FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Burress’ return is a winner for ’Cats
Prior to the start of Liberty’s home opener last night, smoke drifted out of the Eagles’ entryway where players were huddled together waiting to charge onto the field.
Mountain View fans in the visiting stands could have yelled a collective “air raid” in anticipation of the Wildcats’ aerial assault that was about to be released.
Elijah Burress made a successful return at quarterback, passing for 240 yards and three scores, while teammate Quinton Gray had a remarkable effort, totaling seven catches for 119 yards and two TDs, as well as accounting for three of the Wildcats’ six interceptions.
Coupled with a Jacob Clark 18-yard return for a score on a fumbled kickoff and a goal-line stand by Mountain View’s defense that ended the first half, the Wildcats prevailed 39–21, despite being outgained, 400 to 336 yards.
“It was an up-and-down first half and we started slowly,” Mountain View coach Lou Sorrentino said. “It [the stand] gave us energy and we had the lead. And for their end, it’s tough getting that close and not coming away with anything.”
With nine seconds left in the first half, Liberty had two shots to punch the ball in from the Eagles’ 4-yard line, but came up a yard shy, leaving the Wildcats ahead 20–14.
A short punt left Mountain View only 38 yards to go for a score on its first third-quarter possession and Burress found Gray alone in the left corner of the end zone.
Liberty fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Clark returned for another TD, boosting the lead to 33–14.
“That’s one of our special plays: No one seems to see me in the bunch,” Gray reflected on his first TD. “So when I fake a block and go straight out, no one is around me, usually.”
Gray used a stutter step and a fake go-route to create space on his 63-yard strike from Burress for Mountain View’s final score.
Johnson’s first interception and 17-yard return set up the Wildcats’ go-ahead score in the second quarter, then saw a potential 44-yard TD return with a pick nullified after he drop the ball in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.
He managed pick number three two plays later to end the Eagles’ final drive.
Gray credited offseason work with his father in improving his secondary skills.
Besides his own interception, fellow defender Dontey Brach made a remarkable tackle, chasing down Martin Parker after a 72-yard gain. Garrett Watts scored on a 10-yard run three plays later.