Liberty High School tackle back in line

November 11, 2010

By Mason Kelley

NEW — 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 2010

Anthony Olobia is all smiles after returning for Liberty this season from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season early in his first game last year.

Anthony Olobia called it one of the most devastating things he could have endured.

About 12 plays into Liberty’s 2009 season, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound lineman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

“Football was a huge part of my life,” the two-way starter said. “When I finally realized that I’m not invincible and I can be injured, it just made me realize, you know what, I need to work hard. It just made me a bigger man when it happened.”

As he watched his teammates upset their way to the Class 3A state title game, Olobia told himself he would do whatever was necessary to return for his junior season.

“I got into the mindset where I was like, you know what, I have to bust my butt,” Olobia said. “I have to do what I’ve got to do to make sure that this team can be as great as last year, if not greater. That’s the one thing in the world I want. I just want the best for my team.”

As the starter at left tackle, Olobia is a key piece to a Liberty team working to repeat last season’s success. But there have been struggles, small scares when he’s felt pain in the knee.

But with each game, his confidence grows. He has also worked his way into the regular rotation on the defensive line and made his presence felt during a preliminary round playoff win over Kennedy Catholic last week, pulling down Lancers quarterback Jason Thompson with one arm for a second-half sack.

“He gets off the football,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “Offensive line-wise, holy cow. And he’s super athletic. He not only gets off the football, he’s running down field, he’s finishing blocks and he plays with an edge. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.

“It’s been really nice to have him back.”

Rush hour in Marysville

Marysville-Pilchuck coach Brandon Carson doesn’t care which way it gets done. But he’s pleased that his Tomahawks are running as effectively as anyone in the state.

“That’s part of it, too, controlling the clock,” Carson said. “It’s kind of amazing when you hang onto the ball, good things happen.”

Great things, in fact. The Tomahawks (7-3) have rushed for more than 400 yards in three consecutive games heading into Saturday’s first-round 4A playoff game at Issaquah (8-2).

Two weeks ago, the Tomahawks had four runners go over 100 yards. Last week against Bethel, Tyler Thompson went for more than 300 by himself.

“I think we’ve had five different kids rush for 100 yards this year,” Carson said. “It’s a testament to the depth of our kids. And our offensive line, you have to give them props. One of their strengths is their intelligence.”

Carson said Marysville-Pilchuck may be facing the best defense it’s seen all year this week in Issaquah.

“They are big and physical up front,” Carson said. “They have a great linebacking corps and are fast in the secondary.”

Issaquah backup QB delivers

It was windy, rain coming down sideways and Issaquah trailed by two touchdowns. Olympia had limited the effectiveness of the Eagles’ ground game, so coach Chris Bennett put the ball in backup quarterback Braden Bouwman’s hands.

He led an 18-play, 80-yard drive to start the Eagles’ rally. They converted three fourth downs on the drive, two big completions thrown by Bouwman. He went on to throw a touchdown pass in overtime of the Eagles’ win.

“He played a whale of a game,” Bennett said. “We don’t really scale things back for him. He just runs our offense and he’s getting better every week with more experience. Saturday he made some fantastic reads in some really tough conditions and threw the ball well.”

Notes

Before this season, Issaquah coach Chris Bennett has to go all the way back to 1999 to find the last time the Eagles played an overtime game. That year, they went 1-1 with a win against Cedarcrest and a loss to Skyline. This year, Issaquah is 2-1 in overtime games — wins against Liberty and Olympia, and a loss to Eastlake.

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