ARGYLE — Sanger head coach Chuck Galbreath and his staff knew there would be some growing pains experienced early in the 2012 season, especially on the offensive side of the football where the Indians are making the shift to a version of the run-based Wing-T after slinging the ball around for the past three years behind quarterback Dane Evans, who is now at Tulsa.
But in Friday night’s game against Liberty Christian, the Indians’ offense hit a new low as they managed only 118 total yards and eight first downs as Sanger committed four turnovers en route to a 38-6 Liberty Christian win at Bowles Stadium.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Galbreath said about the blowout loss. “We’re a young football team, and we’re a young football team that’s injured right now, and we’re a young football team that’s making too many mistakes right now.”
Sanger was doomed by turnovers from the beginning.
The second offensive play of the night was an attempted pitch from Sanger quarterback Wyatt Broxson, but it was swatted away by a penetrating Weldon Whittle and recovered by Morgan Engle to give the Warriors the ball at Sanger’s 21-yard line.
The Warriors needed only three plays to capitalize with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Foster Ford to Graham Richardson.
“Creating turnovers really gave us a chance to do some things offensively and take some chances early on,” Liberty Christian head coach Greg Price said. “Our kids really showed up to play tonight.”
The bad luck continued for the Indians (0-2), and Liberty made them pay.
After the Warriors (2-0) scored on a 32-yard catch-and-run by Hunter Griffith, Sanger fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Liberty the ball at the Sanger 22-yard line.
A holding penalty put the Warriors back and they were forced into a 49-yard field-goal attempt from kicker Mikeal Sroka that ended up short. But Sanger didn’t get out of the woods.
On the Indians’ first play of the ensuing drive, Derek Shelby was hit and had the ball popped loose after a 4-yard gain right into the arms of Liberty’s Christian Burks, who returned the fumble 41 yards to the end zone to send the Warriors to the halftime break with a 28-6 lead.
After last week’s 40-37 win over Springtown that came down to the final seconds, Price said he was happy to see his defense take control of Friday’s game early, and maintain its dominance throughout the night, holding Sanger to only 77 yards on the ground.
“Last week coming down to the wire like that, I was happy with how our defense played and giving us a short field and executing,” Price said. “They were in control of the game pretty early on.”
That short field Liberty’s defense provided for its offense was also a backbreaker to Sanger’s defense, which is being counted on to lead the Indians while they adjust to their new offensive system.
The Warriors put up 210 rushing yards using a bevy of runners and were led by senior Camron Cornett, who rushed for 63 yards on eight carries — all in the first half. Ford, who is the son of Sanger assistant coach Steve Ford, completed 8 of 19 passes for 79 yards, including two touchdown passes to Richardson and Hunter Griffith.
“Any time you put your defense back out there on a short field, at some point they’re gonna break down and begin to give up big plays, and that’s what happened,” Galbreath said. “We’ve seen that the last two weeks. Offensively, we have to help them by moving the football and giving them better opportunities to get off the field and play fewer plays and play on their end instead of on our end.”
The Warriors will face Celina next weekend, while Sanger will square off with rival Pilot Point, which is back in Class 2A after spending the past two seasons as district foes in District 9-3A.
“Our thought from Day 1 is we know it’s a 10-game season, and we have two really good opponents at the start,” Galbreath said. “We knew we’d need to get better and continue to do that every game, and our goal is when we hit our stride in district, we’ll be a whole better team than we are right now. That was our goal from Day 1, and that hasn’t changed any.”
Liberty Christian 38, Sanger 6
LC — Graham Richardson 4 pass from Foster Ford (Mikael Sroka kick), 10:06
LC — JonAaron Howell 7 run (Sroka kick), 1:57
S — Kyle Link 19 pass from Wyatt Broxson (kick failed), 4:19
LC — Hunter Griffith 32 pass from Ford (Sroka kick), 2:41
LC — Christian Burks 41 fumble return (Sroka kick), 1:50
LC — Sroka 27 field goal, 8:48
LC — Zechariah Liszewski 13 run (Sroka kick), 10:53
Rushing — S: Wyatt Broxson 12-26, Andrew Martinez 2-(-1), Kyle Link 5-23, Devin Teeters 6-23, Derek Shelby 11-32, Tanner Thomas 1-(-1), Brice Escobedo 1-5, Brandon Mann 2-(-5), Kion Evans 2-7, TEAM 2-(-32). LC: Camron Cornett 8-63, Zach Keller 6-34, Hunter Griffith 1-3, JonAaron Howell 4-16, Foster Ford 1-0, Hunter Muczko 1-0, Jett Miller 6-52, Jacob Springer 4-24, Connor Cox 1-(-2), Zechariah Liszewski 3-20.
Passing — S: Wyatt Broxson 4-5-0-41, Brandon Mann 0-1-0-0. LC: Foster Ford 8-19-1-79.
Receiving — S: Devin Teeters 1-6, Derek Shelby 1-8, Brennan Bloom 1-8, Kyle Link 1-19. LC – Graham Richardson 1-4, Hunter Griffth 3-56, Josiah Hartzler 1-2, Matt Tatum 2-7, Mitchell Rowsell 1-10.