2019 FOX 7 Football Field Trip: Liberty Hill
LIBERTY HILL, Texas - Liberty Hill High School is a returning state finalist whose prolific offense is the gridiron's version of hide-and-seek.
It's a tradition that still thrives at Liberty Hill even though legendary and state title winning head coach Jerry Vance retired two years ago.
Quarterback Jacob Cearly says, "We just like to run around here ya know. We don't pass as much as the other teams but you know that's just what we do here."
"It's pretty awesome. We just get to carry on the tradition of the ground and pound like the old people used to do," says Ryley Rosenbusch, an offensive lineman.
But it's so much mer than just ground and pound. This relic from the game's past that the Panthers have stuck with and perfected is the Slot-T offense.
It's a now you see it, now you don't football shell game that can make opposing defenses look silly.
Liberty Hill's offense may be a throwback but it's just as lethal as the more trendy 7-on-7 style of offenses that can be seen everywhere else. That was especially true during Liberty Hill's run to last year's state championship game.
In 2018 the Panthers scored more than 40 points 11 times. Three of those times they scored in the 60s, once in the 70s and even once in the 80s.
Second year coach Jeff Walker, who was Vance's assistant for two state titles last decade, says it's nothing new.
"We're averaging about 51 points a game over the last 20 years here so we've scored a lot. It's not like other offenses where you can just spread someone out and throw a fade to them," Walker says. "We need all 11 on every snap. These kids have bought in to that."
It all paid off with a trip to the 4A Division I title game last year. This year's Panthers return only seven starters so living up to a top 5 preseason ranking and their own tradition might take awhile.
"I believe they have the ability to get us where we want to get. I think we're going to have to be patient with them and try not to win the state championship today," Walker says. "Getting to the top is probably easier than staying on top and we're aware of that. Our young men work to take care of the tradition."
So what do the experts think about Liberty Hill's chances for a state title? Thomas Jones and Rick Cantu with the Austin American-Statesman share their thoughts.