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April 18, 2014

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high school football:

Liberty beats Coronado in memorable rivalry matchup

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Liberty coach Richard Muraco yells to his players during their game against Canyon Springs Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. Liberty won the game 23-20.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer dish on all things Las Vegas high school football again this week. Among the debates, other than the usual picks segment, are whether it's acceptable for an NFL player to introduce his high school alma mater instead of his college.

A Henderson rivalry game quickly turned into a battle between a quick-strike offense and one emphasizing ball control.

Ball-control won out on this night, as Liberty overcame a number of big plays from Coronado to win its homecoming game 35-29.

“We went back to trying to run the ball, eating up the clock and keeping their offense off the field,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “Offensively, they didn’t stop us once in the first half and defensively, we played better in the second half.”

For the second-straight week, quarterback Kai Nacua stood out for the Patriots. In addition to a big night on the ground that included a rushing touchdown, Nacua threw for more than 200 yards.

Tyler Newman, who also spends some time at quarterback, was his favorite target and led the team in receptions.

Coronado went up 7-3 early and pried the lead away from Liberty multiple times throughout the game behind the arm of quarterback Kevin Lucero.

Lucero posted big numbers, as two of his touchdowns alone were for 95 and 65 yards. But the Patriots' Jay Mitchell picked off a Lucero pass on a potential game-winning drive to end the Cougars' hopes of an upset.

In addition to Mitchell’s emergence on defense in the second half, Kusitafu Otuafi also helped slow Coronado with a couple of sacks.

“We would play amazing defense for a while and then make a mistake,” Muraco said. “You can’t do that against a good team.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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