There is no team that can give Sherman a run for its money as the longest tenured opponent on the Denison schedule since the Bearcats have been there every fall since 1931. But it might surprise you to learn that the team with the second-most consecutive appearances would be Frisco Liberty, which is about to grace the Denison schedule for the seventh straight season — every year of Liberty’s existence.
The Redhawks, who compiled a 30-17 mark in their first four varsity seasons but won just five games combined in 2012 and 2013, come to town and get an historic distinction as the visitor for the first contest at the newly revamped Munson Stadium. There are plenty of new things to learn about Liberty, which could be a potential playoff opponent as the latest realignment has the two teams’ districts match-up for the first round.
Liberty went 2-8 last season with both victories coming during district play. The Redhawks were Denison’s final non-district opponent and the Jackets won their first game of 2013, 33-16, in the first start at quarterback by Devon Blanton.
Blanton finished with 146 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and completed 8-of-11 passes for 66 yards and an interception. Everyone else that appeared in the boxscore for Denison, however, won’t be contributing to the offense this time around.
The Jackets led 13-3 at half-time before Liberty scored in the third. Denison tacked on two more touchdowns in the frame to pull away.
A coaching change sees Chris Burtch, formerly of Seminole, taking over for Galen Zimmerman, now the offensive coordinator at Dripping Springs. There are changes across the lineup as well, including senior Udgam Goyal taking over at quarterback. Goyal will try to improve an attack that averaged 274 yards last season.
Running back Chris McPhaul will serve as Liberty’s main ball-carrier after gaining 593 yards and eight touchdowns on 107 carries as a sophomore.
Senior Austin Miller is the top returning receiving threat despite playing in four games — 11 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Along the offensive line is center Alex Beyer and C.J. Bodey.
Leading the defense is honorable mention all-state senior linebacker Jared Carmona, who had 144 tackles, 14 for a loss, with four sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles. Senior Romello McCollum, who is moving from safety to corner, and junior Gage Reiter are two of nine returning starters on the unit.