Liberty Patriots edge rival Hazen Highlanders, 25-22

September 11, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Tynan Gilmore, Liberty High School senior receiver, powers through a group of Hazen defenders during Liberty’s 25-22 win over Hazen on Sept. 7. Gilmore had three touchdowns, one rushing and two receiving, in the victory. By Scott Coburn

A week after the Liberty High School football team struggled with turnovers in a loss to Eastside Catholic, the Patriots turned out a positive turnover ratio in a 25-22 win over Hazen.

The Patriots focused on taking care of the ball in the week leading up to the game and the squad did just that, allowing only one interception and recovering three Hazen fumbles.

“The coaches just really emphasize that if we win the turnover ratio, we’re going to end up winning the game and it really showed tonight,” said Tynan Gilmore, a safety and wide receiver for the Patriots.

Gilmore, a senior, had a huge game for Liberty, scoring three touchdowns and leading the defense with seven solo tackles. Gilmore rushed for a 29-yard touchdown for his first score and went on to catch two touchdown passes from quarterback Robbie Thomas.

“It was a lot of fun,” Gilmore said. “I think we just battled the whole night and we just never gave up.”

Liberty coach Steve Valach said he was impressed with Gilmore’s play on both sides of the ball.

“He’s such a dynamic player,” Valach said. “He’s a smart football player. He’s one of those guys that you don’t really know how fast he is, but he just makes people miss. He caught the ball well and he had some great tackles.”

It was a tight game between the two Renton rivals. Going into halftime the Patriots led 13-7. After the third quarter Liberty appeared to be cruising, leading Hazen 25-7, but the Highlanders fought back in the fourth quarter and put up 15 points.

“I’m proud of our guys, they battled,” Valach said of his team’s performance. “Hazen is a good football team, and we knew that after watching film. They’re a big, tough, physical team and they move the ball really well.”

As the game came to a close, chants of “We own Renton” could be heard echoing from the stands of the Liberty student section.

Gilmore said it felt good to beat the Highlanders.

“It was big,” he said. “They are a lot better this year. It wasn’t going to be an easy game and it showed out there.”

After going 1-1 in nonconference play, Valach said he’s happy with where the team is heading into KingCo Conference games.

“We’re 1-1 and Eastside Catholic was a good football team,” he said. “From what I saw, their team is going to make a playoff run. Hazen is obviously a good team, too, so to be 1-1, I think it’s good. I think we got a lot better between week one and week two on the things that we emphasize.”

Up next, Liberty opens 3A/2A KingCo play at home at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 against Interlake.

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