wasted no time in scoring again. Tyler Watts #10 made a pass to Corman for forty-one yards followed by Watts to Cornman for a TD, bringing the score 12-0.
On the kick-off, Catholic returned the ball from their thirteen-yard line to the Eagles’ forty-five where Watts made the tackle to prevent a score.
Cornman had a touchdown-saving tackle inside the ten-yard line, giving the Fighting Irish a first and goal. However, the Irish scored on their next set of downs, making the score 12 to 7, Liberty.
The Eagles had five first downs on their next possession, and Carter Pruett #5 ended up with a two-yard end around TD. Catholic scored on the kickoff with a sixty-nine yard run, bringing the score to 18-14 to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the defense stepped up their game. Each team punted the ball twice. The Fighting Irish had the ball with 43 seconds remaining until halftime but fumbled, and Liberty recovered. It was Watts #10 to Drew Ripko #7 for sixty-five yards and first-and-goal from the ten. With 11 seconds left on the clock, Watts had a four-yard scramble for a TD. The half time score was 26-14.
Catholic had a three-and-out to start the third. Liberty, with Carter Pruett #5 at QB, scored a twenty-one-yard TD with Noah Jester #8 on the receiving end. The score was 32-14.
Cal Acklin #3 put a stop to Catholic's next drive with an interception at the Liberty twelve-yard line that he advanced to the forty-seventh. Liberty failed to score, and turned the ball over on downs.
With 9:31 remaining in the fourth, Catholic scored a TD and two-point conversion, taking the score to 32-22. Pruett #5 batted down a pass, and had a TD-saving interception returned for forty-two yards. Liberty's defense prevented Catholic from scoring, gained another possession, and ran out the clock for the win.
"The kids came out really fast in the first quarter, and thank goodness they did, because they're a quality team and they were able to adjust and come right back. We had some veterans step up and really help us. It was nice to see. My defensive line is a bunch of seniors. They're anchored by Devon Shoup, and he's a wrecking ball. Lucas Barnes, 285 pounds, in the middle soaks up a lot of blocks and keeps on going. Kaden Daniels another big tackle on the other side. They really lead the way to help our linebackers flow. We have Keegun Daniels standing behind them, and he's just a sophomore. He's going to be a dandy. Tyler Watts and Carter Pruett, you know are athletes. Carter Pruett's interception near the end of the game was a relief. You know we were there over and over and over again, and we just couldn't come up with an interception, and finally we got one and put it away." said Head Coach Brock Kenaga. Offensive Coach Chris Holland explains Liberty's dual quarterback offense like this, "Well, we have Carter Pruett, who is a fourteen year-old freshman, and then we have a seventeen year-old quarterback Tyler Watts, and Watts is our captain. Carter has gotten stronger, stronger, and stronger and we felt like we weren't using him to his full potential. We decided the Salem week to go to the two-quarterback system. Ever since then, the running game has really taken off, and it's difficult for a defense to tell where we are running the football.
As far as it goes for Fair Grove next week, we are going to keep doing what we do. The kids are working really really hard. We're not going to do anything different. Our offensive line is a great group of kids who constantly communicate well with the coaching staff. They communicate well with each other. Tonight, a lot of times I was calling the play and saying "choice" and the O line would holler back at Tyler or Carter, and then that's the way they would run the play based on how the defense was aligned. It's not normal for high school kids to communicate that well, and that just shows how much hard work and dedication those kids have put in.”
The Liberty Eagles are now 9-2 and will travel to Fair Grove to take on the Eagles, Friday November 13 at 7:00 p.m.