The Liberty Bell High School Mountain Lions begin the defense of their 2022 WIAA-Gesa state 1B football championship this Saturday night (Nov. 18) in Wenatchee’s Apple Bowl.
As the No. 1 seed into the tournament, Liberty Bell enjoyed a first-round bye last weekend and will take on Wellpinit on Saturday, kickoff at 7 p.m.
The 8-2 Redskins could provide some challenges for the undefeated Mountain Lions with their short, quick-hitting passing game. Senior quarterback Grant Denison guides the Wellpinit offense, throwing often to a pair of junior running backs Kaden McRae and Andrew Moyer, mostly coming from out of the backfield.
The Wellpinit offensive lines appear under-sized and Liberty Bell will look to exploit that with their powerful and larger front lines, anchored by junior center Damon Alumbaugh and an athletic cast on both sides.
Sophomore running back Remington Paz should find holes to run through. Paz has proven quickness and has been able to outrun some good defensive backfields with regularity all season long. When Paz goes out, there’s no rest for the Redskins as Bodie Thomson, Alex Ramsay-George and Baker Smith all have size and breakaway speed that can cause problems for a leg-weary defense.
When Paz isn’t running the ball, older brother and junior quarterback Lucien Paz has a fleet-footed and sure-handed core of receivers in senior Brody Barnhart, junior Baker Smith and Remi out of the backfield, and an offensive line that is athletic, big and tough. Lucien is also a threat to run. Several times this year he has rushed for over 100 yards while connecting on passes exceeding 200 total yards in a game.
The late kickoff on Saturday follows two earlier games slated for the Apple Bowl. Okanogan plays Goldendale at 1 p.m. in the 2B 11-man state bracket. The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed and the Timberwolves are No. 7. State 1A No. 4 seed Cashmere hosts Seton Catholic at 4 p.m. in the same venue.
A win on Saturday and the Mountain Lions will take on the winner of the opposite bracket matchup between No. 4 Liberty Christian and No. 5 Neah Bay. The Mountain Lions will know their next round opponent before their Saturday kickoff as that game is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Richland, and should be concluded by 3 p.m.
As of Monday, a location for that semi-final game on Thanksgiving weekend has not been set. The state finals for all classes will be in Husky Stadium in Seattle’s Montlake district on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2. The 1B title game will kick off on Friday at 11 a.m.
The other two games in the 1B quarterfinal round have No. 2 seed Wilbur-Creston-Keller facing No. 10 Naselle at Lions Field in Moses Lake. The Comets upset No. 7 Pomeroy in a Saturday afternoon touchdown extravaganza, 78-58. No. 3 Mossyrock will host No. 6 Almira-Coulee-Hartline at 12:30 p.m.