McCallum up next for Panthers
By Scott Akanewich
In the first two district games of the season, Liberty Hill has scored 125 points without allowing a single marker to the opposition in back-to-back shutouts of Crockett (62-0) and Travis (63-0).
However, next up for the Panthers is a matchup at House Park in Austin against a McCallum team that is coming off a 20-13 away victory over Marble Falls in its district opener and Liberty Hill head coach Kent Walker believes his squad will finally be tested, he said.
“McCallum’s a good football team with kids who play extremely hard and have a coach who does a good job,” said Walker, of the Knights, who are 3-2 overall and 1-0 in district. “They have a three-year starter at quarterback who’s a dual threat and quite a few running backs they can rotate in and out of the game. Defensively, they have a very good inside linebacker and safety. Overall, just a good team who has continued to get better as the season has progressed.”
Indeed, McCallum began its season with a narrow 14-13 win over Anderson, but then suffered consecutive losses against Lehman (38-24) and Connally (24-17) before rebounding with a 23-15 win against Tivy in the week leading up to its conquest of the Mustangs, so Walker is justified in his wariness of this week’s opponent.
But, the Panthers have also cleaned up their collective act since the 41-34 home defeat to LBJ three weeks ago and the pair of blowouts has allowed Walker to sub his starters for much of the second half of both contests in getting them rest while giving backup and junior varsity players an opportunity to see valuable playing time.
“We definitely got something out of those games,” he said. “We’ve been able to heal up the past two games, which is a good thing.”
At this point in the campaign, Walker said it’s critical to recognize when players are banged up and handle each situation accordingly.
“You can do one of two things,” he said. “You can be smart and know when to hold certain guys back or you can be stubborn and just say ‘Well, this is how we go about it no matter what.’ You have to take care of your players. Some kids will tell you about an injury and some won’t.”
Saturday morning’s weekly film session always reveals to Walker and his coaching staff what can still be improved upon even in the midst of lopsided results like the past two weeks – for example, Travis connecting on a pair of long passes early in the contest – the result of some secondary shortcomings, he said.
“On those plays, our defensive backs’ eyes were too much in the backfield,” said Walker. “Film study always shows up the little things we still need to get better at.”
Noah Long leads Liberty Hill with 715 yards on 96 carries and 10 touchdowns on the season, while fullback Logan Dyer has run 52 times for 373 yards and three scores and senior Grady Flinn has 235 yards on 23 attempts and a touchdown.
Senior linebacker Andon Thomas leads the Panthers’ defense with 79 tackles, while senior Reid Bynum has racked up 48 and senior Aaron Brewer has 41 stops.
Walker is looking forward to the opportunity for his team to be challenged once again.
“We just want to go out there and execute what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “So, it should be a good one.”