An old fashioned success story
Year-after-year, the Panthers put defenses to sleep with their antiquated slot-T set. The only thing that doesn’t get boring— is the winning.
Since head coach Jerry Vance took over this downtrod- den program where basketball was king 12 years ago, Liberty Hill has gone 109-30, with two state championships in tow.
Liberty Hill has captured 26 playoff wins since 2002. In contrast, Rockdale has 19 playoff wins in its 101-year history.
This is definitely “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” territory.
“It’s the same coaching staff that they have had for the past 12 years and they are very comfortable with the offense,” Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller said. “They start them in the seventh grade. Switching at this point would be detremental to the program.
The Panthers stand 2-1 on the season with their only loss coming at the hands of Giddings in the opener, 32-29.
They are coming off a 49-13 smashing of Smithville Friday after a 61-16 victory over Hondo two weeks ago.
As is their forte, the Panthers rolled up 377 yards on the ground and attempted just three passes. In three games, they are averaging 410 yards on the ground.
This year’s workhorses are junior Cory Ferrell (463 yards, 8 TDS) and sophomore Jesse Perez (422, 4 TDS). Perez ran for 192 yards against Smithville.
They are protected by four returning starters in the offensive line.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Wells has attempted just six passes, completing two for 43 yards.
Despite owning an 0-4 mark against Liberty Hill, the Tigers have had some level of success stopping the cloud of dust and keeping games close.
“We’ve used different schemes in the past, but everybody understands that they have a role that they have to play and do your job,” said Miller.
Rockdale bolted out to a 20-14 halftime lead last season, but a scoreless second half doomed the Tigers to a 27-20 loss.
“We’ve had them on the ropes a couple of times and didn’t put them away,” Miller said. “We’ve got to put four quarters together against them.”
While the Tigers switched to a 3-4 defensive front in the past two contests, they will ditch that lineup in an effort to clog up the middle Friday.
“We’ll remove the cover guys and add linebackers,” said Miller. “We’ll stack the box and force everything inside.”
This is an instance where Rockdale has an advantage on defense with its outstanding corps of linebackers, the strongest unit on the team.
“If our defensive linemen do their job and force them to double team us and we can occupy their linemen to free up our linebackers even more.”
The Tigers must also overcome the disappointment of losing to rival Cameron.
“That’s what we always talk about,” Miller said. “You have to have a short memory, good or bad. You have two choices— mope or dig deep and get after it again.
“That was hard to take the other night, but we have no choice but to move on.”
• Sophomore defensive back Ed Dansby was given the “hit of the week” award by KWTX on its Sports Friday highlight show for his leg leveling hit on Cameron’s Chance Ward.
• Stefan Hinojosa suffered a concussion against Cameron and is out indefinitely. Receiver/ defensive back William Dean and running back Marco Hernandez are still out with broken wrists and lineman Kristian White with a broken ankle. Lineman Josh Pelzel (knee), running back Dailynn Ramey (shoulder) and center Ramsey Zinn (broken fingers) are probable for Friday.
• Ethan Brinkley established a new school record for punts with 11 against the Yoe.
• Brinkley still needs one touchdown pass to surpass Mark Drake’s career mark of 27.
• Senior linebacker Markus Hayes again led the Tigers in tackles with 11. Hayes also leads the team in stops on the season with 36, ahead of James David’s 32.
• With two more interceptions Friday against Cameron, the Tigers now have seven on the year, surpassing last year’s total of five with at least seven games to play. Linebackers Austin Caffey and Markus Hayes— who both had thefts Friday— lead the Tigers with two each.
• With LaMarque’s loss to No. 6 Coldspring Friday, Navasota is now the No. 1 team in the state in Class 3A after its 49-6 victory over Houston Sterling.
liberty hill at rockdale
What: Rockdale Tigers (2-1) vs.
Liberty Hill Panthers (2-1)
Where: Tigerland Stadium
(2,850 capacity). Grass.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Favorite: Liberty Hill by 20.
Last week: Cameron 34, Rockdale 0; Liberty Hill 49, Smithville
Series record: Liberty Hill leads
4-0. Liberty Hill won 27-20 last
District outlook: Liberty Hill
is picked first in District 8-3A
(Brownwood, Lampasas, Llano,
Panther to watch: No. 5, Jr. RB
the starting lineups
Rockdale vs. Liberty Hill Liberty Hill leads 4-0