By Scott Akanewich
As kickoff for the Liberty Hill football squad’s season-opener at home against Killeen Ellison tonight approaches, we thought it was a good time to point out the top 10 reasons we should be excited about the new Purple-and-Gold gridiron campaign. So, here we go…
1. Movin’ on up
This season marks the Panther debut as a Class 5A program after many years of success in Class 4A, which we hope can be carried over against bigger schools.
2. Rolling up the yards
After combining for 3,748 yards rushing and 40 touchdowns as juniors last season, senior running backs Trey Seward and Blake Simpson will be looking to post more spectacular numbers in the Panthers’ Slot-T offense.
3. New man at the controls
Senior quarterback Charlie Calabretta takes over under center for Liberty Hill this season after being a solid backup last season and more-than-capably stepping in for injured starter Jacob Cearley after the latter suffered an injury in the home opener.
4. Monster on defense
Andon Thomas led the Panthers’ defense last season with 121 tackles as only a sophomore and with the graduations of standouts Drake Oberpriller and Walker Baty he will need to step up even more this fall.
5. Shorter road trips
Being in a district with five Austin schools and Marble Falls means no more 160-mile round trips on dark, country roads to places like Canyon Lake anymore. Hooray!
6. Air attack?
Calabretta and backup signal-caller Will Szewczyk aired the ball out on several occasions during the Panthers’ scrimmage against New Braunfels Canyon, looking for and finding open receivers downfield. Might we see more as the season progresses?
7. Return of the Giant Panther
After an offseason in mothballs, the enormous, inflatable Panther mascot will be dusted off for the players to run through as they enter the field. No other school can match the big, black cat which welcomes opponents into battle.
8. Prowler is back!
Liberty Hill’s human-sized mascot will also be patrolling the sidelines, accompanied by the Panthers’ cheerleaders in helping boost the atmosphere under the Friday Night Lights.
9. Chance at redemption
After a very un-Liberty Hill-like season last year, the Panthers will be hungry to reestablish their dominance and make last fall a distant memory.
10. The games are back!
Just the fact we even have football on Friday nights this season after all is a blessing we should all be thankful for – and very excited about.