Freshman Panthers stepping up
By Lauren Jette
While all eyes will be on the varsity football team this week as the Panthers look to close out the season with an undefeated district record, the future Friday night Panthers will try to close their season out with a win as the freshman team takes on Blanco’s junior varsity Thursday night.
With six wins, a loss and a tie, the freshman team has put together an impressive season after jumping up from the junior high level, said coach Carlos Garza.
“It’s been a pretty great season so far. The kids have come along since the beginning of the year, since two-a-days,” Garza said.
“They’ve worked really hard and gotten better over the season. We’re looking to finish strong, playing Blanco’s JV, I think it’s going to be a good test for us to finish off the season, to see if they’re ready for that next step going into next year.”
Liberty Hill started the season with a 34-0 blanking of La Grange and followed with an 8-8 tie against Brenham. The Panthers came up with a 42-6 win over Waco Connally and 21-7 win over Hyde Park before losing to Canyon Lake 20-19.
The next three games were a 35-8 win over Taylor, a 34-14 win over Boerne and the game of the season according to Garza, a 21-20 win at Fredericksburg last week.
“Last minute, (the Billies) have the ball and they’re driving and they score and they go for two (points) to win the game,” Garza said. “(The) defense came up big on that and stopped them on the goal line, so defense stepped up well and played them well there at the end. It was really impressive.”
A challenge the team has faced this season was dealing with injuries, but that allowed players to step up and help the team, while showing improvement from last season.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries,” Garza said.
“A fullback went down early, we made a switch at quarterback, a couple of linebackers have stepped up and played pretty well at the linebacker position, at the same time, a lot of kids have stepped up.
“Last year, there were a lot of kids on B team and now they’re starting for us, so it’s pretty impressive to watch them grow in that position knowing that they were on B team last year and now they’re on that level, so it’s pretty fun.”
Garza described this group of players as a “football group” that is fun to be around.
“These kids have been playing this game all their lives, so getting them pumped up has been one of the hardest things, but at the same time, I think they’ve always been ready,” Garza said.
“This group has been fun. There haven’t really been any hard points, it’s been pretty smooth sailing because they’re ready to play each week. This is a football group, this freshman class. They’re a lot of fun, there are a bunch of characters on this team, but at the same time, they’re always ready to play. I know I said it’s hard getting them ready, but they’re ready every week.”
With the final game of the freshman season here, Garza thinks this group is ready for the junior varsity level next year and looks to see that on the field against Blanco’s junior varsity.
“They are good, they run an offense similar to ours, they run the wing-T, we run the slot-T, so it’s pretty similar,” Garza said.
“They like to run the ball, we like to run the ball, so it should be a quick game, but at the same time, playing a JV team like that, it’s going to be a challenge. It will be a good challenge to see if they are ready for that next step next year. We’re telling them right now, y’all are already a JV team for next year. Y’all have played eight games, it’s y’all’s JV season now. Hopefully they are ready to go and we can finish off on a good note.”
However the season ends, the future of Panther football is bright.
“That freshman class is a good class and they are ready to roll,” Garza said.
“They are excited about what they do, they’ve been doing this since Pee Wee and I think they are ready to take that next step and not only get a district championship, but take that step in the playoffs and make a deep run. That’s what I think they look forward to each and every year.”