Liberty defeats Hartselle to claim North Alabama Championship

By Bob Labbe

The Liberty Lions football team made school history with the recent North Alabama Championship with a crushing defeat of Hartselle 26-8.

“We took the lead at halftime and cruised the remainder of the game,” said Liberty head coach Michael Harper, of his team’s 26-nothing halftime lead.

The win by the Lions on Hartselle’s home field was the first North Alabama Championship for the Lions and capped off a perfect 8-0 season with astounding dominating play throughout the 2012 season. The Lions posted two shutouts on its way to outscoring its opponents 290-83.

Against the Tigers of Hartselle, the Lions scored on its first possession in a three-play drive capped off by a 10-yard pass play between twin brothers Milkhi Stewart to Milkyle Stewart.

On the Tigers second possession, Milkyle Stewart intercepted a Hartselle pass and returned it 60-yards to set up a three-play drive for Liberty. Steven Best scored on a 10-yard run. With a Hannah Earnst PAT, the Lions led 13-nothing. Hartselle came back with a drive of their own, but Preston Johnson forced a fumble at Liberty’s 10-yard line. Liberty moved on a 90-yard drive and scored on a quarterback sneak by Milkhi Stewart. Earnst added the PAT.

On the final possession of the first half, Hartselle was forced into a fumble with Liberty recovering. On the final play of the half, a special hook-and-ladder play was used as Milkhi Stewart passed to Immanuel Wilder who then flipped the ball to Steven Best who scored as the clock showed zero on the scoreboard.

The second half was basically a stalemate with Hartselle scoring a touchdown in the final minutes of the game.

“It was a very good year for Liberty. An exciting and fun year,” said Harper. “We set our goal at the beginning of the season to dominate our opponents and make the other teams quit. We accomplished that. These eighth grade players will be exciting when they move up to high school next season. I’m looking forward to see those players make a great career for themselves.”