In a cross-sectional game played in a hybrid 8-man and 11-man format, the No. 1 ranked 1B Liberty Bell High School Mountain Lions jumped out to a 46-0 halftime lead over the 2B Chewelah Cougars of Jenkins High School, then cruised to a 64-24 Homecoming win on Saturday (Oct. 21) at Mountain Lion stadium.
A crowd estimated at about 500 came out to see the Mountain Lions in their only regular season home game of the 2023 season, and were treated to an offensive onslaught highlighted by the Liberty Bell passing attack and a very stingy defense that did not allow the visitors into home territory for nearly all of the opening half.
The Mountain Lions opened the scoring on the first drive, an ad lib sort of play by junior quarterback Lucien Paz. Dropping back to pass, Paz was pressured by the Chewelah rush, and pulled the ball down as if to run. Spotting brother Remington open to his left about 8 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, Lucien hit him in stride with a nifty short jump pass and it was off to the races for the speedy sophomore, for 54 yards and the Liberty Bell touchdown, three and a half minutes and only a few plays into the game.
Mountain Lion freshman Yolo Paz intercepted Cougar starter Rylan Acord’s pass near midfield and returned it to the Chewelah 32-yard line. From there, Lucien Paz took the ball on a quarterback run 32 yards through, around and over the Cougar defense, breaking tackles and making a Houdini-like escape from two pursuers to find the end zone for a 12-0 Liberty Bell lead with 3:06 on the first-quarter clock.
After another three-and-out for Chewelah and a short punt, the two Paz brothers connected for a 45-yard score and an 18-0 first quarter lead.
Liberty Bell added scored on a 35-yard Remi run, a 55-yard run by Lucien off an intended pass play, another Lucien-to-Remi pass for 27 yards and a 7-yard run by Bodie Thomson to make the score 46-0 at halftime. Thomson’s touchdown was set up by a Remi Paz interception of new Cougar quarterback, junior Dekota Acosta.
The Mountain Lions changed things up in the third quarter, shifting Remi Paz to the signal calling spot and moving Lucien into a receiver/running back rotation. There were other changes that saw starting center Damon Alumbaugh trying his hand as a receiver, and multiple substitutions on defense. Remi made two more trips into the end zone on runs of 57 and 7 yards, and added a 54-yard pass to Baker Smith to close out the Mountain Lion scoring at 64-8.
Chewelah scored three touchdowns and was successful on all three 2-point conversion attempts in the final quarter, the final score coming on a pinpoint throw from Acosta to Miles Krausz for a 44-yard touchdown.
The game was played as an 8-man game when Liberty Bell was on offense, 11-man when Chewelah possessed the ball, the second time the Mountain Lions used that hybrid format. In a September game at Brewster, Liberty Bell escaped with a 46-40 victory over the Bears.
It was a good schedule filler for Liberty Bell, according to coach Jeff Lidey, as it served as a preview for next year when the Methow Valley high school returns to the 2B ranks. “Yeah, it gives us a good feel for how to move into next year,” said Lidey, “while keeping the kids fresh for the upcoming playoffs.”
It was only the fifth game for the Mountain Lions this season, and their fifth win against no losses in this transition year when the agreement between Liberty Bell and the WIAA expires at season’s end. Liberty Bell returns to 2B 11-man football next year after a four-year period at 1B intended to rebuild the program numbers to levels adequate for competition at the elevated classification.
The 1B post season begins this weekend with WIAA RPI No. 1 Liberty Bell traveling to Moses Lake to take on the CWB No. 2 seeded and RPI ranked No. 12 Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian Lions in the CW1B district tournament. The Lions are 6-1 on the season, their lone loss a 68-22 drubbing at the hands of the Waterville-Mansfield Shockers. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. at Lions Field in Moses Lake.
The Shockers, No. 13 in the WIAA RPI index, entertain Entiat in the other side of the bracket. Each winner will then enter the District 6 & 7 crossover to determine the two teams that will advance on to the 12-team state 1B tournament, opening on Nov. 10. The WIAA state championships will be held the first weekend of December in Seattle at Husky Stadium.
Lil’ Lions win
Better late than never was the theme of the evening as the Middle School Mountain Lions waited until the final moments to wrest the lead away from Manson and claim victory in their final game of the season Monday night at Liberty Bell’s Mountain Lion Stadium.
Liberty Bell used a 59-yard run-pass combination, quarterback Tyson Schroeder finding receiver Owen Bosco at the Manson 39. Upon being confronted at the 35-yard line by Manson defenders, Bosco flipped a backward pass to the trailing Cole Otte, who broke free and dashed into the end zone. It was Liberty Bell’s first lead of the game, with only 13.7 seconds remaining on the fourth-quarter clock.
“We finished the year 4-3, one of those games an all-seventh-grader game at Waterville. Giving the younger kids a chance to play the whole game was good for them, and will pay huge dividends for both the junior high program next year, and for the high school program down the road,” said coach Jim McMillan.
Looking ahead, 10 eighth-graders of the 26 total players on the roster jump up to high school next year, with a solid core of seventh-graders to greet the incoming middle schoolers. “We should have a really strong program for the next few years,” concluded McMillan.
Districts next for XC
Liberty Bell’s boys’ and girls’ cross country programs return to action this week after most of a week off since running in Leavenworth on Oct. 14. The girls travel to the Yakima area on Thursday (Oct. 26) for a combined District 5 & 6 state qualifier, while the boys remain at home for Saturday’s District 6 and CWB League championships.
Senior Mountain Lion Leki Albright is the favorite to repeat, again, as the girls’ D5/6 champion, having won the title in her sophomore and junior years.
Albright’s main competition should come from district rivals and fellow seniors Kaydence Carrington of Brewster and Oroville’s Araceli Esquivel. Elsa Emmons of Yakima’s Highland and Goldendale’s Emma Meagher fill out the hypothetical top five.
As a team, with six runners on the course, the Mountain Lion girls need to be one of the top two teams in the points tally at Apple Ridge and head to Pasco next week for the seventh straight time. Liberty Bell, based on runner times and performance this season, on paper looks to be the favorite to win this year’s title. Manson and Oroville will compete for the second spot to state. Warden’s Cougars, as District 5’s only full team, would seem to be a longshot to grab one of those top two spots.
Liberty Bell junior Dexter Delaney should again lead the boys’ field on the home course with seniors Will Halpin and Aksel Thomson in the top five. But Osvaldo Calderon of Brewster has been strong and could break up the Mountain Lion trio. Okanogan’s Bulldogs have proven to be a strong team on the course, taking the Liberty Bell Invite a couple of weeks ago.
A league championship for the Mountain Lions will depend on their Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 runners moving up in the field from the recent Liberty Bell Invite. That would indicate more personal record marks for each of Tristan Hover, Kyler Mitchell, George Chavez-Hernandez and Brodi Barber, and an ability to break up the Bulldog pack. Brewster’s Bears will also have a role in the top three.
The key to Liberty Bell’s 13th straight appearance at state as a full team will be to place no lower than third in the team standings. That streak, dating back to 2010, includes one state championship, two second places and several fourth-place trophies.
The girls’ meet at Apple Ridge on Thursday is slated for a 4:45 p.m. start. Action for the CWB boys’ District 6 meet on Saturday at Liberty Bell begins with the varsity race at 12:30 p.m. A junior varsity race will go at 1 p.m., if there are at least 12 JV runners.
Volleyball vanquishes Fillies
Liberty Bell’s improving volleyball squad celebrated Senior Night last Thursday with a 3-0 sweep of the Bridgeport Fillies, sending the visitors home in fairly quick fashion, 26-24, 25-6 and 25-17. Coach Beth Blank opened the match starting all four of her seniors, keeping them in the rotation most of the way, even after Bridgeport erased a 16-22 deficit to lead match at 24-22.
Youth took over with sophomore blocker Sophia Baribar sending over a kill shot that deflected off of a Filly and out of bounds to close the Bridgeport lead to 24-23. Sophomore classmate Helaina Remsberg followed with a service ace and a perfect set to freshman Wynter Woras for the kill and a 25-24 lead. Remsberg followed with another ace and the Mountain Lions escaped with the 26-24 first set win.
The Lions then buckled down, blasting the Fillies in set two 25-6, and playing to a steady and consistent third set victory and match clincher 25-17.
Despite the sweep, there was reason for head coach Beth Blank to express some concern for a couple of specific areas. First, Blank mentioned a struggle “with uncharacteristic, missed serves and unforced errors.”
Bottom line, though, her Mountain Lions won a match they should have won and was a good test of grit and determination, especially that first set.
“After a string of competitive, high-level games against the best in the league, our girls played a slower paced, scrappy game against a much-improved Bridgeport team,” Blank said. “We need to keep our intensity up regardless of who we are playing.”
Seniors Bailey Thomson, Skyler McArthur, Kaitlyn Evans and Kaylee Mitchell were honored by their team, coaches and crowd prior to their last volleyball appearance in the Den.
The Mountain Lions traveled to Okanogan on Tuesday, Oct. 17, where they lost a three-set match to the Bulldogs. Set scores and match details were not available. As of Monday (Oct. 23), Liberty Bell (5-8) sits in sixth place in the CW2B League with a scheduled match at fifth-place Tonasket (6-7) on Tuesday, to close out the regular season.
The Mountain Lions have locked up spot in the District 6 playoffs, and a win over Tonasket on Tuesday potentially could vault the Mountain Lions over the Tigers, subject to tie-breaking criteria. With District 6 post-season action firing up later this week, the Mountain Lions will be playing on Saturday (Oct. 28) at Omak High School. A loss puts them in the No. 6 seed and a noon match with Lake Roosevelt. A win at Tonasket, and some tie breaking hocus-pocus, could mean a No. 5 seed and a 1:30 p.m. match with the Brewster Bears. The Mountain Lions have played well against both teams, with two tough losses to the Raiders and a season split with Brewster.
Soccer drops two
There was not a lot of good news for the Mountain Lion girls’ soccer program this past week, as they dropped two matches by identical scores of 4-0, first to Brewster at home on Tuesday, then at Pateros on Thursday.
An ankle injury to Elaine Walker during the pre-game warm-up further depleted the Liberty Bell ranks, forcing a younger, less experienced roster out onto the pitch for Coach Katie Overbeck.
With starting goaltender Lilly Belcher still on the shelf in the concussion protocol, Cassidy Jones-Mowen capably filled the nets again for the Mountain Lions at home against Brewster, holding her own against repeated Bear assaults on the Liberty Bell goal in the first half. The constant Bear pressure, though, eventually wore down the depleted Mountain Lions’ defense and in a barrage of 20-some shots on goal, four of them got past Jones-Mowen into the net.
The story was much the same at Pateros on Thursday where the Nannies avenged an earlier shootout loss to Liberty Bell, keeping the ball in friendly territory and spending a lot of time in Mountain Lion territory, firing four second-half shots into the net.
Assistant coach Andrew Nelson reported that the match was very competitive in the first half, the teams going to the bench knotted at 0-0 after 40 minutes. But, again, the depleted numbers and constant pressure wore down the girls in the second half.
A Senior Night match against Manson at Liberty Bell on Tuesday was all that was left of the regular season. Liberty Bell hoped to vault over Bridgeport in the standings to the No. 5 seed for post-season play.