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Friday night rewind: Liberty looks to learn from loss to Mater Dei

One of the most important things a team can do is test itself against quality competition during nonleague play.

Two years ago, Liberty went 0-5 against a stacked schedule of out-of-state opponents. But the Patriots learned from those defeats, made the necessary changes and won their final 10 games and first state championship.

Because of COVID-19, teams such as Liberty that traditionally play out-of-state opponents have had limited chances to do so. Bishop Gorman is the only team that has yet to play an in-state foe, and that’s only because its scheduled game against Bishop Manogue was canceled by wildfires in Northern Nevada.

Liberty played three in-state teams to start the season and had a relatively easy time in all three, defeating Arbor View, Canyon Springs and Foothill by a combined 126-20.

The Patriots finally got their game against an out-of-state opponent Friday at the Polynesian Classic at Bishop Gorman, and it turned into a 49-7 loss to Mater Dei (California), the No. 1-ranked team in the nation by USA Today.

Liberty scored in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7, but it was all Monarchs after that. The second half was played with a running clock, as Mater Dei led 42-7 at halftime.

Liberty coach Rich Muraco wasn’t always pleased with his team’s execution in the first three games despite the wins. He hopes Friday’s loss will be the eye-opening experience the Patriots needed.

“I think sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from beating a team even though you beat a team and you play bad,” Muraco said.

Liberty learned from its losses two years ago. Time will tell what it takes from this one.

Another late night in Class 3A

Last week, transportation issues forced Boulder City to arrive late for a game against Moapa Valley.

On Friday, the bus taking Virgin Valley to Pahrump Valley blew a tire, forcing a 90-minute delay to the start.

Unlike Boulder City, which never seemed to get off the bus in a 54-14 loss, Virgin Valley left with a 48-18 victory. Pahrump Valley probably would have waited as long as it needed to for Virgin Valley to arrive, just to have a chance to play.

The Trojans had yet to do so this season. They had a scheduled bye last week after their first two games against Sunrise Mountain and Rancho were canceled.

Game of the night

On a night in which no games were decided by fewer than 10 points, let’s go back to the afternoon.

Desert Pines had waited for three weeks to get back on the field, and coach Tico Rodriguez said Thursday his Jaguars were “foaming at the mouth” to play.

In what turned out to be a wild shootout, the Jaguars allowed 615 total yards to Orem (Utah) in the Polynesian Classic, but forced six turnovers and recovered two of their own squib kicks. They used those breaks — and 309 yards and six touchdowns passing from Rjay Tagataese — to take a 53-42 win.

This game, in which the Jaguars had 395 yards for a total of 1,010, is a complete departure from others that have taken the “game of the night” distinction, such as Desert Oasis’ 9-8 win over Spring Valley and Legacy’s 8-7 victory over Las Vegas.

First look

Bishop Gorman goes on the road for its final out-of-state game against Hamilton (Arizona) before opening league play by hosting Arbor View.

Two Class 4A showdowns loom, with Silverado hosting Coronado and Shadow Ridge welcoming Desert Oasis. In 3A, Virgin Valley (at Boulder City) and Moapa Valley (hosting Pahrump Valley) will try to remain undefeated.

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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