Liberty completed the most successful season in school history in 1998: First Northwestern District title, first trip to the playoffs and a school-record number of wins (11).
But the Eagles are facing a much different situation from last year, when they began the season with an established defense that featured nine returning starters. This year, Liberty Coach Joe Trabucco must find a way to replace nine defensive starters.
"Defense is key," said Trabucco, whose team recorded three shutouts in 1998.
"We have as much speed on defense as we did last year, but we're lacking experience. We feel like we have eight guys on defense who have varsity game experience, who maybe played every third series last year."
The Eagles also need to replace several key players from an offense that averaged 30 points per game. Junior Kurt Iverson will step in for all-state quarterback Hank Meadows, who graduated. Senior Chris Richards (6-2, 259) takes the place of all-district center Mike Day and will anchor an offensive line that averages 280 pounds.
WR Matt Childress (5-10, 172, Jr.)--Now that all-state WR Jesse Leach has graduated, Childress becomes the Eagles' top threat. He flourished alongside Leach last season, catching 33 passes for 492 yards and eight touchdowns.
Other offensive players to watch: TE Justin Mathias, Jr.; RB Shawn Lewis, Sr.; RB Matt Lewis, Jr.; FB Thomas Walker, Sr.; OL Dustin Newman, Sr.; C Chris Richards, Sr.
DL Dustin Newman (6-0, 221, Sr.) and DL Thomas Walker (5-10, 223, Sr.)--Newman and Walker are the only returning starters from last year's defense, which held opposing offenses to 11.8 points per game. Both are third-year starters.
Other defensive players to watch: LB Justin Mathias, Jr.; DL Sam Parker, Sr.
* District/Division: Group AA Northwestern/Division 4.
* Coach: Joe Trabucco, sixth season.
* Last year's record: 11-2 overall, 6-1 district.
* Most recent playoff appearance: 1998. Lost to Lafayette, 21-7, in Group AA Division 4 semifinals.
* Starters returning (offense/defense): 5/2.
at Fauquier, 7:30
at North Stafford, 7:30
at Park View, 7:30
Loudoun Valley, 7:30
at Warren County, 7:30
at Loudoun County, 7:30
Broad Run, 7:30
Potomac Falls, 7:30
42 Fauquier 21
60 at Brentsville 0
21 North Stafford 13
28 James Wood 8
26 at Loudoun Valley 14
31 at Handley 15
39 Warren County 6
28 Loudoun County 21
14 at Sherando 21
42 at Fauquier 0
28 Charlottesville * 14
24 Sherando * 0
7 Lafayette * 21
CAPTION: Shawn Lewis will help spearhead Liberty's running game, but the Eagles must replace quarterback Hank Meadows.