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2014 Liberty Football Capsule

LIBERTY

Head coach: Rich Muraco, sixth season (51-14)

2013 record: 10-4 (5-0 Southeast League, first)

Returning lettermen (starters): 30 (9 offense, 9 defense)

Base offensive set: Multiple

Base defensive set: 3-3-5

Top offensive players: RB Ethan Tuilagi (Sr.); RB Calvin Tubbs (Jr.); TE Noah Jefferson (Sr.); WR Ethan Dedeaux (So.); WR Brad Viloria (Sr.); RB/WR Bryan Roland (Jr.)

Top defensive players: DE/DT Noah Jefferson (Sr.); NT Josh Bernard-Lee (Sr.); NT John Groom (Sr.); DB Ethan Dedeaux (So.); DB Bryan Roland (Jr.); LB Ethan Tuilagi (Sr.)

Top special teams players: K Matt Blumberg (Jr.)

Top newcomers: QB Kenyon Oblad (Fr.); OT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (So.); QB Daylon Watts (Jr.); DB/LB Preston Pavlica (Sr.)

Key losses: QB Tyler Newman; DE Jarvis Polu

Outlook: The 2013 Sunrise Region champion Patriots lost Review-Journal state player of the year Newman, but return tons of experience in looking to make another postseason run.

Without Newman, who passed for 3,988 yards and 42 TDs, the Patriots may have to lean more on the running game this season.

Running backs Tuilagi (512 yards, 9 TDs) and Tubbs (400 yards, 9 TDs) were among the platoon of backs that shared carries last season, and should play bigger roles this year, especially if freshman Oblad wins the quarterback job.

The top two receivers graduated, but Viloria (22 catches, 520 yards) and the 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound Jefferson (25 catches, 462 yards) return to offer solid targets.

Bernard-Lee and Daniel Noone (6-1, 285) are returning starters on a massive offensive line that features a pair of 350-pounders.

The defense should be especially strong, with Jefferson, Bernard-Lee (5-11, 270) and Groom (6-2, 280) offering plenty of size up front.

Tuilagi (69 tackles) is the top returning tackler and leads an experienced group of linebackers, and Dedeaux is back to anchor the secondary after an outstanding freshman season where he had 66 tackles and four interceptions.

Without Newman the offense might not be as high-powered, but the Patriots have become an area power and should again contend for the region title.

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