Football: Liberty looking to create success in regional playoffs

Putting together the best season in program history — and one of Carroll’s best ever — has Liberty in the Class 2A West Region playoffs.

But the Lions say they won’t settle for another first-round loss.

They make their sixth playoff appearance Friday night at 7, as the No. 2 seed in the region against unbeaten Oakdale (9-0). The game was relocated to the turf stadium field at Marriotts Ridge High School in Howard County in an effort to avoid any weather issues.

Liberty is making a third consecutive playoff appearance, but is 1-5 all-time in its postseason history.

“We’ve talked about how our goal is to step up in the state playoffs,” Liberty coach Larry Luthe said. “We’ve been very successful in county play, but we haven’t been very successful in the playoffs. Our goal is to go out, put our best foot forward and make some things happens and make it a game. If we can stay in the game, you never know what’s going to happen.”

The Lions became the fifth team in county history to finish a regular season with a 10-0 record. They also won the Carroll County Athletic League title for a second time in three years.

Facing Oakdale will likely be their biggest challenge of the fall.

The Bears average 45.7 points per game and have outscored their opponents 411-67. They’ve put up some impressive victories, highlighted by a 56-7 road drubbing of Frederick County rival Linganore.

Quarterback Collin Schlee is Oakdale’s go-player on offense, with 1,039 passing yards and 17 touchdowns along with 570 rushing yards and eight TDs. Simeon Sabvute leads the team with 802 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Liberty’s Nate Kent and Nick Henderson have a combined 1,033 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Kent, the Lions’ junior quarterback, has thrown for 1,327 and a Carroll-best 22 touchdowns.

Luthe said a key factor for the Lions is to maintain the same consistency they’ve maintained all season. The Lions have recorded five shutouts this year, including a 17-0 Week 2 victory over Walkersville.

Many of the Lions have said that victory was a turning point for them, despite it being early in the season. They’ll need a similar effort Friday.

“We just have to play great, fundamental football, and we can’t blow any coverages,” Luthe said. “Their kids have a knack for finding open receivers, they tackle well and their kids run hard. Any mistakes we make, they can turn it into a big play offensively so we have to be patient and take what they give us. They do a great job of running to the football and making plays happen, so we want to make sure we take care of the football, take what they give us and be patient on offense.”

mwoodward@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7893

twitter.com/mwoodwardCCT

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