The moment last season ended for Liberty Christian, a hole at perhaps the most important position on the field instantly opened up. Finding a replacement for a departing senior quarterback became priority No. 1 for the Warriors.
But fourth-year head coach Greg Price never fretted over who would be his starting signal caller this season.
From the time off-season preparation started, Price, his coaching staff and his returning players all knew that Foster Ford would be handed the reins to the Warriors’ offense. Though Ford hasn’t played a series at quarterback in a game — contributing last year to Liberty Christian’s 6-5 season mainly as a receiver — he has the confidence of those around him that he’s ready to take over the job.
“It was never a question of who our quarterback was going to be,” Price said. “He’s stepped up very comfortably. I think he has the confidence of all the kids. And his ability to do things with his feet is what’s going to make him really dangerous.
“He can throw the ball well, but he’s going to be very dangerous with his feet. He’s fast and has the ability to make the quick move and get into the secondary.”
The 6-1, 195-pound senior is the son of a high school football coach. Ford took practice reps at the position all last year as the Warriors’ backup quarterback behind Josh Cousins. He spent the off-season building up his strength and working out with his group of receivers, so he’s excited about his move to quarterback.
“I think we’ve got good chemistry as a team,” Ford said. “We’ve got speed and we’ve got some big guys. I think we’ve got a good chance to be real good this year.”
The Warriors return six starters on offense, led by senior running backs Camron Cornett and Dylan Sprock. Up front, massive junior lineman Brad Lundblade (6-3, 280) anchors the offensive line along with veterans Jake Newman and Micah Stateson.
When Liberty opts to pass the ball, a good group of receivers will be led by Graham Richardson and Hunter Griffith.
“Our offense looks almost completely different from last year and it’s improved greatly,” Richardson said. “We’ve been stretching it downfield, more than usual, and we can get to the outside quickly with our running backs.”
Liberty has all four of its starters back in the secondary to lead a defense with seven starters returning overall. Richardson and Christian Burks, both seniors, head a defensive backfield that is experienced and possesses plenty of speed and quickness.
In fact, it is the Warriors’ overall team speed that Price believes can be used to their advantage this season. Liberty Christian won a state championship in track last spring and now Price gets to utilize that speed on his team.
“We have a lot of team speed and it’s very obvious out on the field,” Price said. “I think it’s going to be one of the things that gives us a chance to be successful.”
To reach the playoffs the Warriors will have to survive perhaps the toughest TAPPS district in the state. Defending state champion Fort Worth Nolan comes from the same District 1 and has appeared in the last four state title games.
“Most likely, if you’re going to win a state championship, you’re going to play two opponents from our district in the latter rounds of the playoffs,” said Price. “A lot of schools in our district will make the playoffs and we intend to be one of them.”
District: TAPPS Division 1-1
2011 record: 6-5 (3-3 in District 1)
Coach: Greg Price (25-12 in three seasons at Liberty)
Returning starters: 6 on offense, 7 on defense
Key players: OL Brad Lundblade, RB Camron Cornett, RB Dylan Sprock, WR/DB Graham Richardson, QB/DB Foster Ford, WR/DB Christian Burks, OL/DL Hunter Reece
School enrollment: 464
Stadium: Bowles Stadium
Keys to a historic season
Avoid Long-Term Injuries
With many of his athletes playing both offense and defense, Warriors coach Greg Price’s first priority is keeping his players healthy. He’s excited about a season that potentially can extend deep into the playoffs and he’ll need his best players healthy for a long run in the postseason. “That’s a key to every team,” Price said. “For every team that goes deep into the playoffs or has a chance to win a state championship, staying healthy is a goal for every one of them.”
A roster stocked with 19 returning letterwinners who are now juniors and seniors means the Warriors have a large group of players who have played together long enough to bond as friends, players and cohesive units on the football field. “The senior class genuinely enjoys playing with each other,” Price said. “They’re a tight group. So playing together will be a big part of it.”
Force Opponents to throw
Price looks at his district, which includes defending state champion Fort Worth Nolan, and sees several explosive offenses based mostly around strong running attacks. The head coach hopes his defense can slow down those ground games and force opponents to pass since the Warriors’ defensive strength appears to be an experienced, speedy secondary. “I feel very confident in our secondary. They can cover anybody,” he said. “We’ve got to take away the run and force teams to pass. If we can do that, I think we can make big plays and come up with turnovers.”
Have OL Dominate
Size and experience mark the Warriors’ offensive line, which could be the key to Liberty Christian having success moving the ball this season. Junior Brad Lundblade (6-3, 280) is already drawing attention from Division I colleges and he’ll be joined by seniors Jake Newman and Micah Stateson as the anchors up front. Price calls his offensive line “the most important unit on our offense,” and said it will be relied upon to dominate the line of scrimmage.