No. 19 Liberty (10-1 in 2004)
at Fauquier (4-6)
When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
Falcons quarterback Zac Caito and the team's new spread offense against an Eagles defense that returns three all-Region II honorees from last season: defensive end Aaron Hull, linebacker Bryan Roof and defensive back Adrian Hull.
Liberty's defense will be its strength. The Eagles return only four starters from a unit that held opponents to 4.2 points per game during the regular season last year, but they have a wealth of talent. Senior Aaron Hull (Temple) was last year's All-Extra Defensive Player of the Year and is said to be bigger, faster and stronger this season. Fauquier was the only team in the regular season to score in double digits against Liberty, losing 16-13 in last year's opener. With Caito making his debut in first-year coach Greg Hatfield's wide-open passing attack, the Falcons are hoping the added spice will prove troublesome for the Eagles.
"We're getting there with the offense," Hatfield said. "We've made a lot of progress this preseason. It's still hard to tell just where you stand without a game under your belt, though, so this will be a big test for us."
With Fauquier's move out of the AA Northwestern District and into the AAA Cedar Run, there will be no shot at redemption at season's end for the loser of this game between Fauquier County rivals. That fact alone should have the crowd -- and the teams -- extra motivated.
"Anytime you play your county rival, it's an important game," Liberty Coach Tommy Buzzo said.
"It's also important to get your season started off on the right foot, especially when you have a team as inexperienced as this team. You need to get a win in there early to get some confidence."
One big question mark remains for Liberty: Who will start at quarterback?
As of Tuesday, Buzzo said he was unsure but that sophomore Wayne Conner and junior Jeremy Ulrich will play.
"I really wanted to have decided on a quarterback before the season started," Buzzo said. "It's just not right at this point to name one because neither of them has done anything to win the position; neither of them has done anything to lose it. They played even in our first two scrimmages. And I think at this point either one could develop into what we're looking for. It's just hard to make a decision. So we're going to play two until we feel like one is showing signs of pulling away and doing a better job."