Defense passes test against pass-heavy offense
By LAUREN JETTE
The Liberty Hill defense is used to lining up against offensive teammates and defending against the Slot-T style. After two weeks of practice, the Panthers finally went up against unfamiliar faces in a pass offense during a scrimmage against Stephenville on Saturday at Panther Stadium.
“I thought we really played well on defense,” head coach Jerry Vance said.
“We still have a long way to go with communication and some things like that, but by and large, you look at the whole scrimmage all over, you always wonder if your kids are going to be aggressive and hit, and I thought our kids ran into them pretty well.”
The defense batted down some balls, interrupted passes and found holes in the line to get to the quarterback for sacks.
“It was good,” said defensive end Carter Ware.
“It was different than playing a Slot-T, which hardly ever passes, but it was good. It’s giving us experience. Some of those young guys haven’t played a lot, especially in the defensive backfield, so it helped them out a little bit, made them play a little quicker. They’re getting the experience they need to get. It made our d-line work. It was fun.”
During the scrimmage, talk was exchanged between the teams, causing coaches from both sides to get players back into the huddle.
Ware said the defensive line was excited to get on the field and show the level of intensity they expect this season.
“We’re Liberty Hill, we love getting after people,” Ware said. “That’s what we were told to do and that’s how we play it, we get after them. Sometimes other teams don’t like it, but we love it. You get in our face, we’ll get right back in your face.”
Practicing that intensity every play brings the line together, Ware added.
“(That intensity) makes us come closer together. (It) makes us fight a little harder, play a little harder, faster, stronger, makes us move the ball a little quicker. Makes us want it more. The more you talk, the more we want to hit you in the mouth.”
Overall, Vance was happy with the level of intensity he saw from his team Saturday.
“I was really pleased with that,” Vance said. “In football, sometimes you have to bow up and stand your ground. I thought our kids did a good job of standing their ground, standing up for the team and their teammates. When somebody tries to push you around or bully you, then sometimes you have to stand up and be just as aggressive back.”
Getting experience was also a huge gain for the defensive line and the team as a whole.
“You get to a point in practice and two-a-days where you just get tired of running into each other and hitting each other,” Vance said. “It’s good to play somebody else with a long history of success. Stephenville was a good test for us, especially for the first scrimmage.”
Vance also said he saw confidence in his players.
“I think the biggest progress that I’ve seen is the confidence of our players that did not play much last year has grown during the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“They have an air of confidence about them, they have an air of being sure where they are going. You cannot be confused, you cannot be unsure of yourself in football, because you’re going to get hurt. You need to go somewhere, and the more times you go the right place, the better we’re going to be,” Vance said.
“I think our kids are gaining some more confidence.”