Jake Bainton’s three scores lead Liberty to 38-0 victory over Ballard

September 8, 2009

By Bob Taylor

A year ago, Liberty High football coaches knew they had a talented young player in Jake Bainton. In fact, Bainton had been penciled in as a starter going into the 2008 season. Unfortunately, he got injured and wasn’t unavailable to the Patriots until the later in the season.But Sept. 4, Bainton demonstrated some of his talents by scoring three touchdowns as the Patriots opened their season at home with a 38-0 nonleague victory against the Ballard Beavers.

Bainton, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior, caught two touchdown passes and dazzled Liberty fans with a long punt return for a touchdown as the Patriots defeated Ballard in the season opener for the second straight year.

“Jake had a pretty good first game,” Liberty head coach Steve Valach said. “He would have started for us last year but he broke his wrist.”

Bainton was back on the field in last season’s playoffs. He helped Liberty overcome Kennedy 21-17 in the first round of the 3A state playoffs and started against eventual state champion Bellevue in the quarterfinals.

With Bainton in the lineup, the Patriots figure again to be among the more explosive offensive teams in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference.

Liberty showed it had plenty of firepower against Ballard.

Quarterback Trey Wheeler, a league-first team selection in 2008, connected for three touchdown passes. Chandler Jenkins scored two touchdowns. Like Bainton, both are juniors.

Liberty also showed off a new kicker in Dean Byron. The latter, a standout on the Patriots’ soccer team in the spring, hit all five extra point attempts and booted a 25-yard field goal. Byron also boomed three kickoffs into the end zone. Former Liberty kicker Drew Dunning, who had a sensational career at Washington State University, has been working with Byron, who had never played football until this season.

“It always helps to have a good kicker. We expect good things from Dean,” Valach said.

Byron gave the Patriots a 3-0 first-quarter lead.

The Patriots, who had some early adversity, broke open the game in the second quarter with three touchdowns.

Jenkins bolted 26 yards for the Patriots’ first touchdown. Then Wheeler connected with Bainton on a 14-yard scoring aerial. Bainton capped the first half scoring when he ran back a punt 52 yards for a touchdown. Bainton not only showed his speed on the return but strength as he ran over Ballard players before breaking into the clear.

In the third quarter, Wheeler hit Jenkins on a 1-yard touchdown pass before connecting again with Bainton on a 4-yard score.

“It was a good start for us. We did some things pretty well. We played decent defense. There were also some things that we need to do better,” Valach said.

The game was a tune up for the Patriots, who meet a stronger opponent in Woodinville Sept. 11 in Bothell’s Pop Keeney Stadium.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com

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