ARGYLE — Over the final three weeks of the regular season, Liberty Christian played district games against Dallas Bishop Lynch, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic and Trinity Christian-Addison.
Starting today, the Warriors could be on their way to another three-game stretch involving those same teams as they meet TCA at Frisco’s Memorial Stadium at 3 p.m. in a second-round TAPPS playoff game.
Just four weeks ago, when Liberty quarterback Foster Ford’s final pass attempt was intercepted in the end zone, the Warriors (7-4) fell to TCA 42-35 in a pivotal district game. This time around, the loser won’t play again until August.
“I’ve been on both sides of this,” Liberty head coach Greg Price said of losing to a team before meeting it again in the postseason. “A lot of the times you have to go through two or three teams from your district over the course of the playoffs. You get to play chess again, basically. You get to see what you could’ve done differently the first time or what the other team will try to do different.”
Price hopes the offensive output from TCA (9-2) will be more favorable for his team today, as he has put the onus on his defense to better contain what many in Liberty’s program have called the best offense in the state.
In their previous meeting, TCA quarterback Daniel Davidson completed 20 of 27 pass attempts for 334 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Tanner Snow, who caught 13 passes for 174 yards. Running back Nahshon Ellerbe had 109 yards on 25 carries and scored twice.
So while Price said he needs his defense to step up, he also is looking for his offense to play some keep-away from the Trojans.
“They’re just so explosive and their quarterback is so calm under pressure,” Price said. “He delivers the ball so well and the kids catch so well, and when they’re on the sidelines they can’t do those things.
“What we want to do is keep them off the field and string some drives together, but we also want to score points. We’re not going to be so conservative that we can’t score.”
While the Trojans’ offense can hurt teams in many ways, the Warriors’ has proven the same thing over the past couple of weeks.
Two weeks ago in the regular-season finale, Ford went 15-for-23 for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-42 win over Bishop Lynch.
Last week in their playoff opener, the Warriors’ offensive focus shifted to the ground game as senior running back Camron Cornett rushed for 171 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, while Ford rushed for 95 yards and two scores.
“I’d say we’re pretty balanced,” Ford said. “We have explosive running backs that can bust any play open and also wide receivers that can go up and get a ball and make me look good.”
Price said having a quarterback like Ford can give opposing defenses headaches.
“We try to let you forget about him and then he burns you [on the ground],” Price said. “When you have the ability to throw it and hand it off to some good guys and then all the sudden you’re running with it, that’s tough to stop.”
When the Warriors’ offense is fully clicking, it could be said that only they can stop themselves — something they did in that first meeting with the Trojans.
That night, including Ford’s interception on the game’s last play, the Warriors turned the ball over three times and let a couple of possible interceptions of Davidson slip through their hands. In order to keep playing beyond today, that trend will have to be reversed.
“Last game came down to the last play, and I threw an interception in the end zone,” Ford said. “This game is going to be just like that. I’ll have to step up. We had three turnovers that night, and we can’t do that again. If we turn the ball over again, we’ll lose.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.