Liberty Bell High School cruised to a 40-point win over the Bridgeport Mustangs in front of one of the larger crowds on Homecoming Night last Friday (Oct. 14), 70-30. Coach Jeff Lidey cleared the bench, giving everyone a chance to play as the home team jumped out to an early lead and continued to pile on throughout the contest.
The game was highlighted by big plays, as is characteristic of 8-man football. Senior quarterback Riley Lidey was pinpoint accurate with his passing. A corps of running backs was led by freshman Remy Paz, who filled in nicely for his older brother Lucien, sidelined with injury this past week.
Lidey led the Lions with 236 yards passing, completing 11 of his 14 attempts, rushing for 74 yards and accounting for six Mountain Lion touchdowns, four through the air and two via the run.
Lidey opened the scoring on a broken play. On the game’s second offensive play, he pivoted to hand the ball off to Paz only to find his tailback had taken off in the opposite direction. The quarterback reversed and took off toward the home sideline, breaking free around the end and sprinting 46 yards to pay dirt and an early lead, 6-0.
Lidey confessed the play was an ad lib off of the missed handoff, but refused to lay blame for the miscue on anyone. “We were able to make it happen, so it’s all good,” he said.
Remy Paz scored four touchdowns on the day, the first via the ground on a 2-yard run to cap a short drive in the first quarter. The second score was a 20-yard interception return of a Bridgeport pass in the second quarter. His third score was on a nifty pass-run option play late in the first half. With 4:04 to go, Paz took a pitch from Lidey rolling to his left, and spotted senior Nicholas White breaking open behind a Mustang defender. Paz fired a strike downfield, hitting White in stride, who scampered the last 25 yards into the end zone.
Lucien Paz was held out of the game Friday night, relegated to the sidelines after he took a nasty sideline hit at Kendrick last week, but was animated throughout the game. He is expected back in action the next time the Mountain Lions take the field, having been cleared to play.
Brodie Barnhart had, perhaps, the catch of the day in the fourth quarter, nabbing a deflected ball out of the night sky, juggling it a couple of times while being carried forward by his momentum, and securing the pigskin as he crossed the goal line.
Coach Jeff Lidey was all smiles after the game. “The kids played with focus and sportsmanship,” he said. “We were able to play everyone who was suited up, and got many of them quality time.” Indeed, Fischer Edwards — usually designated as a lineman — lined up in the fullback position, took a handoff on a 2-point conversion attempt, and rumbled the 3 yards untouched into the end zone.
Senior Sawyer Crandall added a touchdown reception of his own. He had a sure second score at the end of the first quarter when he stripped a Bridgeport player of the ball in from of the Mustang bench and dashed down the sideline, stepping out of bounds on the 2-yard line. The Mountain Lions opened the second frame with Beau Tanguy getting the first of his two scores on a 2-yard run to make the score 36-0.
The larger-than-normal crowd was noticed by Coach Lidey. “I thought the turnout was amazing! It definitely pumps these kids up to another level,” he said. “I see their play increase when the crowds are large, so a big thanks to the community turnout! The vibes were indeed great, love the homecoming weeks!”
The Mountain Lions moved to 5-2 on the season. Liberty Bell takes this weekend off to rest up for the first round of playoffs, a District 6 showdown with either Entiat or Waterville. Those two teams play Friday night for the right to face the Mountain Lions on Friday, Oct. 28.
Soccer: Mountain Lions split
The youthful Mountain Lions have not had a successful season so far looking strictly at the win-loss record. But head coach Katie Overbeck, now in her third season at the helm, sees beauty in the little things the girls are accomplishing this year that make for an optimistic outlook.
The girls dropped a 9-0 decision Tuesday (Oct. 11) to the powerful Okanogan Bulldogs, in a match hastily rearranged and moved from Liberty Bell’s Mountain Lion stadium to Okanogan as a result of smoky and unhealthy conditions.
“It was actually a beautiful soccer game,” said the coach. “You wouldn’t know it by the score, but Okanogan is a great team, fun to watch play a beautiful game, and our girls played well in spite of it … They had so many shots on goal, and Ruby (McCarthy) stopped a bunch of them. There were just so many opportunities by them that some were bound to get through.”
“Our improvement came offensively, even if we didn’t score a goal, we got some shots on goal, which hasn’t happened earlier,” Overbeck said.
Liberty Bell bounced back in authoritative fashion on Thursday (Oct. 13), shutting out the Lake Roosevelt Raiders in a Homecoming Week match at Mountain Lion Stadium, 3-0. Marit Nelson added to her team-leading goal total with a tally just six minutes into the first half with a free kick into the net for a 1-0 lead. Spanish exchange student Claudia Gomez-Arroyo snuck a loose ball past the netminder about midway through the first half for her first goal of the year, and with less than two minutes left in the match, Lillian Overbeck took a pass from Nelson to close out the 3-0 victory for the home team.
The Raiders had only 11 available players, two of those unable to continue after injuries in the first half. As each player dropped off the field, Overbeck also reduced her numbers on the field for an even balance between the two teams.
“We really can’t draw any conclusions from this game because of playing with reduced numbers,” said the coach. But the Mountain Lions (2-5) moved up a spot in the league standings into 6th place as they begin to look toward the district playoffs.
Volleyball: Trojans top Lions
The No. 3-ranked Manson Trojans made short work of the Mountain Lions in the Den Thursday night, disposing of Liberty Bell in straight sets by scores of 25-7, 25-11 and 25-9 in Central Washington 2B League volleyball.
Led by senior hitter Barbie Espinoza and pinpoint server Stella Peterson, Manson was in control from the start, jumping out to a huge lead in the first set and not looking back.
A constant barrage of attacking kill shots and defensive blocking from the taller front line quashed almost every Mountain Lion attempt at scoring. The second set saw the Mountain Lions jump out to a quick 6-1 lead, only to see that dissolve after a steady and prolonged Trojan string of points. The final set followed the same scenario of quick defense and a disciplined rhythm of bump, set, kill by the visitors from the Chelan Valley.
Coach Beth Blank was upbeat after the tough night. “Yeah, our kids hustled and didn’t quit. Manson’s good and showed it,” she said.
The Mountain Lions entertained Okanogan as guests to the Lions’ Den on Tuesday (Oct. 18). They travel to Bridgeport on Wednesday (Oct. 19), then return home on Tuesday (Oct. 25) for their final home match of the season with the Tonasket Tigers. All three matches start at 6:30 p.m.
The match on Oct. 25 will be Senior Night honoring Ellie Blank and Kassandra Bird. Blank has been with the program all four years, showing herself early on in her freshman year as a rising star in the program. Then the “COVID year” and a pair of knee injuries took her out of action her junior year and the last half of this year. Bird is a first-year player.
Cross country in Spokane
Originally scheduled to run at the annual Kodiak Invite at the Leavenworth Ski Hill on Saturday, the Mountain Lion cross country team was forced to make a last-minute change when smoky conditions around the Bavarian town forced cancelation of the meet. Coaches Erik and Sarah Brooks ended up heading the team to Nine Mile Falls near Spokane for the Lake Spokane Invitational, hosted by Lakeside High School.
Both the boys and girls nailed 4th-place team finishes and were led by junior runners Will Halpin and Leki Albright. Albright was 5th overall in a small but competitive field of eight teams and 73 varsity and junior varsity runners. She was the top 1B/2B runner, covering the course in 20:41.9.
Sandra Hernandez placed 27th, Zoe Kaltenbach was 34th and eighth-graders Ingrid Venable, Yasmin Moore and Juniper Dickson went 39th, 53rd and 54th, respectively.
On the boys’ side, junior Halpin was 3rd overall with a time of 17:03 on the 5-kilometer course. Aksel Thomson followed in 22nd place, Jackson Schmekel 29th, Kyler Mitchell 43rd, Tristan Schmekel 51st, and “Team Tristan” (Schmekel and Hover) in 51st and 53rd, respectively.
The junior varsity boys race featured 95 runners, four of them from Liberty Bell. George Chavez-Hernandez placed 27th with a time of 20:40. Brother John Chavez-Hernandez and Hunter Wolak ran 53rd and 54th, respectively, Omar Ortega 90th.
Liberty Bell travels to Oroville on Friday (Oct. 21) for the last regular season meet before hosting the league and district championships on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Mountain Lion Stadium. That meet will also serve as the qualifier for the WIAA state championships on Nov. 5 in Pasco.
Fans were treated to some new experiences upon entering the parking lot this year. Liberty Bell’s Booster Club, in addition to their usual assortment of concession goodies, had arranged for booths featuring face painting, food and spirit gear. The Key Club was selling baked goods, and the Mountain Burger Wagon was on hand, serving up a dinner menu for campus guests.
There were also several parking lot pre-game tailgate parties, as well as one of the larger crowds in recent memory gathering for the contest.
Halftime featured the coronation of the 2022 royal court under the unseasonably and unaccustomed warmer conditions. There were no weather-related complaints from the court decked out in typical formal wear (except for the young men in football gear).