Beat elite private school team from So Cal
By Jesus Cano, Herald Sports Reporter
NORWALK, Calif. — As soon as then-first year head coach Ryan Partridge and his Liberty High School football team won the 2017 NCS Division I Championship, they set their eyes on the next prize. And Saturday night, Dec. 15 at Cerritos College in Southern California, the Lions’ historic two-season run came to an end with a 19-17 victory over the Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) Trailblazers, allowing them to hoist the CIF Division 1-A State Championship.
“Every one of these kids deserve it. Every player is extremely important to this program. It’s just unbelievable, I can’t even put my thoughts into words right now.” said Partridge.
Sierra Canyon is a private pre-K through 12th grade day and boarding school where a variety of famous individuals have attended or send their children, including members of the Kardashian family, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter Willow and Ireland Baldwin the daughter of actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger, to name a few.
Tyerell Sturges-Cofer made his last high school football game memorable, rushing for all three of Liberty’s touchdowns on his 188-yard night. With quarterback Jay Butterfield struggling, the Lions’ traditionally pass-heavy offense was forced to turn to the ground attack, with Sturges-Cofer leading the comeback from down 17-7.
“Our O-line was doing an amazing job. We just kept fighting and going for the first down.” said Sturges-Cofer. “In the beginning of the season, coach said we were going for state. We won D-one last year, so we had to take another step and we did it.”
Sierra Canyon got on the board first with an 87-yard drive, capping off with a Chayden Peery one-yard sneak. Sturges-Cofer responded one play later, escaping for a 72-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Trailblazers went on to light up the scoreboard in the rest of the first half. Josh Bryan added a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-7 in the second quarter. Brendon Gamble tackled on a 22-yard rushing touchdown, giving Sierra Canyon the 17-7 lead heading into halftime.
Sturges-Cofer was set up with the defense’s second touchdown of game, as they forced Sierra Canyon to fumble for a second time. It only took two plays for Sturges-Cofer to score with a 31-yard touchdown run that saw him knock down a pack of Traiblazer linemen to make it 17-13.
Liberty quarterback Jay Butterfield was rattled, unable to complete passes to his receivers, but stepped up when it was necessary by hitting Adrik Lamar to set up Sturges-Cofer for his game winning touchdown drive.
“Our defense picked me up especially throughout the whole game,” said Butterfield. “You never give up anytime, you always trust your receivers. No matter if it’s your top guy or your bottom guy.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Liberty over the past two seasons. The Lions won the NCS Division I championship in 2017, and in 2018 were able to finish the regular season 10-0, and win the BVAL for the first time in school history, while beating powerhouse Pittsburg for the first time since 2005.
As the Lions arrived from Southern California, they were greeted with roaring Liberty fans in the downtown Brentwood campus.
“We have the best fans supporting us at every game.” Butterfield said.
“We have such great community support. It just means everything. We set the culture of service and love.” Partridge added.