Sports Editor

football column image

Liberty and Harmony will likely settle which Osceola County District 7A-5 team will challenge favorite Lake Nona later on for the district title when the two meet at Liberty on Friday at 7 p.m.

The matchup features a Chargers offense that has scored 74 points in two games and a Longhorns defense that has given up 38 points in three games, and shut out its Kickoff Classic opponent.

“This is one I’ve been concerned about,” HHS Coach Don Simon said this week. “Liberty is very athletic. Stopping their quarterback (Jaelen Ray) is going to be a chore to stop, he runs and throws it well.”

Liberty Coach Brandon Pennington called Friday “a huge test.”

“A win will validate what we’ve done, and frankly we’ve got to win to be in the conversation to win the district. It’s going to be a great physical matchup with a couple of front sevens ready to pounce,” he said. “Their offense is our offense, so our defense practices against it so we’re prepping for ourselves, but they’re about two years ahead of us.”

Both squads are coming off big shutout victories over in-county opponents on Friday.

The Chargers (1-1) kept their record perfect in the annual Battle of the Boulevard matchup with Poinciana; Liberty’s 42-0 win was the 13th in a row over the Eagles (0-3), who have a bye this week.

Quarterback Jaelen Ray accounted for 200 of Liberty’s 283 offensive yards, and four of the six touchdowns, rushing for three of them and tossing a 4-yard pass to Lamar Patterson. Ja’Randy Swint also scored on a 19-yard run just before halftime, and the special teams unit got the Chargers on the board first by blocking a punt that Jaleik Scott recovered in the end zone early in the game.

The Charger defense recorded four sacks, and Giovani Gordon picked off a pass to help Liberty deliver the shutout.

Meanwhile, Harmony moved to 2-1 with a 49-0 win over Tohopekaliga in the in the Tigers’ first game against another county opponent. Quarterback Nate Herstich tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Caeleb Bass and another to Justice Geissbuhler, and Justin Gleason ran for a pair of scores on a night Longhorns. The defense held the Tigers to 15 yards of offense.

“We ran the ball efficiently, and Nate was real efficient throwing it,” Simon said.