Vikings present different kind of test for the Panthers


By Scott Akanewich

When Liberty Hill visits House Park in the shadow of Austin’s skyline for the second time this month, their opponents will feel as if they’re attempting to scale one of the skyscrapers which provides a backdrop for the venerable venue located downtown.

To properly put into perspective what the Navarro Vikings are up against when they host the Panthers, simply consider this. Navarro has scored 54 points thus far in five district games.

Liberty Hill has already scored more in two separate contests in district victories over Crockett (62-0) and Travis (63-0), in addition to a 62-6 shellacking of Del Valle earlier in the campaign.

When one also considers the fact the Vikings were defeated by Marble Falls – a team the Panthers defeated – by a score of 76-0 last week, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the home team.

As far as the Purple-and-Gold is concerned, it’s coming off a hard-fought 21-14 home win over Marble Falls, which was followed by a bye week.

According to Liberty Hill head coach Kent Walker, he and his players will concentrate on what they can control.

“We’re going to remain focused on us,” said Walker. “We have to tackle better and do all the little things and that starts in practice.”

With no game last Friday, Panthers players had a rare Saturday off, then returned to work as usual on Monday morning in anticipation of their matchup this week against Navarro.

Against the Mustangs last time out, sophomore running back Noah Long did damage in the air as well as his usual ground assault by catching two passes for 44 yards – including an eight-yard scoring pass from Reese Vickers – along with 11 carries for 132 yards and a 74-yard touchdown run.

Liberty Hill completed 3-of-4 passes for 88 yards in the game, including one from former backup quarterback Joe Pitchford in addition to a pair from Vickers on the evening.

Senior linebacker Andon Thomas piled up an astounding 38 tackles in bringing his season haul up to 134, while five other Panthers defenders racked up double-digit stops including Reid Bynum (29), Carlton Schrank (14), Kade McMahan (12), Devin Riley (11) and Aden Burrell (10).

Last season at home, the Panthers pounded Navarro, 84-0, in scoring four touchdowns in each of the first three quarters and nothing suggests the rematch will be any more competitive, which means the visitors will need to find a different way to measure their performance as they wait for the playoffs to roll around.

Without a game last week, Walker was able to drill his troops a bit more than usual on the training ground – which he likes just fine, he said.

“I might be the only person around who actually likes practice,” said Walker. “But, it’s an opportunity to teach and get better.”