Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 | 12:25 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer express excitement over the race in the Northwest division with Shadow Ridge and Legacy emerging as surprise contenders, and take stock of the other leagues.
The Liberty High football team left little doubt Friday night as to its dominance in the Sunrise Region.
The six-time defending regional champions opened league play with a convincing victory against Green Valley, jumping out to a five-touchdown lead by halftime to trigger the mercy rule of a running clock in a 49-13 win.
And Green Valley, you can easily argue, is the Sunrise’s second-best program.
“We know that if we play the way we are capable of playing, we’ll be tough to beat,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said.
Liberty earned its stripes in nonleague play, winning at Austin Westlake — one of Texas’ top teams — and beating two respected local opponents. While the Patriots lost last week at Centennial of Corona, Calif., for their first defeat of the season, there’s no shame falling to a top-20 national opponent.
That's especially true when considering Liberty’s mission in playing the tough schedule: To be ready for location competition.
They appeared to be more than ready tonight.
Junior Kenyon Oblad passed for about 300 yards and six touchdowns, including 32-yard scoring strike to Ethan Dedeaux on the last play of the first quarter in one of the game’s crucial plays.
Liberty faced a fourth down needing more than 25 yards for a first down. Oblad heaved the ball long to Dedeaux, a San Diego State verbal commit, who hauled it in over a defender and fought his way into the endzone. The game was close early, meaning an incompletion would have given upset-minded Green Valley more momentum.
Darion Acohido and Dedeaux each had two touchdowns for Liberty, and Marquez Powell had five catches and a touchdown.
“The kids got right back after it on Monday,” Muraco said. “It is all about league now. The out-of-state stuff and the national rankings, that’s all nice. But it really doesn’t mean anything. (League) is the only thing that matters.”
Green Valley scored a touchdown in each half, including a nifty 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kalyja Waialae to Logan Beard in the first half. Beard, who led Green Valley with eight receptions for 60 yards, out-dueled two defenders for the catch in one of the game’s impressive plays.
The remainder of the night, though, belonged to the Liberty defense. Liberty has held three of its five opponents to 14 points or less, including Austin Westlake.
“Throughout the week our coaches were pushing us every day to get better and better,” said Jay Kakiva, Liberty junior defensive end. “We are all working as a team. We won together.”