Photos by Don Nelson

Kickoff and return drills were part of the final practice session for the Mountain Lions before the Oroville game last week.

Second-half surge, White’s 4 touchdowns highlight LBHS effort

Brayden White’s four touchdowns and a strong second half helped redeem a slow start for the Liberty Bell High School football team in its season opener at Oroville on Friday (Aug. 31). But the Mountain Lions couldn’t overcome a 40-7 halftime deficit as the Hornets’ high-power offense prevailed in a 64-33 win for the home team.

“We did not have a good start,” Liberty Bell head coach Bob Bucsko said. “But in the second half we came alive and never gave up, scoring 26 points against the Oroville first team.” In fact, Liberty Bell outscored Oroville in the second half.

White, a senior, showed off the speed he demonstrated on the track last year with kickoff returns of 76 and 85 yards for touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 170 yards on 9 carries (an average of 19 yards per carry) and scored two running touchdowns as well. Junior Magnus Treise scored the Mountain Lions’ other touchdown on a 30-yard pass from senior quarterback Tanner White — who completed 4 of 9 passes, with one interception, for 65 yards.

Senior Brady Moriarty gained 73 yards on 9 carries and caught a pass. Sophomore Tyler Darwood caught two passes, one for a two-point conversion.

The Mountain Lions compiled 328 total yards on offense and had 9 first downs.

Liberty Bell’s first home game of the season will be Friday (Sept. 7) against Kettle Falls. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Returning experience

Second-year Liberty Bell head coach Bob Bucsko talked about the Mountain Lions’ upcoming game during practice last week — one of the few the team had outdoors.

The Mountain Lions are coming off a 3-6 season in 2017 (3-5 in league play), including a memorable last-second Homecoming win over Manson.

Bucsko said in an interview last week that the 2017 squad learned “what they are capable of, if they play as a team.” The off-season saw 18 players show up for spring football, and 15 attended a summer camp at Central Washington University. “The coaches and the kids got to know each other at a different level” in a setting with high expectations, Bucsko said of the summer camp.

“They got a lot of playing time and learned a lot of skills,” the coach said.

More than 20 players are on the current varsity roster — noteworthy compared to a few years back when the team couldn’t field enough players for Liberty Bell’s final game of the season, resulting in a forfeit.

But practice time for the fall season was again an issue, as it was last year, because of heavy wildfire smoke that made it unhealthy to practice outdoors. Bucsko said that only four of the Mountain Lions’ initial 14 practices were outside; the rest were in the gym. Because many of the players had summer jobs, practices were from 6:30 – 9 a.m.

Bucsko said that Tanner White, in his third year as the starting quarterback, “has really stepped up and become a leader. The kids listen to him. He has a pretty good grasp of both the offense and the defense.”

Bucsko noted several players who have a chance to make an impact this year, including Brayden White, Treise, junior Alex Whites, senior Alex Garcia, senior Vincent Schnoor, junior Abel Curtis, Moriarty, junior Jed McMillan, Darwood and sophomore Bodie Paul.

Last year, Tanner White earned honorable mention honors on the Central Washington all-league offensive and defensive teams. Treise was second-team all league on defense and honorable mention on offense.

Also on the roster is freshman Tre Bucsko — the coach’s grandson. Bucsko coached two of his sons earlier in his career.

Bucsko has nearly 30 years of head coaching experience, much of it spent rebuilding struggling programs. He has taken teams to the playoffs eight times and earned a Coach of the Year title seven times.

“You’ll see a team that’s fundamentally sound and comes to compete,” Bucsko said of the 2018 Mountain Lions.