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December 06th, 2021

huskey stiffarmHunter Huskey stiffarms a Wichita Southeast Golden Buffalo during a run Friday night in Wichita. Huskey ran for 158 yards to lead the Redskins to a 36-6 win. L&T photo/Earl WattEARL WATT • Leader & Times


WICHITA — Hunter Huskey used a wiggle in his step to avoid Wichita Southeast defenders Friday night, and his jukes and jives led to 158 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a 36-6 win for the Liberal Redskins.

Huskey had six carries on the eight-play opening drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Huskey for an early 8-0 lead.

Southeast attempted a screen pass on their first play, but Adrian Zuniga intercepted the ball and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown, and in the first four minutes of the game the Redskins had a 14-0 lead.

Huskey led another scoring drive for the Redskins on their next possession when the Redskins took over at their own 18-yard line. Huskey had six carries on the nine-play drive that also included a 23-yard pass from Brooks Kappelmann to Izzy Garcia-Rotolo that set up a two-yard touchdown run by Huskey for a 20-0 Liberal lead.

The Angry Red defense continued to wreak havoc on the Southeast offense in the first half and forced another punt, and the Redskins took over at their own 36-yard line.

Liberal went on a six-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kappelmann to Garcia-Rotolo, and the Redskins had a 28-0 halftime lead.

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Liberal’s final scoring drive of the game came early in the fourth quarter with a 13-play, 63-yard drive that featured Trystian Juarez in the backfield after Huskey was helped off the field after an ankle injury, and Juarez carried the ball nine times for 49 yards to help set up a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kappelmann to Shay Kerr, and the Redskins had a 36-0 lead.

The Golden Buffaloes avoided the shutout with a crossing pass over the middle that went for a 48-yard touchdown and the 36-6 final.

Kappelmann ended the night completing five of 11 passes for 101 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Huskey has his night shortened by the injury but still gained 158 yards and scored two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Juarez rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries.

After missing two weeks from the sidelines, Liberal coach Jason Dunlap returned, and while it was Game 4 on the schedule, the first-game butterflies were back.

“Two minutes before kick-off my nerves kicked in like my season never started,” Dunlap said.  “Mine really never did except the Guymon game. I was happy to be back out here, get the smell and get to talk with you guys. That’s what it’s about.”

But Dunlap also had the same feeling key players have when they miss a game.

“I felt like I betrayed my team,” Dunlap said. “They knew I was sick, but I felt like I left them in the dark. It’s a hard pill to swallow because you’re trying to build something, and these kids are so young and impressionable. We want to bet he best role models we can be, that way one day we have better fathers and better grandsons. That’s what it is about. We want to be the best role models we can be.”

Dunlap also appreciated Coach Trace Haskell stepping in to cover the head coaching responsibilities while Dunlap was battling food poisoning and an adverse reaction to a vaccine shot. 

“Coach Haskell did a hell of a job covering for me, and the assistants did a great job,” he said. “When I watched film it looked like the players were waiting for me to walk out of the tunnel, and I’m not. I was sick. I was down. I told them, ‘You have to do this on your own. It’s not me, you have great coaches here.’ My assistants do the coaching. I miss those days where I coached hard as an assistant. I let these guys coach. That’s part of being young. But we can bring the fight to anyone.”

Liberal saw fewer penalties against Southeast after struggling with false started and offsides in the first three games.

“We cleaned it up,” Dunlap said. “Coach Haskell and I made a big point to make sure there was a reminder behind penalties. If we saw holding, offsides, you are going to do some up-downs, some gassers. It’s time to grow up. Sophomores are doing their best, but that is the focus. That’s part of our job. We won’t make them bigger or faster overnight, but we can help with the focus.”

Dunlap also credited the offensive line for giving the running backs holes and Kappelmann time to throw.

“We had a really good game tonight from our offensive line,” he said. “That was an athletic defense. They didn’t play up to the potential we saw from them on film. Sometimes you have those nights.  I was proud of our young kids tonight. They played harder but we still had too many mistakes. Those will get us beat against a better team.”

While Dunlap has shown patience as his younger players mature, he said that patience won’t last forever.

“In two years I won’t be so nice about those mistakes,” he said. “But it was sophomore mistakes. You have to bite your tongue because you have young guys on the field. In two years we should be talking about something special because we have a lot of young kids.”

But his concern after the game was for senior Huskey.

“He had an ankle sprain,” Dunlap said. “He got caught up behind a kid. We have to get him ready for Garden City. It seems like all of our seniors are falling like flies. If he’s not ready we will go with another sophomore. We have a freshman, too. We will give Garden City the best fight we got with what we got.”

Injuries and COVID protocols have limited Dunlap’s roster.

“We traveled 44 today,” he said. “We have nine injured not counting those at home with COVID protocol. We will keep our same practice model. We will shorten it up but make it intense. That is just us trying to get healthy. We hope we get senior Easton Zapien back, but if we don’t we have another sophomore.”

Liberal moved to 2-2 on the season and will face the Buffaloes in back-to-back weeks when they travel to Garden City to face the Buffaloes in a key Western Athletic Conference match-up.

Liberal defeated the Buffaloes a year ago, but Garden City has a new quarterback and offense.

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