Glassmen to visit Liberty this Friday

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Either team can lock in playoff berth with win

By Mike Forster

  Step right up for your last chance to catch the Liberty football squad on its home turf...at least in a regular season game:  It is quite possible for the M-Men to open the playoffs at home.

Certainly a win on Friday night would help Liberty's chances at a post-season bid.  The question is:  Will E.C. Glass be accommodating?

Well, the Glaziers have had two weeks to get ready for Liberty.  While the Minutemen were slugging it out on the fields of Forest last Friday, Glass players and coaches were watching, courtesy of a mid-season bye for the Toppers.

Additionally, Glass will be hungry for a win over Liberty.  They will have the hunger of a desperate animal.  That's because this game is, quite simply, a do-or-die affair for the Glaziers.

"They've got a week off and they want to win to get into the playoffs," assessed Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts.

A look at the Region III, Division 4 playoff standings (at left), shows that Glass is in pretty good shape.  The Glaziers sit in fourth place, with what appears to be a comfortable lead.

Do not be deceived.  After its game with Liberty, Glass has Amherst before a return engagement with Heritage.  That's a tough hill to climb.

By the way, Glass lost its first meeting with Heritage, 32-7, in a game that didn't count toward district standings (but certainly counted toward playoff points).

We suspect, should Glass drop its next three games, that a team such as Harrisonburg will bump the Toppers from the playoff picture.

Last year, the Glaziers decimated Liberty, 49-19.  Might they be dreaming of repeating that outcome?  Not if they paid attention last Friday night.  The team that just topped JF is far from last year's crew.

Glass, meanwhile, opened its season in fairly impressive fashion, posting a 4-1 record before running into buzz saws against Brookville (56-6) and JF (42-6).  Given those anemic offensive outputs, it is very possible that the Glass coaching college, headed up by Ben Martin, used its two-week break to revamp its offense.

If they've merely tweaked the offense, look for the Glaziers to run a triple option out of the shotgun.  Josh Sessoms has been the signal caller.  Sessoms has rushed for 373 yards while halfback Donnie Morgan has picked up 441 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

Sessoms has a fair-to-middlin' arm, having thrown 35 completions on 107 attempts for 600 yards and six scores.

Glass has some size that Liberty linemen will have to move on offense and avoid on defense.  Daniel Newland (6'4", 272) and James Jones (6'4", 300) are primary threats in this department.

Watch for Liberty to be swayed by none of this.  Coach Watts likes to build his game plans based on where his players talents, skills are found.  Even if the Liberty air attack against JF seemed uncharacteristic, it was only unleashed after the offense had earned Watts' complete confidence.

Against Glass, a team that has yielded an average of 30 points per game, there's a prime opportunity for the Liberty offense to inflict some damage.

Against Glass, a team that has loads of speed and the ability to disrupt, there's also a prime opportunity for Liberty to shoot itself in the foot with turnovers.

Conjecture aside, it all comes down to this:  the winner gets a playoff berth.

"(Glass) will come ready to play," noted Watts.  

Then he added, "So will we."