Liberty’s top two running backs were out of its playoff opener on Friday night.
It was no problem; the Patriots’ third and fourth backs were up to the task. Junior Caleb Pulu and senior Mana Moniz paced Liberty in a 35-0 victory over Desert Oasis.
“Caleb did a great job all night, ran hard,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “And Mana is our jack of all trades…he’s done it all all season for us.”
Pulu and Moniz each had a touchdown against the Diamondbacks, and they weren’t the only previously-unsung standouts in the game. Backup quarterback Kanyon Stoneking had a touchdown pass to start the scoring, on a slant route to junior receiver Maurice Hampton.
In addition to three aforementioned touchdowns, junior defensive back Lehi Ausage returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Patriots up 28-0 at halftime.
Although Liberty largely relied on freshmen and junior-varsity call-ups in the second half, it also got a score from the one player not a surprise to find on the scoresheet. Senior cornerback Cervontes White intercepted a pass in the end zone, and returned it 106 yards for a score.
The rout sets up a showdown with Sierra Vista in the second round of the playoffs next week.
“They’ll be a good challenge for us,” Muraco said. “I’ve seen them play a couple times, watched them in person against Desert Pines and seen their film against different opponents. They do a good job passing the ball and have a lot of athletes out there. They’re good defensively. We’ve got to amp our game up, especially offensively.”