Youthful Highlanders eye league title

August 30, 2013

The Hazen High School varsity football team breaks from its rally huddle Aug. 22 at the end of afternoon practice.

The Hazen High School varsity football team breaks from its rally huddle Aug. 22 at the end of afternoon practice.

The Hazen High School football team’s 2012 season was a mostly up-and-down affair, resulting in a 5-5 record, but the team put together one of their most complete efforts in the final playoff loss to Ferndale.

The Highlanders are trying to capture that moment in a bottle for 2013, building on the positives that came with that game, Hazen head coach Drew Oliver said.

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Patriots aim to reclaim tradition

August 30, 2013

No one was unluckier than the Liberty Patriots football team last year. An already thin-in-numbers squad was hit with injury after injury in 2012.

As the injuries piled up, so too did the losses in a tough KingCo 3A/2A Conference, on the way to a 3-7 record.

Luckily, things are already looking up for the Patriots as they prepare for the 2013 campaign with a much larger turnout than last year, which should help with depth, longtime Liberty coach Steve Valach said.

Greg Farrar Nate Solly, Liberty High School sophomore quarterback, kicks footballs Aug. 23 during a Patriot team practice.

Greg Farrar
Nate Solly, Liberty High School sophomore quarterback, kicks footballs Aug. 23 during a Patriot team practice.

“We have about 25 more kids than last year,” he said.

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Bulldogs JC football preps for inaugural season

August 30, 2013

For most high school football athletes, their career on the gridiron ends when the last of the Friday night lights flicker to darkness.

Some go on to play the sport at the collegiate level and beyond, but that isn’t an option for the majority. The itch to get on the field, tackle an opponent and be a part of a unique brotherhood is not easily tossed aside, though.

Greg Farrar Dalton Darlington (right), Liberty High School graduate and defensive lineman/linebacker, blocks an offensive lineman Aug. 6 during a Bellevue Bulldogs practice.

Greg Farrar
Dalton Darlington (right), Liberty High School graduate and defensive lineman/linebacker, blocks an offensive lineman Aug. 6 during a Bellevue Bulldogs practice.

The Bellevue Bulldogs junior college football team hopes to provide the relief to that itch, and encourage athletes to remain in school while continuing their career.

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Hazen, Liberty athletes selected for all-league teams

November 8, 2012

UPDATED — 3:25 p.m. Nov. 16, 2012

As the fall sports season comes to a close, athletes from Hazen and Liberty high schools are being honored for their athletic achievements as all-league teams are announced. Players and coaches select all-league teams annually. Email additional all-league honors to newcastle@isspress.com.

Hazen boys tennis

The following Hazen High School tennis players were named to the Seamount League all-league team:

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Hazen notches win streak just in time for playoffs

November 1, 2012

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Hazen High School football team, but the Highlanders seem to be hitting their stride just in time for the playoffs.

The team has won three of its last four games, ending the regular season with a 5-4 record, after a slow, 2-3 start to the season.

By Rob Nichols
Hazen High School quarterback Tony Nipert gets solid protection from his offensive line as he drops back to pass against Evergreen on Oct. 4 at Renton Memorial Stadium. The Highlanders beat Evergreen, 48-6.

“The whole season has been kind of a roller coaster,” Hazen coach Drew Oliver said. “There’s really only been one game that we haven’t been close. I think that the second half of the season has been more of what we wanted.”

The Highlanders began the second half of the season Oct. 4 with a 48-6 win against Evergreen. The team flourished behind a strong performance from Jordan Abdullah, who rushed for two touchdowns and more than 100 yards.

Hazen then fell to Bainbridge, 21-20, on Oct. 11. The Highlanders led Bainbridge 14-7 at halftime, but couldn’t hang on against the nonconference foe.

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Liberty remains a team while facing adversity

November 1, 2012

The Liberty High School football team went into the season believing in the acronym TEAM — together everyone achieves more.

It was the motto that drove and motivated a young, thin-in-numbers Patriots squad.

By Greg Farrar
Tynan Gilmore, Liberty High School senior quarterback, drags Mount Si senior defensive back Jimbo Davis into the end zone with his fourth-quarter punt return, as Patriot coaches on the sideline jump and raise their hands to celebrate his touchdown effort.

And even though the team finished its season with a 3-6 record and won’t be going to the playoffs, the acronym was truer than the team could have ever imagined.

“They picked as their motto, the acronym TEAM, and it’s really a cliché because everyone uses it,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “But the team really stood behind it and that’s who we are. We are going to be a team.”

The 2012 Patriots faced adversity throughout the season. Liberty was plagued by injuries, a tough predicament for an already small squad. While it didn’t translate to wins for the Patriots, it did bring the team together, Valach said.

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Injuries plague the Patriots after stumbling out of the gate

October 4, 2012

By Scott Coburn
Robbie Thomas, Liberty High School senior quarterback, drops back to pass during Liberty’s 25-22 victory over Hazen High School on Sept. 7.

After a rocky 2-3 start to the season, Liberty High School coach Steve Valach said his team needs to focus on taking care of the football and staying healthy, with just four games left in the regular season.

The Patriots opened their season with a 41-14 loss to a talented Eastside Catholic team.

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Highlanders at a ‘crossroads’ after disappointing start

October 4, 2012

After a strong 2011 season, expectations were high for the Hazen High School football team, which is why the team’s 2-3 start is a bit frustrating for Hazen coach Drew Oliver.

“We’re kind of at a crossroads here in the season and we’ll see how we respond in the second half,” he said.

In its season opener, Hazen had a come-from-behind victory, defeating Franklin Pierce, 37-28, behind a strong performance from running back Mason Jacobs, who scored three touchdowns.

By Scott Coburn
Kyle Nelson, Hazen High School senior wide receiver, runs for a 64-yard touchdown Sept. 21 during the fourth quarter against Lindbergh.

Hazen started out slow for the second straight week, but picked it up in the fourth quarter, when they took on Liberty. This time, it wasn’t enough to overcome the slow start and the Highlanders lost, 25-22.

Oliver said he was happy with Hazen’s effort, but added that his team was disappointed by the close loss.

“I’m very proud of my team as far as effort is concerned,” he said. “I’m not happy on the scoreboard and the team isn’t either. I told those guys that we are past moral victories in our program, and three years ago that would have been a moral victory for us.”

But on Sept. 14, the Highlanders bounced back with a 50-21 victory against Highline in its Seamount Conference opener.

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Liberty narrowly defeats Hazen in football showdown

September 10, 2012

By Scott Coburn
The captains for Liberty and Hazen meet at midfield for the opening coin toss in the Sept. 7 contest between the two Renton schools. Liberty defeated Hazen 25-22.

NEW — 5:55 p.m. Sept. 10, 2012

It was the battle of Renton last Friday as the Liberty Patriots hosted the Hazen Highlanders in a high school football contest. Read more

It’s ‘team first’ as Patriots look to bounce back from 2011

September 6, 2012

By Greg Farrar
The Liberty High School football team and their coach Steve Valach (center) gather in an all-for-one, one-for-all huddle before their Aug. 22 practice drills. See a slideshow photos at www.newcastle-news.com.

After a disappointing 2011 season, the Liberty High School Patriots are looking toward each other to get the team back to its winning ways in 2012.

TEAM, which stands for together everyone achieves more, is the motto motivating a young Patriots squad in coach Steve Valach’s 14th year at the helm.

“There’s good energy with this group,” Valach said. “I like their chemistry and they’re working hard. They are really into that idea of playing together and no one is bigger than the team.”

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