Football: Liberty where Kent 'found my love for football' after transfer

Carroll County Times

Nathan Kent said he wasn’t nervous coming to Liberty High School.

Although one likely wouldn’t blame him if he was.

After spending the first two years at Westminster, with friends and classmates he had grown up with since childhood, Kent made the decision to leave that familiarity in search of a fresh start.

When consulting with his parents about a transfer, Kent said there was only one school he was keen on.

“It was just Liberty,” he said. “My dad coached here … and this is where I found my love for football.”

Jeff Kent, Nathan’s father, was Liberty’s varsity football coach from 2006-2012 and the predecessor to Larry Luthe.

He led the Lions to a 31-41 record in seven seasons, and the first playoff appearance in program history.

Nathan Kent spent the 2017 season as Westminster's backup quarterback. He replaced starter Christian Etchison in the Class 3A West Region final against Linganore after Etchison went down with an injury.

Kent ran for a third-quarter touchdown in his place, but the Owls came up short in a 16-14 loss.

With Etchison returning for his senior season, Kent got a chance to come to Liberty and help contribute for the Lions — a team that finished 8-3 (5-1 in the county) last season before falling to Walkersville in the opening round of the 2A West playoffs.

“When things played out the way they did last year over there, academically he felt Liberty was a great fit for him,” Lions coach Larry Luthe said. “He could come over here and help our football team.”

And one of the first things Luthe noticed about his new signal caller, he said, was a competitive edge.

Kent, who characterizes himself as a reserved person, said a switch comes on when he steps on the field.

“He’s a perfectionist,” Luthe said. “He wants things to be exactly the way he thinks they should be. He gets a little frustrated … but that’s good. You don’t want somebody to just be happy because they completed a pass, you want somebody that wants to complete every pass.”

Kent has come close to that mark, putting up big numbers through the air with 1,008 yards and a county-high 16 touchdowns this season. He’s 58-for-99 passing, completing 58.6 percent of his throws.

The junior has been almost as potent running the ball, with 327 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry.

Liberty (6-0, 2-0 county) has achieved perfection to this point and is riding its best start in program history, heading into the county’s most anticipated matchup Friday against Westminster (5-1, 2-0).

It just so happens to be Kent’s former team.

The circumstances are different this time around, though. Kent heads back to Ruby Field, the place he once called home for two seasons.

He’s now a starter, but sporting different colors.

Kent said he knows boos may come from the opposing crowd, something sort of expected coming into the process.

Any added pressure serves as motivation, he said.

“I like that kind of stuff,” Kent said. “I’m not too worried about it. I’m not thinking about that stuff too much. I know my teammates have my back and no matter what happens out there, it’ll be good.”

The transition has had its ups and downs. Kent noted that he still keeps in touch with some former teammates such as Owls kicker Evan Warren, but admitted he also misses spending with friends outside of football.

But a fresh start has provided ample opportunity and a team that has embraced him from the beginning is seeing success because of it.

“We all know that we have each other’s back,” Kent said. “[Senior linebacker] McClain Butler talked to me recently that the team chemistry this year is a lot better and different from the team last year. That’s what has led to some success.”

Kent and Liberty hope that the trend continues with what could be a season-defining win against the reigning Carroll County Athletic League champions.

“We’ve been getting better every day at practice and we’ve got probably our toughest game of the season this Friday,” Kent said. “They’re a good team … we’ve got a lot to prove.”

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