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Homecoming is usually scheduled against an opponent that you have reasonable faith you can defeat. Then, the after-game dance has more of a festive mood.
This Friday evening, we'll find out whether the Liberty homecoming committee guessed correctly in scheduling Heritage as the event's foe.
On the one hand, the Pioneers (1-1 District, 2-4 overall) are riding a four-game losing streak, their last victory coming over Magna Vista in the season's second week.
On the other hand, Heritage is riding a two game winning streak over the Minutemen, including last season's 35-0 dismantling at City Stadium.
In fact, Liberty hasn't scored a point against the Pioneers in those two games.
This century, the series stands at 5-4, in favor of Liberty.
Liberty, for its part, is riding high at 4-1, looking to build momentum for the more challenging portion of the schedule. After Heritage, the Minutemen face Brookville, Amherst, Rustburg and JF to wrap up the regular season.
A win over Heritage should lock in a playoff berth for Liberty, given that 6 of the 12 Division 3 entrants will be so honored. Coach Watts has made it abundantly clear that sneaking into the playoffs with five wins is not his definition of success.
But, first things first. Heritage is no guaranteed win, and the Minutemen would be sorely remiss to take them for granted.
Some things to look for in this contest:
-They will work on grinding it out. Liberty still needs to prove that its ground game is for real. Forest, which had a hard time sustaining drives against Heritage, has a proven ground game. This is an excellent opportunity for the Minutemen to get it together on the ground attack.
-Heritage has two solid quarterbacks. O'Shawn Bryant is quick and elusive, favoring his use on the ground attack. James Womack is big with a strong arm. Look for him should the Pioneers opt for the passing attack.
-Given the strength of the Liberty defensive backfield, it is likely that Heritage will initially stick to its running game.
-Heritage Head Coach Chris Jones is notorious for inserting some trickery into his offensive schemes. Look for at least one trick play.
-Coach Watts seems to be getting more comfortable with Tyler Bowyer at quarterback. That has enabled him to let Kordero Thompson (wide out) and Anthony Reynolds (virtually any position) focus on other things.
-Both teams' offensive lines are relatively undersized. Neither can bear the name of inexperienced anymore, however.
-The Heritage running backs are a hard-charging bunch. Should you opt for the arm tackle, you'll certainly wind up with a handful of air.
-Keep an eye on #27 (Antoine Eubanks), a tough, hard-hitting linebacker.