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Liberty's McClain Butler and Nick Hinton combine on a tackle against South Carroll during the second half of their game in Winfield Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Liberty's McClain Butler and Nick Hinton combine on a tackle against South Carroll during the second half of their game in Winfield Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County TImes)

After an 0-2 start, Liberty is right where it wants to be heading into this week’s game against Westminster. The Lions have won five games in a row, outscoring opponents 170-45 over that stretch.

“The first two weeks we had question marks in a lot of places and those two games showed our weaknesses,” senior quarterback Nathan Kent said. “After we played Century things first clicked and that’s when we started firing on all cylinders.”

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In Friday night’s 41-0 victory over South Carroll, the Lions (5-2, 4-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League) offense moved up and down the field with ease. The Cavaliers had no answer for Kent on the ground or through the air. After completing four of five passes to propel Liberty’s first two drives, he broke free for a 57-yard scramble to set up the Lions third touchdown. He finished with 187 yards passing and 134 yards rushing, the second straight week he’s had more than 100 yards passing and rushing.

Despite the shutout, Liberty coach Larry Luthe knows his team needs to be better next week. The Lions committed six penalties Friday night, two of which wiped away long runs. The Cavaliers also had five drives end in Liberty territory and were able to get yards on the ground at times.

With a county championship on the line, Luthe said he expects his team will be ready to go.

If they’re not excited for next week, they shouldn’t be on the football field,” Luthe said. “It’s a county championship, they know what the stakes are and they’ll be ready to play.”

Meanwhile, Westminster (5-2, 4-0) heads into the CCAL clash with three consecutive shutout victories and a five-game winning streak. The Owls have outscored their county competition 144-13 this season. Manchester Valley, Francis Scott Key, and Century went down by a combined 113-0.

Westminster downed Century 35-0 last Friday with three touchdown runs from junior Erick Stranko and two TDs from Ben Flowers, one rushing and another receiving.

“We are just trying to play good fundamental football,” Owls coach Chris Bassler said after Friday’s game. “Put our guys every week in good position to make plays. We are tackling really well right now, which helps. We just want to be disciplined and physical on both sides of the ball. If that is a recipe that we keep repeating, we should be in good shape.”

Sophomores giving Eagles a boost: Before the season began, first-year coach Will Thompson said the handful of sophomores on his Francis Scott Key roster would be contributing from the start.

Many of those 10th-graders have done just that in 2019. The Eagles (2-5, 1-4 CCAL) feature a pair of sophomores in their backfield, Ryan Rill and Bryce Zepp, who have had success within Key’s Wing-T scheme.

Rill and Zepp combined for more than 300 rushing yards before last Friday’s 8-6 win over Manchester Valley, then totaled close to 100 more. Rill accounted for FSK’s two-point conversion that proved to be the difference.

The sophomores have shined on defense, too. Lineman Carr Baker (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) was second on the team with 26 tackles (four for loss) heading into the Man Valley game, with Rill (four sacks) and Zepp (two) pitching in as well.

Defensive back Jarren Rutter had two interceptions against the Mavericks, the second of which sealed the win for FSK, and added a fumble recovery.

Key’s other sophomores are Nick Diehl, Jaeden Heiser, and Austin Schemm.

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