Little pomp and circumstance surrounded Century's first varsity football game last night at Liberty.
Liberty linebacker Ryan Stecher made certain there also was little mercy, collecting three interceptions and rushing for 73 yards in the Lions' season-opening, 20-2 win.
"All we had been thinking about was beating Century," said Stecher of the new Eldersburg school, which is just a scant few miles down Route 26. "We've got to beat them. They're rivals from right down the street."
The 6-foot, 210-pound junior led a defense that allowed held the surprisingly effective Knights without an offensive point despite six drives inside the Lions' 35.
"I talked to the defense a lot about bending a little bit and not breaking," said new Liberty coach Marty Brennan, a former six-year assistant under Ken Johnson, now at Winters Mill. "We had a lot of young kids in important spots. ... But we made plays when we needed to, both offensively and defensively."
Liberty, which mustered only four first downs in a lackluster first half, broke a scoreless tie, thanks to its defense.
On the first offensive play by new Century quarterback Chris Folland, Stecher picked off a pass at the Century 20 and went untouched down the right sideline for a touchdown, giving the Lions a 6-0 lead with 3:57 left in the half.
"Someone needed to step up out there," Stecher said. 'Our defense won the game for us."
Once on top, the Lions (1-0) then put the game away with 14 points in the third quarter on Ben Deal's 10-yard run and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Matt Anuszewski to first team All-Carroll County receiver Derek Ruch.
Century (0-1), which finished the game with just 18 healthy players and suffered from fatigue for much of the second half, scored its points on a snap over the head of its punter and out of the end zone.
"We came out and moved the ball, but we suffered from multiple mistakes that we made," Century coach Matt Flanagan said. "It was new to everybody - not a great score but a great learning experience."
The Knights did move the ball effectively in the game's early minutes, with running back Eric Powell gaining 35 yards on his first five carries. As the half progressed, however, their thin offensive line seemed to tire, and Powell was held to minus-2 yards on his next six carries before halftime.