Liberty Patriots ready to take on 2A
September 2, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
After 16 years at the helm, Liberty High School football coach Steve Valach has seen his fair share of senior classes.
This year’s, though, the class that will graduate in 2015, is in the running for the best he has ever coached.
“I think we were 3-7 in their sophomore year, so they’ve seen some lean times and still kept competing,” Valach said. “There’s some talent, and then it’s bigger than ability, it’s who they are as guys.”
A group led by all-league safety and running back Russell Boston will help usher in a new era of Liberty athletics, as the school makes the jump from 3A to 2A.
“It doesn’t change the way we prepare at all,” Boston, a senior, said in the spring. “We’re just going to come out and play football like we know how.”
Liberty’s regular season schedule doesn’t change. The school is still part of the KingCo 3A/2A Conference, meaning the Patriots will continue to face the likes of Bellevue and Juanita. The nonconference schedule now includes a season-opening game against Lakewood, a 2A team, though.
2014 Patriots schedule
Liberty will still host their Renton Highlands rivals, Hazen, during the season’s second week. The schedule also includes Mount Si in what will be a nonconference game, as the Wildcats make the jump to 4A.
The Patriots made their first appearance in the 2A Associated Press preseason rankings, with voters slotting them at No. 10 in the state.
Seniors Nate Jarvis, Mitch McQuigg and Alec Waters will anchor a line that should be one of the Patriots’ strengths this year. Jarvis was an all-league center and McQuigg an all-league guard last year. Noah Pritchett, a rare freshman that started on the line in 2013, also returns, but experienced some nagging injuries through the offseason, Valach said.
“We should be better than ever because we all have experience,” Jarvis said. “We’re all veterans now, and we’ll be smarter and play better.”
Valach said he’s also happy with his skill positions, where senior Drew Hall returns at running back. Hall was also a first-team all-league linebacker last year. Starting quarterback Nate Solly is back for his junior campaign.
The Liberty coach said he also expects good production from linebacker Romney Noel and lineman Quinn Magendanz, two seniors that battled injury bugs through their careers.
The Patriots came up with “Drive” as this year’s word, or motto, at a summer team camp.
“I like it because it encompasses both a physical and mental mindset,” Jarvis said. “It’s about pushing, driving to the end and finishing.”
The Patriots’ 2014 season begins Sept. 5 at Lakewood.
“Realistically, is it a goal that they play in the Tacoma Dome? I think so. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic goal,” Valach said of his team. “But I think they understand the importance of today, and it’s putting a bunch of todays together to get where you want to be.”