2015 Liberty Football Preview

2015 Liberty Football Preview
Head Coach: Chet Allen, 1st season (0-0)
2014 Record: 10-2 (7-0), AAC National
5-Year Winning Percentage: 49.1%
Division/Region: 5/15

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2014 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 253.8
Passing Offense: 79.5
Total Offense: 333.3
Scoring Offense: 36.6 (4th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 17.3 (16th in Area)

2014 Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Lynn Bowden – 1943 yards, 9.6 ypc, 25 TDs
Passing: Lynn Bowden – 889 yards, 47.8%, 14 TDs
Receiving: Ben Phillips – 22 catches, 452 yards, 8 TDs
Tackles: JaShaun Whitman – 57
QB Sacks: JaShaun Whitman – 8.0
Interceptions: Ben Phillips – 5

2015 Schedule
Aug. 28 – Struthers, 7
Sept. 4 – at Lakeview, 7
Sept. 11 – East, 7
Sept. 18 – at Brookfield, 7
Sept. 25 – Campbell, 7
Oct. 2 – at LaBrae, 7
Oct. 9 – Champion, 7
Oct. 16 – at Jefferson, 7
Oct. 23 – Newton Falls, 7
Oct. 30 – at Girard, 7

Key Losses: The Leopards graduated WR/DB Ben Phillips, RB/LB Alex Carnathan, LB Isaiah McKnight OL/DL Greg Marsh and OL Abdel Yusef. Phillips, a transfer from Ursuline, was voted to the First-Team All-District following a senior campaign which saw #3 gain 441 yards rushing (6.8 ypc), haul in 22 passes for 452 yards (13 total offensive touchdowns) and have 5 interceptions. Carnathan closed out his prep career with 18 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks and 51 defensive stops. Alex also scored 4 rushing touchdowns on 33 attempts (200 yards). McKnight had 33 solo tackles and a quarterback takedown. The defense received major contributions from Greg Marsh, who finished with 38 tackles and 2 sacks. Yusef received honorable mention through the Northeast Inland District for his play along the offensive line.  RB/LB Brandon Rios, who bulldozed his way to 7 rushing touchdowns (338 yards) and 33 tackles on defense (8.5 TFL).  Maybe the biggest loss was when junior Lynn Bowden left Liberty following another dazzling season which saw him amass 1943 yards on the ground and 889 stripes through the air as he was involved in 39 offensive touchdowns (25 rushing, 14 passing). Bowden also handled most of the punting duties where he booted a 38.5 average on 21 kicks (9 of which were inside the 20-yard line).

Key Returnees:  Senior JaShaun Whitman led the Leopards in tackles (57), quarterback sacks (8.0) and finished second in tackles for a loss (10). Whitman snagged 16 passes for 375 yards (4 TDs) while leading the team in yards per catch (23.4). Kaylon Davis and Arwan Clinkscale both return to a defense which closed out 2014 with 31 sacks and 14 interceptions. Davis had 46 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries. Clinkscale had 36 tackles, 5 of which were for a loss.

Key Storyline: Seventeen wins in his first two seasons was a feat that no other coach in school history was able to accomplish. However, Kevin Cylar’s contract was not renewed. How will the Leopards respond in 2015? This is a group which has advanced to the post-season in each of the last three years. On May 18, the school board approved the hiring of Chet Allen to the varsity football coach position. Allen, a Liberty graduate, served as a football manager prior to attending high school from 1988-91. He brings eighteen years of experience to the position which includes stops at Liberty, Girard, Warren Harding, Newton Falls and Niles.

Strengths: Without coach Cylar and a few key contributors, the talent is still alive and well at Leopard Stadium. This year’s edition has the ability to seek out success in the first ten weeks of the season once again. Over the past three years, the Leopards have played in five post-season contests. That’s nice pedigree.

Weaknesses: There’s a hole on defense up front where Greg Marsh, Alex Carnathan and Isaiah McKnight once stood. In the secondary, who will replace the ball hawking skills that Ben Phillips possessed from last year’s group? Obviously, the offense will regress after the departure of Bowden and others.

Game to Watch: August 28 vs. Struthers
…After a tumultuous off-season, the Leopards just can’t wait to get back onto the football field when they meet Struthers at home in week one. Allen will make his debut as his alma mater’s head coach in front of the hometown crowd at Leopard Stadium.

New AAC Blue Division
Brookfield
Campbell
Champion
Girard
LaBrae
Liberty
Newton Falls

Odds and Ends
1000-yard Rushers since 2012
2014: Lynn Bowden, 1943
2013: Lynn Bowden, 1427*
2012: Sherron Walls, 1866

3-interception season since 2009
2014: Ben Phillips, 5
2014: Lynn Bowden & Dre Rushton, 3
2013: Asim Pleas, 3
2012: Asim Pleas & Danny Markulin, 4
2011: Frank Bond, 3
2009: Antonio Kinard, 3
*-Regular Season Statistics

Recent League Finishes
2014: 1st AAC National (7-0)
2013: T-1st AAC National (6-1)
2012: 1st AAC National (6-1)
2011: 4th AAC White (0-3)
2010: 5th AAC White (0-4)

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