By Don Nelson
Despite the short notice, a good crowd turned out for Monday night football at the Liberty Bell High School stadium and enjoyed a beautiful evening.
Unfortunately for the Mountain Lions, the visiting Oroville Hornets spoiled Liberty Bell’s home opener, overpowering the home team 38-0.
The two teams had been scheduled to play last Friday (Sept. 8), but the game was postponed because of poor air quality conditions in the Methow Valley. It was rescheduled for Monday night (Sept. 11).
Oroville employed a consistent ground game, led by senior running back Caleb Mills, to pile up nearly 350 yards on the ground and grind out touchdowns in every quarter. Liberty Bell showed flashes of promise on offense with some impressive long runs, but the Mountain Lion drives sputtered too often because of penalties and fumbles.
“They [Oroville] were much stronger and very physical,” Liberty Bell coach Bob Bucsko said after the game. “We’re still in the learning process, and it was an eye-opener for us.”
That said, Bucsko added that he was not disappointed in the Mountain Lions’ effort. “We have to continue to progress,” he said. “We’re not consistent yet.” He cited the penalties (eight in Monday’s game) and fumbles (three against Oroville) as areas that need improvement.
Oroville scored on its opening drive. Later in the first quarter, Liberty Bell held the Hornets on fourth down and trailed 6-0 going into the second quarter.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Oroville scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Hornets added a 4-yard touchdown run at the 2-minute mark. Liberty Bell’s Enrique Whites roused the home crowd with a long kickoff return, but it was negated by a holding penalty and Oroville took a 20-0 halftime lead into the locker room.
The Mountain Lions opened the second half with the ball, but gave it up with a fumble at the 50-yard line. Oroville scored another rushing touchdown a few minutes later. Then the Hornets’ Colby Guzman threaded the Liberty Bell defense for a 44-yard scoring run that gave Oroville a 32-0 lead at the end of the third quarter. The visitors added one more touchdown in the final quarter, and a late Liberty Bell scoring threat was stopped by another fumble.
Liberty Bell’s Seth Stevie led the Mountain Lions’ ground game with 62 yards on nine carries. Reid Wengerd added 22 yards, Brayden White 15 and Whites rushed for 10 yards. Quarterback Tanner White was 5-10 passing for 42 yards, with no interceptions. Brady Moriarty had two receptions, while Tyler Darwood, Owen Hevly and Quinton Knox had one each. Liberty Bell registered nine first downs.
As for the next game, Bucsko noted that “we don’t have much time to recover.” The Mountain Lions travel to Lake Roosevelt on Friday night (Sept. 15). A few players who are still accumulating the required 12 practices before playing will be available for the home game against Soap Lake on Sept. 22, Bucsko said.