The Liberty North football team transformed an uneven regular season into the most successful playoff run in school history last year. The Eagles’ journey to the Missouri Class 4 semifinals last November came as a surprise — even to some within the program — after they took only a 5-4 record into the postseason.
There will be no surprises this year.
As it moves up to Class 5, Liberty North welcomes back 11 starters from its semifinal loss to Helias last season.
“I don’t think there’s much that’s unknown to these kids now,” Liberty North coach Ken Clemens said. “I’m hoping to not see the deer in headlights look you get every now and then, because these kids have that experience. I’m hopeful they’ve learned what they are capable of doing.”
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The returning personnel lends credibility to that thought. Senior Brian Sharp will take the snaps behind center for the third straight season. Sharp, noted for his quick release, threw for 1,975 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013.
“We’re going to put a lot on his shoulders,” Clemens said. “He’s got that great arm that I think is unmatched. As far as his football savvy, he’s got a lot more in the tank for this season.”
The defensive strength will lie in the secondary. KiAndre Pugh and Austin Oard combined to intercept 17 passes last year. Linebacker Sal Silvio returns as the school’s all-time leading tackler.
The defensive line, which will welcome some new additions, will play a pivotal role in the team’s success, Clemens said.
“We want to be able to get pressure with only our front four,” Clemens said. “That was probably the biggest deference in our defense over the last six or seven games.”