Liberty Center is thinking playoffs again with 15 starters back

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Liberty Center Tigers

A young team in 2007, Liberty Center was thought by some to be a year away. But the Tigers performed better than expected, notching seven victories and a postseason appearance. This year’s team brings back an impressive amount of players, boasting 15 returning starters (eight offense, seven defense) and 18 seniors.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB Pat Brown (6-3, 185, sr.), RB Jake Elling (5-11, 190, jr.), LB/OL Allen Sharp (6-1, 210, jr.), OT/DT Andrew Schwab (5-10, 245, sr.), WB Damian Mayes (5-10, 165, sr.)

SEASON OUTLOOK

A young team in 2007, Liberty Center was thought by some to be a year away. But the Tigers performed better than expected, notching seven victories and a postseason appearance.

“Overall, we played fairly well,” head coach Rex Lingruen said. “We had a good group of seniors, but it was a small group of seniors. We only had eight senior boys. They gave all they could, and for what we had, I thought we overachieved and had a nice job.”

The Tigers tailed off a bit towards the end of the 2007 campaign, but Lingruen feels the experience will help the team reach their potential this season.

“We kind of backed into the playoffs,” Lingruen said. “We lost our last three games – our last two games and then the playoff game. The good thing is you got an extra week of practice, which always helps. We just had a very disappointing performance in the playoff game. We were banged up a little bit at that time; we weren’t that healthy, and we had one kid that got hurt in the very first play of the game that would have started for us. That hurt us too. But it gave us that extra week, and I think we’re a little bit hungrier this year.”

This year’s team brings back an impressive amount of players, boasting 15 returning starters (eight offense, seven defense) and 18 seniors.

“It could be pretty promising,” Lingruen said. “Most of our line returns, and most of our backfield returns also, so offensively we hope to be a little more explosive. Defensively, we’re returning most everybody, so we’re pretty optimistic.”

Experience aside, Lingruen feels his team will have to make improvements in some key areas.

“I’m hoping we’re going to be able to run the ball better,” he said. “Last year, we weren’t really able to run the ball and establish an offensive flow, and that’s what we try to do mainly is run the ball. We’re going to have some nice receivers this year too, so offensively I think we’re going to be able to spread defenses out a little bit more this year.

“Our offensive line definitely has to block better. Hopefully, with most everybody back, we expect them to be able to perform better than that, so hopefully we can control the line of scrimmage and just get off the ball. I think we’re going to have decent team speed, and like I said I think we’ll be a lot more aggressive.”

Liberty Center will face a tough road schedule-wise, including an opener against what could be one of Region 18’s best teams.

“Our opening game is with Tinora, which won a playoff game last year,” Lingruen said. “That’ll be a real big test for us right off the bat. I know they’ve got just about everybody back. We’re definitely going to be tested in that first week. We’ve got a couple games in there that should be pretty solid. Overall, I think our like our league’s going to be pretty solid.”

Liberty Center comes into the 2008 season with plenty of expectations. Will they be able to deliver?

“We have a large senior class, and a lot of these people in the community have expected a lot out of this class,” Lingruen said. “Now they’re going to have to step up and perform. We’ve have some kids that have been working extremely hard, and we’ve got some others who really haven’t done much at all, so that’s a little disappointing. And then we’re having a couple that are fighting some grades, too. Eligibility could affect us too coming into next year. Hopefully, these things will work out, but really we won’t know until we get into the fall.”

SCHEDULE

8/22 Defiance Tinora

8/29 at Montpelier

9/5 Metamora Evergreen

9/12 at Hamler Patrick Henry

9/19 Wauseon

9/26 at Swanton

10/3 Oregon Cardinal Stritch

10/10 Bryan

10/17 Archbold

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