Football preview: Liberty at James Wood

By WALT MOODY | The Winchester Star Oct 6, 2017
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Jerry Kelican Stadium, Winchester
Records: Liberty Eagles (5-0, 1-0 district); James Wood Colonels (2-3, 0-1).
Last game: Liberty beat Sherando 31-28; James Wood lost 28-23 to Hedgesville.
Last year: Did not play.
Players to watch: Liberty — WR/DB Markael Gaskins, WR/DB Ja’Von White, RB/DB Lester Parker III; OL/DL Nazir Parrish-Hill; James Wood — OL/DL Dominic Revetta, OL/DL Luke Roy, QB Carson Hoberg, RB/LB Mark Cisler.
Preview: James Wood coach Ryan Morgan was happy to have a bye last week so that his Colonels could tend to some nagging injuries and revisit a few things.
“We went back to the beginning of fall practice and worked on some of the basic things we had let slip from our minds,” Morgan said. “We went back to some fundamentals and to some basic drills. We worked over some previous plays to get some things cleaned up.”
The challenge for the Colonels is they face a dangerous Liberty team that also had a week off following a 31-28 thriller against Sherando, a team that defeated Wood 55-8 to open the season.
The Eagles blend blazing speed and size. Playmakers Markael Gaskins, a wide receiver who will run out of the Wildcat formation, Ja’Von White, a receiver who scored rushing, receiving and on an interception against the Warriors, and running back Lester Parker III, a bowling ball, are all lightning quick.
Liberty also features a huge line, including 6-foot-8, 305-pound Nazir Parrish-Hill.
“Liberty is tough,” Morgan said. “They have a lot of size up front. ... They’re very aggressive, fire off the ball and try to get into the backfield and make some things happen. They also have quite a bit of speed, so we’re going to have to play our best game of the year if we want to win.”
Although they lost 28-23 to Hedgesville, the Colonels gained some confidence by taking the game to the final minutes against a team that is now 5-1 on the season.
“They were disappointed, but some of them believe and I believe that was the best game they’ve played this year,” Morgan said of his players. “It didn’t have the result we wanted, but we played better than we did when we beat Skyline and Park View. ... Hopefully they can continue making more progress this week.”
Morgan played a pair of quarterbacks against Hedgesville. Carson Hoberg threw two touchdown passes and senior Mike Zebarth played in the final stages.
Morgan said he will “play it by ear” in regards to the quarterback situation tonight. “Both of them have played well,” he said. “Sophomore Carson Hoberg, that was his first crunch-time game action. He did a pretty good job running the offense. Mike Zebarth has been there and done it before and he’s done a nice job for us as well. They’ll probably both play.”
Morgan said two big things are necessary to send the Homecoming crowd home happy.
“Offensively, we have to block up front because the way [the Eagles] get off the ball,” he said. “If we’re not blocking people and using the proper technique, then they are going to get in the backfield, cause turnovers and wreak havoc.
“On defense, the biggest thing we have to do is tackle. We have to get 11 guys to the football because overall they’re faster than us. We can’t expect to tackle them one-on-one in space. We have to get as many guys to the football as possible.”
— Compiled by Walt Moody