Patriots get powerhouse O’Dea Irish in opening round
November 10, 2009
By Bob Taylor
In terms of tradition, few high school football programs in the state can match O’Dea, of Seattle. The Irish have ruled the Metro League for several years, and are a perennial top 10 team in the state.But the Liberty Patriots, 9-1 on the season, have no plans to bow down to the Irish, also 9-1, in a Class 3A first-round contest Nov. 13. Liberty and O’Dea meet at 7 p.m. in Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
“O’Dea definitely has a lot of tradition. They have won a lot of games, been in the state playoffs a lot of times. We know what we’re getting into,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “But our guys have been in a lot of big games the past two years. They will not be intimidated by the circumstances. We will be ready to play them, that’s for sure.”
Liberty, for the second straight year, earned a berth in the 3A state tournament when the Patriots rallied for a 32-22 victory against Camas Nov. 7 in a preliminary game at Camas’ Doc Harris Stadium.
The Patriots overcame a variety of first-half problems to win the game. Liberty had three turnovers and had two touchdowns called back because of penalties. As a result, the Patriots trailed 15-10 at halftime.
“Camas is a good football team but I felt we didn’t play our best in the first half. I felt we could still win this game if things started going our way,” Valach said.
In the second half, things went the Patriots’ way. Liberty didn’t commit a turnover. Liberty’s running game got a big lift from Tei Staladi, who had been sidelined the previous two weeks because of a shoulder injury. Staladi scored two second-half touchdowns on runs of 33 and 39 yards.
“He did an awesome job for us,” Valach said of Staladi, who finished the contest with 80 yards on just three carries.
“Camas was really focusing on stopping Chandler Jenkins, so it gave a chance to let Tei go on the sweep,” Valach said.
Jenkins finished the game with 81 yards on 19 carries, and scored a touchdown.
The running game helped the Patriots overcome a 22-17 third-quarter deficit. The Patriots finished with 203 rushing yards. Liberty also passed the ball with quarterback Trey Wheeler hitting eight of 15 passes for 120 yards.
Liberty’s defense shut down the Papermakers’ running game, holding Camas to 33 yards. However, Camas did have success through the air with quarterback Logan Grindy throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.