SBLive California is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Even with the season on hold, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California. Here’s an inside look at the Liberty Patriots of the CIF Central Section, the No. 29 team in our countdown.
LIBERTY HEAD COACH
Bryan Nixon, 8th season (65-22)
2019 AT A GLANCE
- 10-2 record
- 5-0 in Southwest Yosemite League (1st)
- Lost to Buchanan 27-0 in the Central Section Division 1 semifinals
ALL-CENTRAL SECTION DEPARTURES
- Ramon Henderson – WR/DB
- Dylan Tooker – LB
- Dylan Holmes – LB
- Sloan Simpson – DL/OL
- Garrett Trees – DL/OL
- Nathan Krauss – LB/WR
- Nathan Mariscal – LB
- Adrian Luquin – DL/OL
- Jan. 15 vs. Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 22 at Valencia, 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 29 vs. Buchanan, 7:30 p.m.
- Feb. 5 vs. Chaminade, 7 p.m.
- Feb. 19 vs. Garces Memorial, 7:30 p.m.
- Mar. 12 at Stockdale, 7:30 p.m.
- Mar. 19 at Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Haden Mann (Senior-QB) (6-2, 215)
2019 stats: 1,530 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, 408 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns
Prentice Boone (Senior-RB) (5-8, 170)
2019 stats: 982 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns, 10 catches, 147 receiving yards
Brady Anderson (Senior-LB) (San Diego State commit) (6-2, 225)
2019 stats: 53 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
Jason Oliver (Junior-DB/WR) (6-0, 160)
2019 stats: 16 catches, 336 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 25 tackles, 2 interceptions
Hunter Thorp (Senior-LB) (5-10, 190)
2019 stats: 45 tackles, 1 sack
Brayden Blevins (Senior-K) (5-9, 170)
2019 stats: 19 touchbacks, 10-15 FG, 40-41 PAT
- Xavier Campos – 2022 OL/DL from Ridgeview (Bakersfield)
HOW COVID-19 HAS IMPACTED LIBERTY FOOTBALL
COVID-19 has affected every high school football team differently. Senior linebacker Brady Anderson shares how COVID-19 has impacted Liberty football over the past few months:
“The past four weeks we’d been practicing but last week they told us it was the last day. We kind of saw it coming, but a lot of us have kept positive mindsets. Our head coach Nixon has been very positive throughout the whole thing, he always tells us ‘stay ready, be ready.’ That’s really been our mindset through this whole offseason.”
“The one good thing I’ve taken out of this offseason is just a chance to get better. Not having a season right now has given me eight months to prepare and get stronger, faster. Not having in-school learning really does suck but it allows me to train longer and harder than ever.”
“Throughout the whole offseason the team has really just gotten together and done our own thing without the coaches, so it was really good to see all the guys back and everyone was in pretty good shape. At Liberty we’re all pretty dedicated and we still have gyms open here. I was happy to see everyone working. It was looking good and I’m excited so hopefully we get a season because I think we’re all gonna ball out this season.”
BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR LIBERTY
Liberty has an experienced offensive group returning along with a strong defense that should make them a contender for the Central Section’s Division 1 Championship.
MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO
The Patriots have been dominant in league play during Bryan Nixon’s tenure. They’ve won 15 straight league games and are 33-2 over the past seven seasons, so advancing to the playoffs appears likely.
Come playoff time, matchups against the likes of Central (Fresno), Clovis, Bullard, and Buchanan will likely determine how far the Patriots can go.
“I think anybody in town could tell you that Liberty is known for having the best defense in town, the best linebackers in town,” said Brady Anderson. “There’s always been great names and great defensive players that have come out of Liberty, like Krys Barnes. We’re all really good at communicating and the coaches help us out a lot and I feel like we’re a really mature defense and we know how to run things. I’d also say our offense is really strong too, I think coach Nixon does a great job running the offense.”
“Win league, win playoffs and win state. Once we get into each game, it’s just win the game and win each day, that’s what I like to say and what coach (Nixon) likes to say. We don’t really worry about anyone for the next week, we just worry about that game week and that practice day and I feel like that helps and takes a lot of stress off of us.”
– Brady Anderson (Senior Linebacker)