Liberty Hill completes district play undefeated against Bandera
BANDERA – It may be expected at Liberty Hill and It may have been forecast before the start of this season.
But a second-straight 5-0 district season is still pretty cool.
The Panthers capped their regular season, including another unblemished district campaign, with a 42-23 win against the Bandera Bulldogs Friday night in the District 14-4A, Division I finale for both teams.
“That’s what we were counting on,” Liberty Hill coach Jerry Vance said. “That was our goal.”
Liberty Hill will meet an undetermined bi-district opponent at a time, date and site to be determined.
The Panthers (8-2, 5-0 District 14-4A Div. I) simply overwhelmed the Bulldogs (4-5, 1-4), who needed to win, and have Taylor beat Fredericksburg in order to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Ducks did their part of the job. The Bulldogs, though, simply couldn’t stop the offensive onslaught of the Panthers.
Liberty Hill rushed for 405 yards – the Panthers didn’t even feel the need to attempt a pass.
Senior halfback Logan Barnes led the Panthers with 153 yards on just 13 carries.
“Well, I think even though we were district champions already, that we wanted to execute so that we would have momentum going into the playoffs,” Barnes said. “We want to get a good start in the playoffs and make a good run.”
Jon Shannon, who played only the second half, added 53 yards and a score and Caleb Guerin added 46 yards.
It seemed surprisingly easy, at times, for the Panthers, particularly in the first half. Liberty Hill jumped out to a 14-0 leading, getting a 6-yard run from Hunter Lindsay and a 10-yard run from senior quarterback Nick Hernandez with just 43 seconds in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, it went to 21-0. Senior Gabe Shoemaker, starting for Shannon, scored on a 1-yard run with 8:49 in the second quarter. Bandera cut the lead at half to 21-7 with a 5-yard toss from quarterback Joe Rodriguez to Averie Mansfield.
Caleb Guerin added to the Panthers margin, scoring on a 21-yard run with 4:18 in the third quarter and it was 28-7.
“We’ve got great kids here, they battled really hard,” Bandera coach David Sines said. “They got a great program and they do a great job. … Their kids, their coaching staff, they’ve been running the Slot-T and they run it over and over. They’re very good at it.”
The Bulldogs didn’t throw a score into the Panthers, but they caused some concern with 16 fourth-quarter points. Two long pass plays keyed the long-shot comeback attempt and the Bulldogs did finish with 275 yards passing, throwing everything they could think of at the Panthers defense.
Some of it worked. It just wasn’t enough.
“Our kids stayed focused,” Vance said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused when you’ve already won the district title and you’re a game away. Our kids did a good job of staying focused.”