Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty defensive lineman Adam Pearce makes the tackle against a Coalinga ball carrier during Friday’s scrimmage.
After three weeks of hitting each other, the Liberty Hawks football team hit somebody else to get ready for the upcoming football season.
In their annual scrimmage against Coalinga, the Hawks used the running game to score two touchdown drives against the Horned Toads’ first string defense, which helped head coach Mike Nolte watched his team step up against an opponent.
“I think going in, we had a lot of questions that we needed answered,” Nolte said. “Our team answered most of them. I thought it was a very good scrimmage on both sides. They had some size on us and played very aggressive. Our kids needed to see something like that. I was happy with the way it went tonight.”
Kaleb Roth carried a majority of the offense and was helped by his brother Wyatt and fullback Ryan Workman up the middle.
“Our running backs are real strong kids,” Nolte said. “We’re going to lean on them quite a bit. I wish we had more depth.”
However, those gains would not have been open unless the play of the offensive line got better. That was one of the biggest offensive questions Nolte had heading into the scrimmage, but Nolte was impressed with how his lineman reacted and adjusted.
“On offense, I wanted to see how our offensive line was going to come together and handle how they were able to play against us. For the most part, we did alright. I think there’s some things we need to fix and make our kids more aware of. They exposed some of that tonight. They lined up a little different than they were expecting. We adjusted and I’m happy our kids didn’t go brain dead and adjust to their different looks.”
The Liberty first-string defense stopped Coalinga in the first session, keyed by a quarterback sack. On the second drive, three big Coalinga penalties helped the Horned Toads score a touchdown.
Despite those breakdowns, Nolte was happy with how his defense responded against the power running attack of the Horned Toads.
“Defensively, I wanted to see how our defensive line was going to play and see how aggressive they were going to be,” Nolte said. “Nick Hayes is going to be the leader as the returning starter on that line. The other kids stepped up well tonight. They were more aggressive than I thought they were going to be. I have a lot of confidence in the linebackers tonight. I don’t know they challenged our corners as much as they will be challenged so there is a question there. I thought we ran to the ball well and we played pretty physical.”
The Hawks open the season Friday at Firebaugh and follows at Mendota the next week.