Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 | 9:44 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer recap a particularly memorable week 1 in Las Vegas high school football that included Bishop Gorman obliterated a Texas power and two games between top five teams that came down to the final minute.
Nevada has officially solidified itself as a force on the national high school football scene.
For the second straight week, a team from Las Vegas went into the most storied high school football state in the nation and came away with a victory against its top-rated team. Liberty upset Westlake 21-14 Friday night in Austin to join Bishop Gorman, which thumped Dallas’ Cedar Hill six days ago, as Texas slayers.
“We’ve never played in a football game this huge,” Liberty quarterback Kenyon Oblad said. “I think we showed Vegas teams are right up there with anybody.”
Oblad threw for three touchdowns in a game the Patriots never trailed. The first points came when Oblad found senior Darion Acohido for a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Senior Ethan Dedeaux caught the next two scores. The San Diego State commit now has four receiving touchdowns in two games, the pair against Westlake coming from 14 and 31 yards.
“If teams are going to try to cover him one on one, that’s what’s going to happen,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “But if you double Ethan, then you’re going to leave Acohido and (Marquez) Powell one on one.”
Acohido was the leading receiver on Friday night, and also racked up a number of carries. He sealed the victory for the Patriots on a 3rd-and-7 play from inside their own 20-yard line with less than two minutes to go.
Acohido fought for just enough yards to allow Liberty to run out the clock.
“We have a go-to play where we know we can go to get yards,” Oblad said. “I knew Darion would beat the linebacker, and I knew I would make the throw. We were all comfortable. No one was even nervous.”
The Patriots’ defense controlled the game for most of the night, holding the Chaparrals scoreless in the first half. Westlake had less than 100 yards of offense until it scored after recovering a blocked punt early in the third quarter.
With Westlake’s Texas-committed quarterback Sam Ehlinger out to injury, Muraco said the Patriots implemented an attacking game plan.
“We realized we needed to put pressure on the young kid,” he said. “From the start, we went after him.”
Crishaun Lappin, Noah Espinoza and Dariyen Sample had sacks as Liberty sent frequent blitzes. That put the onus on the Patriots’ secondary starring Alan Mwata, Dom Turner and Octavion Bell.
They held up well with the exception of one 68-yard Westlake passing touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the score to 21-14.
“But that’s going to happen,” Muraco said. “Overall, it was a great group effort from our athletes at defensive back.”
Liberty’s defense stood tough when it mattered most. Westlake drove to inside of the 10-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter, but Liberty forced and recovered a fumble to prevent any points.
The Chaparrals had a chance for a game-tying drive starting at midfield with four minutes to go. They lost two yards as the Patriots forced a three-and-out.
Those type of stands not only gave Liberty what Muraco called “the biggest win in program history,” but also national relevance.
“We definitely earned it tonight,” Oblad said. “We’ve been talking about this game ever since we heard we were going to be playing them. We were working hard, and tonight we executed.”