Panthers’ playoff hopes still alive

By Joseph Garcia

Will they or won’t they?

That is the question on the minds of the Panther nation with two regular-season games remaining on the Liberty Hill football schedule.

After suffering its second loss in district play last Friday, Liberty Hill will now fight for the third and final playoff spot in District 8-3A with Burnet and Llano.

Right now all three schools are in a three-way tie for the third playoff spot. Liberty Hill has a better overall record at 5-3, but the Panthers along with Llano and Burnet share a 1-2 district record. The three trail Gatesville (3-0, 8-0) and Brownwood (3-0, 5-3). The Hornets and the Lions will play this Friday for what likely mounts to be the 8-3A championship game.

Even with Liberty Hill’s 44-36 loss to Burnet, the Panthers are still alive in the playoff hunt.

Lampasas (0-3, 2-6) is mathematically eliminated and Llano’s chances are slim, but Liberty Hill would appreciate some help from the Yellowjackets when they take on the Bulldogs this week.

The Panthers must beat Lampasas this Friday and will need the home crowd and all the ghosts of Panther Stadium in the final game there to get a win over undefeated Gatesville a week later.

Even if Liberty Hill somehow loses to Lampasas, if Llano can defeat Burnet this week, the Panthers are still alive for the postseason. If Liberty Hill beats Gatesville and Llano loses at Brownwood, then Liberty Hill can afford a loss to the Badgers.

But, the key is for Liberty Hill is the Llano vs. Burnet game. The Panthers will hope for a tie with Llano for the last playoff spot, giving Liberty Hill the tiebreaker via its 55-28 over Llano back in Week 6.

“It would be nice if old Llano helped us out against Burnet,” said Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance. “But we have to win our games and take care of business this week.”

If Liberty Hill has an ideal Friday with Llano beating Burnet and the Panthers taking care of Lampasas, the final week of the season will determine who snags the final playoff position. But if the Yellowjackets win and the Panthers lose, then Llano will head to the playoffs.

With all that said if Burnet takes out Llano this week, then Liberty Hill would need major help in the form of Lampasas beating Burnet in the final game of the regular season, while slaying the Gatesville Hornets at Panther Stadium.

Either way it plays out, Liberty Hill needs to take care of things from its end. Coach Vance said the team has a calm demeanor and workman-like attitude right now and is focused on the task at hand – beating Lampasas.

“We have to go out and play, (be focused) and not make any big mistakes for us to have a chance at the playoffs,” Vance said. “We will just let it all fall out the way it’s supposed to fall.”