Liberty Hill proves it’s human
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.
“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.”
• 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
THE STARTING LINEUPS
|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|
|77||RE||Jordan||Skinner, 6-2, 220||Jr|
|68||RT||Bryce||Dallmeyer, 6-1,||265 Sr|
|68||LT||Bryce||Dallmeyer, 5-10,||205 Sr|
|14||LB||Kevin||Marksbury, 5-10,||180 Sr|
|51||LB||Jonah||Pearson, 5-10,||205 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|
|5||RB||Cory||Ferrell, 5-7, 150||So|
|2||RB||Cody Turner, 5-11,||180||Jr|
|16||LE||Colby Ellis, 6- 0, 160||Jr|
|34||RE||Joseph Dudgeon, 6-||1,||220 Jr|
|57||C||Jeremy DeLay, 6- 0,||234||Sr|
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).