By Mike Maltais
Coach Sy Bannick summed up the season for the Liberty Bell High School football team as well as anyone following the 37-27 loss to White Swan last Friday (Nov. 8) that knocked the Mountain Lions out of a state playoff berth.
“We were able to have a winning record on the field and come within 10 points of a league championship,” Bannick said of the 4-2 Mountain Lions.
Even though the game was played on the home turf of the undefeated Cougars, Liberty Bell was riding the momentum of a 48-8 home field win over Kittitas the week previous.
Picking up where they left off, the Mountain Lions got on the board first early in the opening quarter on a long 34-yard pass from quarterback Chip Jones to senior receiver Chase Kurtz. Special teams kicker Jorge Lara split the uprights and Liberty Bell took a 7-0 lead that lasted through the quarter.
The Cougars, boasting a 50-man roster including 19 players over 200 pounds, then mounted their own offensive drive.
“They were able to put together about a 10-minute drive starting about the nine-minute mark in the first quarter and ending shortly into the second that wore us down a bit,” Bannick said.
That drive switched the momentum to White Swan’s favor and the Cougars used it to good advantage in the second quarter, racking up 23 unanswered points.
“We were able to answer with a long Austin Watson TD run right before the half and cut the lead to 10,” Bannick said.
White Swan’s second-quarter surge would ultimately prove to be the turning point in the game.
“We were able to regroup at halftime and played them even the rest of the way, but the big second quarter created too big a margin from us to come back from,” the coach said.
The Mountain Lions were helmet-to-helmet with White Swan throughout the third quarter and neither team added any points to the scoreboard.
In the fourth quarter, a QB keeper by Jones, a TD pass to Milo Holston and two more point-after-kicks by Lara gave Liberty Bell another 14 points, but the Cougars answered with 14 of their own to maintain a 10-point lead at the buzzer.
“White Swan lived up to the kind of team we thought they would be,” Bannick said. “They had big kids, ran a crisp offense and played tough on defense.”
Last year the Cougars were also the season-ending spoilers for Liberty Bell when they defeated the Mountain Lions, 33-27.
White Swan will meet Colfax in the first round of state playoffs beginning Nov. 15 while Oroville goes up against Reardan.
“Overall, we had a good season,” Bannick said. “We fell a little short of our goal this year, but we had some fun times and some big wins.”
Austin Watson – 7 carries, 101 yds, 1 TD; 1 reception, 22 yds
Emmett Fink – 11 carries, 50 yds
Chip Jones – 15 carries, 23 yds, 1 TD; passing, 5/11, 132 yds, 2 TDs
Chase Kurtz – 1 reception, 34 yds, 1 TD
Milo Holston – 2 receptions, 74 yds, 1TD
Cesar Dominguez – 33 tackles
Milo Holston – 20 tackles
Emmett Fink – 12 tackles, 1 caused fumble
Colby Smith – 10 tackles
Jaymis Hanson – 9 tackles
Jacob McMillan – 8 tackles
Chip Jones – 7 tackles
Riley Calvert – 6 tackles
Chase Kurtz – 4 tackles
Garrett Jensen – 4 tackles
Jose Dominguez – 4 tackles
Jorge Lara – 3 tackles
Eden Davis – 2 tackles
Austin Watson – 1 tackle
Derek Alumbaugh – 1 tackle
Zane Herrera – 1 tackle
Jorge Lara – 3 kickoffs 142 yds; 1 punt 46, yds; 1/2 extra points, 0/1 field goal; 2 kick returns, 65 yds
Austin Watson – 2 kick returns, 36 yds
Offense by quarter
1st – 10 rush yds, 34 pass yds, 1 TD
2nd – 101 rush yds, 1 TD, 6 pass yds
3rd – 60 rush yds, 0 pass
4th – 3 rush yds, 1 TD, 93 pass yds, 1 TD