Las Vegas Sun

May 19, 2019

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high school football:

Liberty survives scare at Coronado, still in first place of Southeast

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back with their weekly high school football podcast. This week's episode plays more like a variety show, as the two touch on a number of issues related to last week's gridiron action.

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Dustin Kaanaana’s 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Friday night helped the Liberty High football team overcame a late deficit and escape with a 16-10 victory at host Coronado.

Liberty, which hasn’t lost a Southeast Division game since 2009, was taken to the limits by a Coronado squad with just two league wins in the last two years.

However, Liberty coach Rich Muraco said Coronado deserves credit for keeping the game close.

“Their defense is much improved,” Muraco said. “It was their homecoming game and they had a big crowd. They were pumped up.”

In the first half, Liberty ditched its typically between-the-tackles rushing attack for more passing plays out of the spread offense. The plan, which was to help add a wrinkle to the Patriots’ attack for the playoffs, nearly backfired.

“We weren’t able to get any rhythm going offensively,” Muraco said. “We kind of got away from what we do best. We weren’t best prepared this week and I will take the heat for that.”

Muraco decided to limit leading rusher Niko Kapeli’s touches with hopes of resting him for the playoffs, which start in the two weeks for the defending Sunrise Region champion Patriots. But Kapeli was called into duty in the second half, gaining 53 yards on 10 carries to help secure the win.

Kapeli’s older brother, fullback Jordan Kapeli, had a 10-yard touchdown run in the first half to give Liberty an early 7-0 lead. However, Coronado’s defense was stellar all night and the Cougars scored the next 10 points to lead 10-7 in the fourth quarter.

“We definitely need to improve if we want to win the Sunrise,” Muraco said. “It’s good to know we can still win after performing that poorly and being outplayed.”

Liberty (7-1 overall) won for the seventh straight game.

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