high school football:

Always a Patriot’: Liberty sends 5 players onto Division I football

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Steve Marcus

Liberty quarterback Daniel Britt (18) carries the ball during the 4A high school football championship game at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Liberty beat Centennial 50-7.

Wed, Dec 16, 2020 (2:25 p.m.)

Liberty High football coach Rich Muraco took turns describing each of the five players from the program who signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday.

When he got to Benjamin Roy, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound center who signed with UCLA, the veteran coach raved about Roy's leadership and determination on the line. If it weren’t for Roy, Muraco told the small group of families assembled at a local church for their pandemic-altered celebration, Liberty wouldn’t have won the state championship in 2019.

“I really wish we had a season this year so we could have gotten another year out of you,” Muraco told Roy. “You will always be a Patriot.”

Liberty’s graduating class of 2021 will go down as the best in program history. Consider this: In 18 years of existence, Liberty has sent 23 players onto Division I football. Today, it sent five, all key cogs in last fall’s championship team.

“Saying (this group) is special doesn’t give it justice,” Muraco said.

He raved about Montana-bound quarterback Daniel Britt, who didn’t make his debut on the varsity level until midway through last season because he was stuck on the depth chart and coming off an injury. The Patriots opened the season with five defeats before Britt became the starter. They never lost the rest of the way.

“You didn’t have it easy,” Muraco told Britt. “You had to work for everything you got.”

Tight end Moliki Matavao, who signed with Oregon, will go down as one of the best in school history as Liberty’s first selection to the All-American Bowl. That’s usually played in early January on NBC but was canceled this year because of the pandemic.

“The biggest thing with Mo is he is 10 times the person off the field that he is one the field. He does everything the right way,” Muraco said.

Muraco stressed to the athletes to take advantage of the opportunity in college with a full-ride scholarship. Regardless of how they perform at the next level, they’ll leave college in a great spot — with a degree and debt free, he said.

“Whether you ever play a down in college football or go onto the NFL, I am going to love you the same because of how hard you have worked,” he said.

The signing day celebration is usually held on campus with a packed cafeteria or gym of teammates, family and friends. But the pandemic brought a smaller, more intimate ceremony to honor the group on a “special day not only for the athletes but their families,” Muraco said.

Other Liberty players to sign included linebackers Zephaniah Maea with Colorado and Zyrus Fiaseu with San Diego State.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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