Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 | 12:43 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer disagree on what will happen in the Sunrise Region championship game between Liberty and Las Vegas. They also break down the rest of the week's games.
Each member of the Liberty defensive front seven thinks of himself as a brick.
Put together, they say, they create an impenetrable brick wall. Las Vegas High found that out the hard way Friday night in the Sunrise Region finals.
Liberty, Southeast Division champions, used a dominating defensive performance to knock Las Vegas, Northeast Division champions, out of the playoffs by a jaw-dropping 35-14 margin.
“The thing that hit us the most was when our coaches said speed can’t do anything against a brick wall,” junior defensive lineman Jordan Kapeli said. “That’s what we are.”
Advancing to the state semifinals, where Liberty will meet McQueen in Reno next week, isn’t supposed to be this easy.
The Patriots jumped out to a 35-0 lead after their first possession of the second half and stymied an explosive Wildcats offense. Through two-and-a-half quarters of play, Las Vegas had recorded only two out of 20 plays for positive yards with one first down.
“This was the most focused the kids have been all season,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “They came out and did exactly what we asked of them — swarmed to the ball, did their assignments, stayed in their lanes and wrapped up and made some hard hits.”
The Liberty offense did its part, too. The Wildcats hadn’t given up 35 points to a Nevada team since 2008.
The Patriots scored on every one of their drives in the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead into the locker room.
The longest play came when Jordan Kapeli, a fullback on offense, broke through a congested left side of the line for a 42-yard touchdown.
“It was wedge play,” Muraco said. “Everyone steps down and like a bulldozer, they just plow ahead. The backs fake to the outside to pull people away. Jordan just ran it perfect. He stayed right behind the lineman, the big 300 pounders, and saw the seam.”
Kapeli scored a second touchdown with 20 seconds left in the first half to seal Player of the Game honors. He was Liberty’s leading rusher with nine carries for 79 yards.
Combined, Liberty rushed for 251 yards.
“They were no less than what we expected,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “They are a big, physical team and those are the teams that keep playing.”
Las Vegas scored both of its touchdowns with less than five minutes remaining. Lamond Powe capped a long drive by scoring on a five-yard rush.
It was a picturesque play, but way too late.
“We couldn’t overcome what we put ourselves in,” Faircloth said. “It was a bad situation.”