After relying on a ground-oriented attack in 2016, the Frisco Liberty Redhawks are opening up the offense this season.
The Redhawks (0-1) will be the second test of the season for the Sherman Bearcats when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Center at The Star.
A year ago, the Bearcats pulled out a 31-38 home victory as Nathaniel Omayebu rushed for a single-game school-record 312 yards and three touchdowns. Omayebu scored twice in the fourth quarter as Sherman overcame a 28-17 deficit.
While Liberty rushed 32 times with just 12 pass attempts in last week’s 51-17 loss to District 13-5A rival Frisco Wakeland, the Redhawks employed multiple formations.
“They actually go more gun and will be a little bit more spread than you think,” Sherman coach J.D. Martinez said. “Typically, last year they were more out of the Wing and I, very run-oriented. This time, they’re different. They’re more multiple and they go out of the gun a little bit more than they did last year.”
The Redhawks managed just 170 total yards against Wakeland. Quarterback Mitchell Miller accounted for most of the production, rushing for 61 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and completing 4 of 8 passes for 85 yards.
While Liberty has opened things up, Martinez said the Redhawks’ rushing game remains Sherman’s primary focus.
“Our defense will need to stop the run and rally to the ball and make them drive the ball down the field,” he said. “I don’t know how they’ll be able to do that.
“What we’ve got to do defensively is secure the edge. Friday night, (Sulphur Springs) could run the outside zone any time they wanted. They could just get the edge and we didn’t have an edge. That’s the biggest emphasis from what I saw that we need to improve on, setting an edge and not letting people run outside all day.”
Defensively, Liberty allowed 560 total yards in its opener, 376 of that on the ground. Wakeland took control right away with a 21-point first quarter and led 38-3 in the third before the Redhawks found the end zone.
One factor the Bearcats will have to deal with is playing in the nation’s only indoor high school stadium. Martinez said Sherman can’t afford be overwhelmed by the setting.
“We’e going to try to get there as early as possible so we can get that shock and awe out of the way and focus on the task at hand,” Martinez said. “We want to get there as early as we can. Typically, we get there about 5 (p.m.). If we can get there about 4 (p.m.), I’d love to get there at 4. It’s all air-conditioned and pretty nice, so why not get there and enjoy it?”