Many football players were recognized for their contributions as part of a successful and exceptional season for the Liberty Hill Panthers, headlined by a couple of MVPs.
If there was one offensive player who clearly stood out as an MVP for the Liberty Hill Panther varsity football team this year, it was senior tailback Jonathan Johnston. Last week the voters for the 25-3A district honors recognized his stellar season by naming “Johnny” Johnston the Co-Offensive MVP for 2011.
Johnston, who shares the honor with Lampasas running back Secody Howard, garnered a total of 1,701 yards rushing for the season on 176 carries. He nearly averaged a first down each run at 9.7 yards per carry. The senior scored 14 rushing TDs and caught 4 passes for 100 yards and a TD.
“We’ve been very fortunate that our offensive line has done a great job of being able to successfully run the ball and the coaches finding the right people who will make that kind of contribution,” said Liberty Hill Head Coach Jerry Vance. “Johnny has done that for two years and has really matured as a leader on the offense. He is one of those kids that whenever you needed some yardage he did whatever he could to get what you need. We were very happy with that.”
Lampasas’ Howard ended the regular season 1,189 yards on 179 carries and 14 touchdowns for the Badgers.
More hardware was earned due to the Panthers’ stout defense.
Liberty Hill’s “Purple Thunder” defense finished the season ranked first in total defense and was led by senior strong safety Cody Turner who was named the 2011 25-3A Defensive MVP.
“(The defensive ranking) obviously goes a long way with Cody being able to direct things out there on the field that Coach (Jimmy) Duncan and the staff had put together,” Vance said. “In our scheme, Cody is the quarterback for the defense. We expected him to make the adjustments in the secondary. So he is a big run supporter and a big pass defender also. He did a great job with our defense.”
Turner finished his senior season with 42 solo tackles, 26 tackle assists, four interceptions, two recovered fumbles, one caused fumble, one tackle for a loss
He did not win the defensive award by scoring touchdowns, but he did that too.
The senior turned out 136 yards on the ground for a touchdown and also caught two passes for 54 yards, including a 35-yarder he took to the house in the 35-14 playoff win over Navarro. He also scored on an 84-yard kickoff return against Mexia as part of a 43-13 win in late September and nearly took an interception the other way against Burnet.
“He is a very talented kid and we were counting on him to contribute (in other areas) and obviously he did on special teams and in the running game,” Vance explained. “When you have a young man who is that talented then you are going to use him as much as you possibly can.”
While Turner displayed his all-around abilities this season, another Panther showed his versatility as well.
Junior Jadon Boatright made plays in all facets and was recognized by being selected to the 25-3A All-District First-Team Defense, Special Teams and was awarded with Second-Team All-District Kicker honors.
On defense, Boatright was second on the team in interceptions with two and made 22 solo tackles while adding 10 assists, two tackles for a loss and six pass breakups.
As the place kicker, Boatright, who will also play basketball this year, successfully converted 39 point after touchdown kicks and nailed three field goals. A duty he happened upon in the offseason.
“We didn’t have a kicker coming into the season and he could do it,” Vance said. “He did a good job kicking. He fulfilled the duties exactly the way we wanted.”
The utility man also totaled over 300 yards in kickoff returns and took two all the way for touchdowns, including an 82-yarder against Rockdale and a 72-yard run against rival Burnet. He also caught a 19-yard TD against the Bulldogs.
Vance spoke about the athleticism of the two-sport star.
“He is an extremely talented young man who is also playing basketball,” he said. “We are tickled that he is doing that. We always want our kids to do as much as they possibly can to contribute to Liberty Hill. He is one of the more quicker and athletic kids we’ve had in a long time. He works hard and does what we ask him to do.”
Other Liberty Hill players who earned 25-3A All-District First-Team Offense honors included senior running back Bo Simpson (109 carries, 665 yards, seven TDs); junior center Jeremy DeLay, senior offensive lineman Tim Prudhomme and junior offensive lineman Kody Kindle.
Liberty Hill First-Team Defense players included senior defensive end Brice Bishop (22 solo tackles, 28 assists, seven sacks, 10 tackles for a loss one fumble recovery and one forced fumble); senior defensive lineman Bryce Dallmeyer (nine tackles, 12 assists, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and one forced fumble); junior defensive lineman Zack Perez (13 solo tackles, 25 assists, four sacks, four tackles for a loss and one forced fumble).
Senior Jonah Pearson was also named to the First-Team Defense at linebacker. He was seemingly always around the ball as he led the team with 87 assists while recording 27 solos tackles, one sack, a tackle for a loss, forced a fumble and defended a pass.
This young man looks to have a bright future at any position the coaches choose to use him. Freshman linebacker Brandon Wells also made the First-Team Defense tallying 28 solo tackles, 26 assists, two tackles for a loss and four broken up passes. On offense the freshman threw two touchdowns when rotating in for Kyle Hester at quarterback.