LHS v VHS

Quarterback Jay Butterfield (9) handed off to running back Brenden Bell (8) as the Liberty Lions, 2018 state champions, got their season off to good start with a 49-24 victory over Vacaville High School in Vacaville, Calif., Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. Though they got the victory, the Lions defense allowed more points than they did against any team in the 2018 regular season. They travel to Oakdale High School Friday, Aug. 30. (Tony Kukulich/The Press)

Brentwood’s reigning state champion Liberty High School football team rolled into Vacaville High School last week to kick off another season. And in familiar fashion, they rolled away with a victory: 49-24 over the Bulldogs.

Lions quarterback Jay Butterfield completed 15 of 25 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns; running back Brenden Bell racked up 22 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown to go along with another on a 98-yard kickoff return; and wide receiver Cody Muth exploded for six catches for 190 yards and a touchdown, as the Lions roared to a 42-10, third-quarter lead, en route to a 25-point victory.

Despite the win, the Lions felt they still had plenty to improve upon.

“It was a good first half,” said Liberty head coach Ryan Partridge. “It was good to see those guys get the run game going. The second half was embarrassing. That was not our type of football, but we will clean it up.”

Liberty scored on its opening possession — on Bell’s 3-yard scamper — and built a 35-7 halftime lead, but they allowed Vacaville to pull within 42-24 late in the fourth quarter on Kadin Hernandez’s 60-yard dash.

Bell immediately enhanced the Liberty win with a 98-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, cementing the victory that never seemed to be in danger after the Lions built their big halftime lead.

“It was a strong start,” Butterfield said. “The second half we were sloppy. We have a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to improve upon, but overall it was a pretty good performance.”

Liberty’s offense looked familiarly potent, with the Lions piling up 502 total yards in the contest, and picking up big chunks of yardage when it mattered most.

Darrion Bartley’s 17-yard run midway through the first quarter broke a 7-all tie, and gave Liberty the lead for good.

But the Lions’ offensive attack was just warming up.

Liberty scored unanswered touchdowns on its final four first-half possessions, with Muth scoring on a 65-yard catch and run, Bell finding the end zone with a 2-yard jaunt, and Bartley jetting to a 29-yard score to give Liberty a 28-point halftime lead.

“We did well, but there is always stuff we can work on,” said Bartley, who finished with four carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 38 more yards, and a third score that gave Liberty a 42-10 lead midway through the third quarter.

Myron Amey’s 85-yard third quarter kickoff return and Hernandez’s 60-yard run, late in the fourth, cut Vacaville’s deficit to 42-24, but the Bulldogs drew no closer.

The Bulldogs’ Jeremy Villalobos completed 14 of 21 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown; wide receiver Michael Briscoe caught three passes for 121 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7, early in the first quarter; and Hernandez led the rushing attack with 58 yards on three carries in the loss.

The Lions return to the field on Aug. 30 at Oakdale at 7:30 p.m. to battle the Mustangs, who are 1-0 this season after trouncing Sonora 41-7 on Aug. 23.

In other action

San Ramon Valley 34, Heritage 7

San Ramon Valley, the defending North Coast Section Division I champions, built up a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back en route to the victory.

The Patriots’ sole score came from Tony Zalec’s 52-yard hustle in the fourth quarter.

Wolves quarterback Jack Quigley completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Jacob Himan carried the ball 15 times for 91 yards and two scores. J.P. Murphy led the receiving corps with four catches for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Heritage will try to bounce back on Aug. 30 on the road against Foothill at 7 p.m.

Foothill also lost its opening game, 28-20, to San Leandro.

Turlock 21, Freedom 7

Turlock scored two unanswered second-quarter touchdowns and added another in the fourth on its way to victory.

The Falcons tacked on their only touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Freedom looks for its first win of the season at San Leandro on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Pittsburg 42, St. Mary’s 35

The new-look Pirates outlasted St. Mary’s 42-35 in Stockton.

Pirates quarterback Jerry Johnson wasted no time taking the spotlight, completing 21 of 31 passes for 368 yards and six touchdowns. Fellow senior Johnny Blackmon III had six catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Avant Muldrow racked up 94 yards on 18 carries. Pittsburg led 12-7 after the first quarter, but relinquished the lead, 21-20, at halftime, before taking a 28-21 lead after three quarters. The two squads combined for 28 fourth-quarter points.

Pittsburg travels to Serra High on Aug. 31, game time at 1 p.m.

Amador Valley 30, Antioch 22

Trailing 16-6 after three quarters, the Panthers answered with 16 fourth-quarter points, but it wasn’t enough in the close loss.

Antioch junior quarterback Rocco Borrelli completed 14 of 35 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while senior receiver Shamar Lemmon pulled in five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Amador Valley’s Kannon Dote finished with 229 yards passing and a TD, and receiver Josh Heverly brought in four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

The Dons’ Dajhae Wiltshire also had a productive game, rushing for 53 yards on 13 carries.

Antioch returns to battle at home against California High on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. California High defeated Nevada’s Churchill County 25-12 to open its season.

American Canyon 40, Deer Valley 8

The American Canyon Wolves took care of the Deer Valley Wolverines 40-8.

The Wolves scored six points in the first quarter, 13 in the second, 14 in the third and seven in the fourth.

Deer Valley senior Pacifica Tumanuvao was a bright spot for the Wolverines, completing seven of 14 passes for 38 yards, and carrying the ball 15 times for 99 more yards. Deer Valley was held to 150 total yards in the game.

Deer Valley will try to pick up its first win on the road against Campolindo on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. Campolindo knocked off Montgomery 40-0 to open the season.

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