Patriots humble Highlanders, 65-0
October 15, 2008
By Jim Feehan
The Liberty High School Patriots scored early and often in their rout of Hazen High School, 65-0. Sophomore Marcel Bell returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown as
the ninth-ranked Patriots cruised to an easy nonconference win against the Highlanders Oct. 10.
“I honestly like blocking on kickoff returns, because I’m the up back and I get to go full speed,” Bell said. “But returning kicks is also good, and getting to score a touchdown on the first play.”
Senior running back Greg Ericksen turned in another stellar performance, scoring on two touchdown runs, and senior wide receiver Richard Crespo caught two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Trey Wheeler. In all, 11 players took turns carrying the ball for Liberty, as Coach Steve Valach substituted freely in the fourth quarter.
“We came out and played our ball game, played Patriot ball,” Bell said. “Coach told us not to look down on them and play our level of ball — do what we do and execute.”
Conversely, Hazen fumbled two kickoff returns in the first half and Highlander sophomore quarterback Travis Johnson threw two interceptions. Senior free safety Taylor Hamman and senior linebacker Malcolm Dike picked off the errant passes.
The Patriots held Johnson and Hazen’s leading rusher, junior James Holland, in check. Liberty’s defense held Hazen to 111 total yards.
“We were reading linemen and trying to shut down whatever they had,” said Liberty junior middle linebacker Cameron Talley, who had three solo tackles and four assists.
Many of the players on both teams were former teammates in the 5-Star Youth Football Program, and Talley’s cousin, sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Isaiah Fullerton-Talley, plays for the Highlanders.
“It’s the first time I’ve played against one of my family members,” Talley said of playing against his cousin. “It’s good. I gave him some love after the game.”
Eight different Liberty players scored in the game. Senior kicker Keegan Bennett’s 19-yard field goal put Liberty up 10-0 with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter. A 31-yard run by senior running back Joseph Yea set up Ericksen’s 24-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
Seven seconds into the second quarter, Wheeler connected with Crespo on a 50-yard touchdown score. Yea scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:25 remaining in the first half as Liberty led at halftime, 30-0.
Liberty added 21 more points in the third quarter. Following a Hazen fumble, Ericksen scored on a 1-yard run with 9:44 remaining in the third. Sophomore running back Chandler Jenkins ran 13 yards for a touchdown to make it 44-0 with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter. Wheeler tossed a 9-yard touchdown strike to Crespo to make it 51-0 at the close of the third quarter.
In the fourth, sophomores Devin Bennett and Jay Chakravarty scored on touchdown runs of 29 yards and 46 yards, respectively.
Liberty improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in KingCo 3A league play. Hazen fell to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in Seamount league play.
“I don’t have any satisfaction that it’s 65-0,” Valach said following the game. “Offensively, the longer we played, the better we got.”
Liberty next plays Interlake (4-2 overall, 2-2 in KingCo 3A league play) at home Oct. 17.
“Interlake has a really good passing game,” Valach said. “They have one of the top backs in the league, so we’re going to have our hands full.”
Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or firstname.lastname@example.org.