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Next up for Liberty: Amherst

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Battle of two puzzling teams

By Mike Forster

 

Call it ticket-punch Friday.

Two teams on different playoff bubbles will seek to make the post-season dance with a win.  When the dust settles, either 4A-North's Amherst or 3A-West's Liberty will have earned that right.

The game, to be held at Minutemen Stadium, will feature two of the more puzzling teams in the Seminole District.

Liberty has three losses to its record.  Each of them could have been a win.  Each game was lost in the second half by either Minutemen mistakes or by an inability to come up with a big play.

In two of those losses (Brookville and Heritage), victory was snatched from the jaws of the Minutemen in the game's final seconds.

Amherst, meanwhile, seems to be on the every-other-week program.  Over the past six weeks, this is how the Lancers have fared:

-Lost to Lake Taylor, 41-10.

-Beat Rockbridge, 42-3.

-Lost to Heritage, 25-21.

-Beat JF, 49-28.

-Lost to Rustburg, 42-21.

-Beat E.C. Glass, 52-34.

Those three wins all came at home.  The three losses all came on the road.  So, that fact has to be working in Liberty's favor.

But, you'd be foolish to bank your hopes completely on whether the Lancers play on the road or at home.  It'll take more than being in the friendly confines of Minutemen Stadium for the M-Men to prevail.

"They're a fast, physical team," assessed Liberty's Coach Watts, of the Amherst crew.  "Against them, we have to scrap."

The other thing that Watts is seeking is boredom.  "We seem to be involved in exciting games," he noted.  

Indeed, the Minutemen's three losses have all been thrilling rides, at least from a fan's perspective.  There's no telling what those games have done to the coaching staff's ulcers.

The first thing the team will have to do to make the game less exciting is to shut down the Amherst passing attack.

D.A. Christian is a legitimate passing threat.  A pitcher on the Lancer baseball team, even his little swing passes have a whole lot of pepper on them.

The Liberty pass defense, however, has been the team's Achilles Heel for much of the season.  In all three of the Liberty losses, pretty good quarterbacks looked flat-out great.  At least they put up some significant stats.

Another thing Liberty will have to deal with is the Amherst speed in the backfield (especially Deandre Kyle), although the Minutemen did quite well against Buckingham County's speedsters.

The most critical thing, however, is that the Minutemen must not turn over the ball.  It killed them against Heritage and it will certainly kill them against Amherst.

Finally, Liberty's special teams had best come to play.  Amherst kick and punt returners are solidly proven.

Liberty's recent history with Amherst County has been less than stellar:  See box below.

Come Friday, however, the only history that will matter is that which is being made on the gridiron that evening.