Patriots eye rekindled tradition

September 3, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Marquel Ellis (right), Liberty High School sophomore linebacker and running back, listens to coach Steve Valach set up a play. By Greg Farrar

Marquel Ellis (right), Liberty High School sophomore linebacker and running back, listens to coach Steve Valach set up a play. By Greg Farrar

No one was unluckier than the Liberty High School football team last year. An already thin-in-numbers squad was hit with injury after injury in 2012.

As the injuries piled up, so too did the losses in a tough KingCo 3A/2A Conference, on the way to a 3-7 record.

Luckily, things are already looking up for the Patriots as they prepare for the 2013 campaign with a much larger turnout than last year, which should help with depth, longtime Liberty coach Steve Valach said.

“We have about 25 more kids than last year,” he said.

The theme of the Patriots’ offseason was “Football is back,” focusing on the idea that Liberty wants to get back to its winning roots.

“We’ve got a great tradition here that goes back to long before I was here and we just want to reclaim that,” Valach said.

The Patriots haven’t been to the playoffs since the Liberty seniors were freshman, said returning cornerback Colin Larson, and all of the players are itching to get back.

The road to the post-season began with summer workouts, which looked a bit different this year led by a personal trainer, Larson said.

“He brought out the best in all of us and made us all work our hardest, which was, I think, something that helped characterize our team for this coming season,” he said.

Fight is the Patriots 2013 theme, characterized by an effort to persevere on the gridiron, in the classroom and in life in general, said Kasper Lui Delange, a Patriot receiver and defensive back.

“It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “Stuff is going to go wrong and stuff is going to go right, it doesn’t matter, but you’re going to fight no matter what.”

Liberty’s strength will be in its skill positions, Valach said, led by running back Russell Boston, who burst onto the scene as a sophomore for the Patriots last year.

The soft-spoken junior is one of three returning Patriots who earned all-league honorable mention last season. He was also named a captain this year.

“Russell Boston is a really fine athlete, but he’s an even better young man,” Valach said.

Just two practices into the season, the Patriots’ quarterback situation was not yet settled, Valach said, but the stability at the center position, with returning lineman Nate Jarvis, should help ease the transition.

Jarvis, a junior, and senior Sam Dodt, a running back and safety, both received all-league honorable mention honors last season and will look to continue that success into 2013.

“What’s great is that we have a lot of guys that have a lot of varsity experience, and they’re still young,” Valach said.

Several Liberty athletes that excel at other sports will look to make a name for themselves on the gridiron this season.

Lorin Archibald, who stars on the baseball diamond for the Patriots, will play tight end and defensive end this year.

“Last year was his first year playing football and it’s starting to click with him,” Valach said of Archibald.

Quinn Magendanz, a Liberty soccer standout, and Romney Noel, a wrestling and track star returning from injury, are also expected to contribute this year, Valach said.

With the school in the midst of a major construction overhaul, the Patriots had to do without a locker room as practices began, but it didn’t affect the team, Valach said. They’re just preparing for the season as usual.

patriots’ schedule

All games are at 7 p.m.

  • Sept. 6 vs. Eastside Catholic
  • Sept. 13 at Hazen
  • Sept. 20 at Interlake
  • Sept. 27 vs. Juanita
  • Oct. 4 vs. Lake

Washington

  • Oct. 11 at Sammamish
  • Oct. 18 at Mercer Island
  • Oct. 25 vs. Bellevue
  • Nov. 1 at Mount Si
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