Liberty Hill proves it’s human

Since harvesting consecutive gold crowns, Panthers not dominators


Junior cornerback Jaden Boatright leads a Liberty Hill defense that has allowed just 40 points in three games so far this season. 
Thunderstruck photos Junior cornerback Jaden Boatright leads a Liberty Hill defense that has allowed just 40 points in three games so far this season. Thunderstruck photos After racking up back-toback state championships in 2006 and 2007, and in the process winning 38 straight games, the Liberty Hill Panthers have proven in the past couple of seasons that they are indeed human.

Since falling to Celina in the 2008 Class 3A semifinals, the Panthers have posted a mere mortal 13-10 ledger without one single playoff victory.

After going 4- 5 in 2009, Liberty Hill regained its District 25-3A crown last season, but were uncharacteristically booted out of the playoffs in the first round to finish 8-3.

“When we were in the district with them, they had zero weaknesses at any position,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said. “And they had zero kids playing both ways. They had a phenomenal group of kids.”

Liberty Hill enters Friday’s contest with Rockdale with a very pedestrian 1-2 mark and are coming off a 13-12 loss to China Spring after failing to convert a two-point play with 18 seconds remaining after Jonathan Johnston’s touchdown.

Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance may have forgotten the old coach’s adage: “go for the tie on the road, the win at home.”

“You know me,” Vance said, “I didn’t come here to tie.”

The Panthers have not done anything drastic and Tigers fans will recognize the “10 yards and a cloud of dust” Slot-T offense that earned the Panthers 82 wins since 2002.

“When they started that Slot-T offense, it was new to everybody,” Miller said. “It’s a lot more familiar to defensive coaches now.”

However, Liberty Hill’s top player resides on the defensive side in end Brice Bishop (6-foot-4, 195) who made 75 stops a year ago and is the pre-season player of the year in District 25-3A.

“Of course all anybody ever talked about was their offense, but to me they have always had unbelievable defenses,” Miller said. “They put out two or three defensive players a year who are phenomenal.”

Fullback Brandon Corn and tailback Johnny Johnston (both seniors) are the main cogs in the Slot machine, combining for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010.

The difference with the Panther teams of the recent past and the past couple of squads is that they haven’t been chewing up the same kind of yardage and punishing scoreboards with points.

Gone are the 5,000 yard rushers and 60 point outbursts a game.

The Panthers have scored just 26 points so far this season, with 14 of that coming in a 14-7 win over Cuero, their lone win of the season.

In last year’s 16-7 victory at Tigerland Stadium, the Panthers took advantage of two Rockdale turnovers to grab an early 10-0 lead.

In a defensive battle, neither team got completely untracked offensively.

The Tiger defense allowed Liberty Hill just 152 rushing yards and barely three yards per carry.

Corn accounted for 79 of the total.

Rockdale mustered up just 126 yards of offense, only 47 on the ground after Tiger receivers dropped six Ethan Brinkley passes, two for probable touchdowns.

“We had the dropped touchdowns and then the bad deep snap late in the game,” Miller said. “Liberty Hill has played three good teams, whatever their record is. We can’t have that this time around.”

TIGER TRACKS

• Get me re-write: Ethan Brinkley broke one of his own passing marks from a week ago with his 32 completions. His 51 attempts bests D.J. Marek’s mark of 44 against Giddings in 2005. His quarterback rating is an impressive 137.4 Take a look at Brinkley’s current numbers through three games compared to all of last season. 2010—71-167, 825 yards 9 TDs 2011—78 -119, 917 yards 5 TDs

• With the win, Miller joins Ray Birchfield and Fred Johnson as the only other Tiger coaches to defeat Cameron three times.

• How rare of a feat was Noe Zelaya’s 31-yard field goal Friday night? It is just the sixth field goal in Miller’s six years here and three of those came in his very first game.

• James David led the TIgers in tackling for the third straight week with an impressive 17 stops. He was followed by Markus Hayes with 16. The sophomore linebacker has 43 tackles in three games.

• The Tigers are playing relatively penalty-free football, having just eight flags thrown against them in three games for a 24- yard per game average.

• Despite being outscored, the Tigers have outdistanced their opponents in first downs 69- 60 and plays run 188-163.

• Due to Brinkley’s accuracy, Rockdale possesses six of the top nine receivers in District 23- 3A, led by Skubal’s 20 catches for 339 yards.

• What’s going on in Caldwell? After posting its first win of the season last week over lowly Austin Crockett, the Hornets reverted back to their old selves, falling to Madisonville 51- 0 and had just three yards of total offense (-10 rushing). Caldwell opened the season with a 63-14 loss to Bellville.

If you go to Liberty Hill: Take Highway 79 to Taylor. Take a right on 95 in Taylor and then left on Highway 29 outside of Taylor which will take you through Georgetown and into Liberty Hill. In Liberty Hill, get on Loop 332 where the stadium is on the right.

TIGER SEASON RESULTS (2-1)
Abilene Wylie 35, Rockdale 14
Rockdale 51, Salado 42
Rockdale 11, Cameron 10
at Liberty Hill
Madisonville
at Navasota
Smithville
at LaGrange
Giddings
at Caldwell









THE STARTING LINEUPS

ROCKDALE OFFENSE
No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
8 QB Ethan Brinkley, 6-2, 180 Jr
23 TB Dailynn Ramey, 5-7, 165 Fr
22 FB Marco Hernandez, 5-8, 190 So
15 WR Cody Skubal, 6-3, 175 Sr
7 WR Clayton Gibbs, 6- 0, 170 So
48 TE Patric Trejo, 6-1, 205 Jr
57 LT Pedro Ibares, 6-4, 220 Jr
72 LG Josh Pelzel, 6- 6, 270 So
52 C Ty Kirk, 5-9, 185 Sr
51 RG Steph. Schneider, 6-1, 220 Sr
50 RT Patrick David, 6-1, 230 Sr

LIBERTY HILL DEFENSE
No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
77 RE Jordan Skinner, 6-2, 220 Jr
68 RT Bryce Dallmeyer, 6-1, 265 Sr
68 LT Bryce Dallmeyer, 5-10, 205 Sr
45 LE Brice Bishop, 6-4, 195 Sr
14 LB Kevin Marksbury, 5-10, 180 Sr
51 LB Jonah Pearson, 5-10, 205 Sr
15 LB Bo Simpson, 5-11, 180 Sr
7 CB Gery Denson, 5-10, 180 So
17 CB Jaden Boatright, 5-11, 166 Jr
60 S Justin Webb, 6- 0, 160 Sr
2 S Cody Turner, 5-11, 180 Sr

ROCKDALE DEFENSE
55 DE Gabriel McQuinn, 6-1, 240 Jr
50 DT Patrick David, 6-1, 230 Sr
51 DT Steph. Schneider, 6-1, 220 Sr
59 DE Kolt. Woolvertoon, 6-2, 220 Sr
23 LB Dailynn Ramey, 5-7, 168 Fr
10 LB James David, 6-2, 225 So
34 LB Markus Hayes, 5-9, 208 Jr
20 CB Dillon Goodman, 5-10, 140 Sr
5 CB Zach Garza, 6-1, 175 Sr
7 S Clayton Gibbs, 6- 0, 170 So
15 S Cody Skubal, 6-3, 175 Sr

LIBERTY HILL OFFENSE
32 QB Kyle Hester, 5-10, 175 Sr
5 RB Cory Ferrell, 5-7, 150 So
35 RB John Johnston, 5-11, 180 Sr
2 RB Cody Turner, 5-11, 180 Jr
16 LE Colby Ellis, 6- 0, 160 Jr
34 RE Joseph Dudgeon, 6-1, 220 Jr
70 LT Nat Whitmeyer 5-10, 180 Jr
54 LG Kody Kindle, 6-2,236 Sr
57 C Jeremy DeLay, 6- 0, 234 Sr
55 RG John Spurgeon, 5-11, 270 So
58 RT Tim Prudhomme, 6-2, 225 Jr

ROCKDALE AT LIBERTY HILL

What: Rockdale Tigers (2-1) vs. Liberty Hill Panthers (1-2) Where: Panther Stadium (1,567 capacity). Grass. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Favorite: Liberty Hill by 8. Last week: Rockdale 11, Cameron 10; China Spring 13, Liberty Hill 12. Series record: Liberty Hill leads 3-0. Liberty Hill won 16-7 last year. District outlook: Liberty Hill is picked first in District 25- 3A (Burnet, Lampasas, Llano, Taylor, Salado). Panther to watch: No. 45, Sr. DE Brice Bishop Best place to eat: Dahlia’s, FM 1869 (try the onion rings).


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