Simi Moananu has been named to the All-League team three times
LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – After losing the likes of Dra Rushton, Chris Edmonds, Capone Haywood, Brian Maddox, Mohannad Yusuf, Quaishon Campbell and Derek Gilcher – it would’ve been natural for Liberty to take a step back. The 2018 Leopards may not have made the playoffs but they did win 7 games. Coach Allen’s offense averaged over 35-points and 305-yards per game. The defense held the opposition to less than 235-yards and 18-points per outing. Now, in his 5th season at the helm, Allen hopes this year will result in a trip to week eleven once again.
Head Coach: Chet Allen, 5th season (23-18)
2018 record (AAC Blue): 7-3 (4-2), 3rd place
Five Key Points
1.In 2018, 85% of Liberty’s offensive plays ended up in running plays (409 rushes, 72 passes)
2.Simi Moananu has been named to the AAC’s First-Team – Offensive Line as junior and Defensive Line as sophomore – and All-League Second-Team Defensive Line as freshman
3.Liberty has won 8 of their last 9 regular season road games.
4.Last time, Leopards closed out a year with a losing mark in league play was in 2011.
5.Since 2000, Liberty has won or shared their league championship 7 times.
Returning Starters: 7
Scoring Offense: 35.4 (11th in Area)
Rushing Offense: 305.6
Passing Offense: 36.0
Total Offense: 341.6
…Last fall – for the 3rd time in the last 12 years – Liberty completed back-to-back seasons by posting an average of 30-plus points (2018: 35.4; 2017: 37.3). This season, the Leopards will have an opening at the quarterback position with a couple of players vying for the role. Last year, a pair of freshmen, Donte Venters and Antwan Brown Jr., both rushed for 264 and 170 yards respectively.
The return of senior lineman Simi Moananu – who earned 1st-Team All-AAC last fall – will help. The team must replace Jalen McKinney (577 rushing yards), Hamad Alhmeed (359 rushing yards, 134 passing yards, 30.3 punting average), and Kameron Thomas (14 catches, 2 TDs) who all graduated this past spring. Coach Allen sees, “Execution by the offensive line,” as the key to his offense. “Moananu will anchor the offensive line, especially being a 4-year letter winner to be, we’re really leaning on his leadership.
We also have to minimize the mistakes and turnovers. BEveryone will fill their roles, and make due of their opportunities. We do not have a quota system for touches and could end with any one of our guys.”
Returning Starters: 7
Scoring Defense: 17.4 (16th in Area)
Total Defense: 231.9
…Over the years, Liberty has been known for their defensive effort just as much as their offensive firepower. For the 16th time in the last 19 years, the Leopard defense has held the opposition to an average of less than 24-points per game. Ten times within that time span, they’ve achieved that mark with less than 20-points per game. The loss of linebacker Zach Coman (65 tackles, 3 QB sacks, 3 fumble recoveries) and defensive back Kameron Thomas (34 tackles, 3 INTs) will be tough to replace. Both were listed on the All-League roll call.
Up front, Simi Moananu had 10 tackles for a loss while accumulating 34 total tackles. Junior Carter Coman – who garnered 2nd-Team All-AAC – is back at defensive end. Senior Micah Dukes is back also who finished with 2 quarterback sacks and 10 tackles for a loss.
“Jamie Melton (30 tackles) will be asked to anchor the defense along with Tyler Mowery. (This fall), we need to keep the opposition out of the end zone,” Allen says. “We need to secure our tackles and increase turnover margin. Our returnees will be looked at to lead by example and to continue to do the right things we have carried on from the past. These young men know that this game will go by swiftly, and we need to do our jobs to the best of our abilities in order for the team to prosper.”
Aug. 30 – East
Sept. 6 – at Lakeview
Sept. 13 – at Chaney
Sept. 20 – at Brookfield
Sept. 27 – Campbell Memorial
Oct. 4 – at LaBrae
Oct. 11 – Champion
Oct. 18 – Crestview
Oct. 25 – Newton Falls
Nov. 1 – at Beaver Local