Liberty falls short in defensive effort

Liberty’s Caden Dennis wraps up Javion Gathrite in a district opening game Friday, Nov. 1, in Kansas City.

KANSAS CITY — A defensive battle between Liberty and Park Hill ended with single digits on both sides of the scoreboard.

The scoring included a safety, a short touchdown run and a field goal. Otherwise, it was all defense.

In the end, seventh-seeded Liberty couldn’t quite pull of an upset against No. 2 Park Hill in an 8-3 loss in a Class 6 District 4 opener Friday, Nov. 1 at the Park Hill School District stadium.

With the loss, the Blue Jays’ season came to an end with a 4-6 record.

“It’s kind of the story of our season,” Liberty coach Chad Frigon said of the defeat. “We rushed for a lot of yards and weren’t able to get a lot of points, but our defense played really well.”

The Trojans, state-ranked No. 7, kept the Blue Jays out of the end zone, the fourth time they’ve done so against an opponent this season. They blanked Blue Springs in the regular-season finale the week prior.

Liberty’s defense was also strong, holding Park Hill to one touchdown and 173 total yards. The Blue Jays were held to 139 yards.

“They had a great night and really shut them down,” Frigon said. “(Park Hill) does a good job. Jalen Weston had 16 or 17 tackles from that inside linebacker position and had a great game.”

The Trojans won the turnover battle, coming up with two fumbles and an interception compared to Liberty’s one fumble recovery.

Park Hill corralled Caden Dennis in the end zone for a safety for a 2-0 lead with 10:34 left in the second quarter. Javion Gathrite scored on a two-yard run to extend the lead to 8-0 with 1:20 left before halftime.

Kaden Rottjakob knocked through a 26-yard field goal for the Blue Jays’ lone points with 10:48 left in the contest.

Wentric Williams III rushed for 98 yards on 24 attempts, and Jackson Corf was 4-of-14 for 14 yards passing.

“We felt like we had a good push up front,” Frigon said.

“We had the ball probably three times in the red zone and made a field goal on one and had a bad snap on another field goal earlier in the game. And then we had another time when we threw an interception, so those are some of the things that hurt us all year offensively. It hurt us again last night.”

Frigon was appreciative of his senior class.

“They won 19 or 20 games in three years and have been a part of some special things,” he said. “All in all, they’re a group that played really well together.

“They battled all the way to the last snap.”

Sports Editor Adam Burns can be reached at adam.burns@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6643.

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