Liberty Hill has come a long way

New 5,000-seat stadium makes up for past homeless season

Liberty Hill had Matrix turf—the same surface that’s in Cowboy Stadium—installed on its new athletic fields. Above, construction CEO Reed Seaton shows off the turf at the new Panther Stadium. 
Liberty Hill Independent/Kathy Canady Liberty Hill had Matrix turf—the same surface that’s in Cowboy Stadium—installed on its new athletic fields. Above, construction CEO Reed Seaton shows off the turf at the new Panther Stadium. Liberty Hill Independent/Kathy Canady When Liberty Hill revived its dormant football program in 1977, the Panthers didn’t even have a stadium to play in. They played all 10 games on the road.

The good people of Liberty Hill have more than made up for that homeless season by constructing a 5,000-seat stadium/sports complex that is part of a $86 million bond package that includes a new school.

Tiger fans will get an up close and personal glimpse of the Panthers’ new digs when the Tigers travel to Liberty Hill Friday night as part of homecoming festivities.

The complex includes an eightlane track, two practice fields, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, field houses, weight rooms and concession stands.

The 96-acre site stands off Highway 29, just down the road from the old “new” school and football field where seating was at a premium.

The community went five years without a high school in the early 1970s and when they were re-accredited, football coach Charlie Braun and some local citizens built up the 1,500-seat football stadium in their free time, constructing a press box and adding wooden bleachers as hey went.

Once considered a basketball school, that all changed with the arrival of Jerry Vance in 1999 and Liberty Hill has become one of the most consistent football programs in the state, capturing back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007, thus creating a frenzy for seating at their crowded stadium.

Part of the reason for the massive expansion is that Liberty Hill administrators are anticipating a move up to Class 4A at the next UIL realignment.

They’ll be more than ready.

Game time

Unfortunately, the Panthers were bested in their debut at their new surroundings, falling to Giddings 21-20.

Liberty Hill has rebounded to win two straight, 20- 6 over Hondo and 54-12 over Smithville last week.

A member of District 8-3A, considered the toughest in Class 3A, the Panthers are coming off a rare season in which they did not reach the playoffs after a 6-4 mark.

Liberty Hill stills lives and dies by the Wing-T and is led by fullback Nick Barrios who has rambled for 368 yards.

The Panthers feature four running backs with over 100 yards each as they average 317 yards on the ground a game.

New quarterback Tyler Vickers has completed 4-of-8 passes for 68 yards on the season and has been picked off twice. All but one of the passes came against Smithville last week.


• Ladontice Coates’ 89-yard return for a touchdown off the opening kickoff was impressive, but is way down the list of the longest in school history. Tony Brooks holds the record with a 97-yarder against Caldwell in 1984. Here’s a look at the list:

Longest kickoff returns 97 Tony Brooks vs. Caldwell 1984 92 Dailynn Ramey vs. Navasota 2011 91 Jamal Williams vs. Troy 2002 91 Will Ray vs. Copperas Cove 1971 90 Br yan Washington vs. Cald. 2001 90 P.J. Williams vs. Robinson 1994 90 Don Wesley vs. Caldwell 1977 89 Ladontice Coates vs. Cam. 2013 86 Kim Locklin vs. Madisonville 1979

• Tyler Prazak registered three sacks against Cameron which would fall behind Austin January on the all-time list. January— a first-team all-state selection— rang up seven against Manor in 2005. Prazak has a team-high five on the season.

• Preston Ehler led the Tigers in tackles against Cameron with 12, followed by Prazak and Austin Caffey with eight each. Somari Wright led Cameron with 12. Ehler also leads the Tigers on the season with 24 stops.

• The Tigers played without starting right tackle Dedrick Page who was on crutches with a broken foot. Page will be out at least three more weeks. Jakob Moreland, who also starts on defense, started in his place. Others who are injured but expected to play include: Pete Heintze (high ankle sprain), Elijah Brooks (turf toe), Dailynn Ramey (shoulder), Kristian White, (ankle), Ramsey Zinn (knee), Darius Ford (ankle) and Javier Mayberry (concussion).

• Despite the audacity of Navasota’s 83- 0 thrashing of Houston Sterling, Rattler coach Lee Fedora did show some mercy as his team led 83-0 by the end of the third quarter.

• Navasota (3-0) was the only District 18-3A to chalk up a win Friday as all the remaining league teams have identical records of 1-2. All five league teams play on the road this week.

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