Panthers look to correct mistakes in Homecoming bout with Connally tonight

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Colton Cunningham (#34) brings down a runner in Liberty Hill's Week 3 loss to Brownwood. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Colton Cunningham (#34) brings down a runner in Liberty Hill’s Week 3 loss to Brownwood. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By LAUREN JETTE

Coming off a loss at Brownwood last week, the Liberty Hill Panthers are looking to even out the season with a second win over Waco Connally at Panther Stadium Friday night.

“Connally is really, really athletic,” head coach Jerry Vance said. “They’ve got three or four kids that can just simply fly.”

Vance described the Cadets as “big, square bodies…like blocks.” With a new coach at the helm, Connally will have a different look from seasons past.

“They have a new coach and a new scheme of things,” Vance said. “(They) put up 47 points in the second half against Gatesville (last week) and that’s of great concern. They’ve got some very athletic kids and anytime you play those kind of kids, you’ve got to really be on your toes and ready to do well.”

Connally is fresh off a 56-33 win over Gatesville last week, where the Cadets exploded for 47 points in the second half after managing just 9 points in the first quarter. The two losses for the Cadets were at Cameron Yoe in their first game, 63-14 and against China Spring in their second game, 58-12. First-year coach Shane Anderson is returning to his alma mater to improve on a 7-5 record from last season. The top two keys for the Panthers to get the win Friday are making tackles and eliminating turnovers.

“First of all, we’ve got to hold on to the ball,” Vance said.

“Just as equally important, we’ve got to make tackles. We passed up some tackles the other night (against Brownwood) that are really bothersome to me, so I think the things we have to do and do well Friday night is, first of all, no turnovers, and second of all, tackle better and do a better job on defense and making those tackles and making those stops.”

Fumbles cost the Panthers a win last week, with two happening in the final quarter of the game.

“I don’t think kids fumble intentionally, but they do happen,” Vance said. “Maybe it’s a lack of concentration, where they’re trying to make something happen and they forget what’s going on and somebody sticks a hand in there and pulls the ball out, or it’s a bad pitch or a dropped snap.

“There’s a thousand things, you work on every day to make sure it’s like breathing. We just didn’t do that Friday night and we’re going to get that corrected this Friday night.”

Dropping tackles is also a big concern Vance looks to correct against Connally.

“A lot of us were just pushing people and hoping somebody else would make the tackle and you can’t do that and play defense,” Vance said.

“You’ve got to be the one to make the tackle, if somebody else gets in on it then, that’s fine and dandy, but first of all we’ve got to make sure that we make the tackle.”

This week, Vance expects a different attitude from his team.

“We’ve got something to prove,” Vance said. “That we’re a better football team than what showed up (last) Friday. And I think that’s a big thing that we have to prove, not only to the fans, but to ourselves that we’re a better football team than what showed up (last) Friday.”

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