Williams Field vs. Liberty
Well, at least Williams Field and Peoria Liberty played each other in summer passing league. That counts for something, right?
Maybe not. In keeping with this year’s quarterfinals theme of either playing a team for the umpteenth time in two years, or never in their existence, Williams Field falls into the latter as the Black Hawks (10-1) drive out to Peoria to face Liberty (10-1) on Friday night.
Both programs begin at the same time (give or take a year) and, but both have quickly evolved with their winning ways since the programs’ inceptions.
But they’ve never seen one another as varsity programs (only playing an independent schedule the first year of existence), and, in fact, 4-5 degrees of separation were required to find common opponents among opponents.
The film, however, doesn’t lie when it comes to Liberty QB Tyler Rogers. He’s completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,591 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He’s rushed for 621 yards and 12 TDs as part of a collection of Liberty backfield mates who share the running game carries.
“He’s the real deal, he’s the guy you have to stop,” Williams Field coach Steve Campbell said. “He’s the focus, and they have other players for sure, but that’s the guy you have to stop.”
Easier said than done, as can be said about Liberty. The Lions manhandled Paradise Valley in the second half of their early-season matchup, handled Peoria, Sunrise Mountain, Glendale Cactus and P.V. again last week among the team’s wins. The lone loss was a shutout at the hands of Goodyear Desert Edge (which faces Saguaro on Friday night).
An uptick in competition should benefit Williams Field. The Black Hawks played a couple close games they won earlier in the season, but finished the regular season with an overtime win against Poston Butte and loss to Queen Creek before a second narrow win against Campo Verde last week’s first round.
Questions for WF include its offense, which Campbell said ran a total of 37 plays against Campo Verde last week, and never ran its bread-and-butter base running play at all in the first half. The Black Hawks also felt two potential touchdowns on vertical passing plays were missed.
“We have to improve on making the big play,” Campbell said.
Positives included special teams, notably the return game. Sean Schweichler (1,123 yards rushing, 28 touchdowns) gets the bulk of carries on offense but he also returns kicks, including one last week for a touchdown. The Black Hawks also had another long return when Campo tried to kick away from Schweichler.
Besides defending Rogers, and turnover margin, how well Jeddediah Fagg can connect with Jordan Johnson and Cole Forsgren in the passing game might be WF’s deciding factor against an active front seven of Liberty’s defense.