Patriots overcome rocky start

October 9, 2011

By Christina Lords

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Nothing can stop senior wide receiver Joshua Gordon of Liberty on this 22-yard gain, even losing a shoe to Sammamish tackler Joey Sullivan. By Greg Farrar

After a rocky 2-3 start and a tough opening schedule in the season, Liberty High School coach Steve Valach is honing in on clean, focused football to get the Patriots’ season back on course.

“We’re not where we expected to be, and it is what it is,” he said. “But we really focus on the fact that we can’t worry about the last game, the last practice. What we’re focusing on is getting better today.”

The Patriots endured back-to-back losses to start the season against district rivals Skyline and Issaquah, 62-27 and 23-13, respectively.

“Not to take anything away from our opponents, but in football we say you lose more games than you get beat,” Valach said. “For us, I think that’s the case here.”

The Spartans and the Eagles are ranked among the state’s top 4A teams.

“When you’re playing good football teams, there’s just not a lot of margin for error,” he said. “When you’re both good football teams, whoever makes less mistakes is the team that is going to win.”

But the Patriots rallied in a big way Sept. 16, winning their first home football game of the season, 54-7, against the visiting Sammamish Totems.

Liberty senior quarterback Jordan West completed 16 of 23 passes for 304 total yards and two touchdowns on the night against the Totems.

The Patriots would go on to lose in overtime during a heartbreaker against Mount Si on Sept. 23 in Snoqualmie.

In overtime, Wildcat kicker Cameron Vanwinkle nailed a 35-yard field goal, while his Patriot counterpart Josh Johnson missed a 35-yard attempt, giving Mount Si the victory, 16-13.

Liberty would go on to defeat Juanita High School 16-14 on Sept. 30 with two rushing touchdowns from senior running back Tei Staladi and a field goal knocked between the posts from Johnson.

“We are going to continue to pay attention to detail and continue to not allow our record to define us,” Valach said. “I really believe that right now we could be 3-1 and not 1-3. We can’t forget that.”

Valach said the Patriots must turn the ball over less and watch unnecessary penalties as it looks to the rest of its season against conference opponents.

“My thought is own up to mistakes you’ve made, but don’t let the mistakes own you,” he said.

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