Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 | 1:34 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer try to contain their excitement for the start of the football season enough to get through the first slate of games. They also discuss the two defending state champions, Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran.
With a defense this good, the Liberty High football team will have plenty of time to develop its freshman quarterback.
The four-time defending Sunrise Region champion Patriots had two interception returns for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown Friday, scoring 28 unanswered points to open the game in a 42-12 victory against host Basic. It was the season opener for both.
Liberty’s defense and special teams produced a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first quarter to give the Patriots a 21-0 lead. Bryan Roland had a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown and Calvin Tubbs, one of nine returning starters on defense, had a 37-yard interception return for another score.
“Defensively, we played outstanding,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “I knew defense would be the strength of our team this year. The first unit played really well.”
Liberty finished with three interceptions and four quarterback sacks, including a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown from Dhamany Whittle late in the third quarter. More important, it limited Basic to less than 100 yards of offense.
Liberty’s last points came on a rushing touchdown in the final seconds. If the Patriots wouldn’t have scored, their defense would have accounted for more points than the offense.
And that freshman quarterback, 6-foot Kenyon Oblad, showed flashes of great play. He nearly passed for 200 yards, opening the scoring with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Dedeaux. The ball was slightly underthrown, but Dedeaux made a circus catch over the Basic defensive back and outraced the defense to the end zone.
Oblad had two interceptions — one was tipped; not his fault — and a few overthrows. But for his first varsity game, albeit against players much older, it was a great step forward, Muraco said.
“He is going to get better and better every week,” Muraco said. “This was the first time against kids three years older than him. The tempo and the speed of the game is a lot different than in practice.”
While Liberty won convincingly, there is still much to improve on. First, they committed four turnovers, including fumbling on the goal line yards away from scoring. And they were flagged for way too many penalties, giving away yardage all night.
“If we play a good team, if we have those penalties it would be a closer game,” Roland said.
Dallon Ellett had the play of the game for Basic, returning a fumble more than 50 yards for a touchdown on the last play on the first half.