The rugged schedule that Liberty’s football team played helped earn the Patriots a national ranking for much of last season.
Liberty coach Rich Muraco has similar plans for this fall.
The Patriots will travel to Arizona and Florida for high-profile matchups and are scheduled to host a game at Sam Boyd Stadium as part of their 2017 schedule, Muraco said Tuesday.
“The only way you can gain any national recognition is by being able to take on quality opponents,” Muraco said. “If you just played local teams, you’re never going to get that next level of respect. We are fortunate enough that we have parents and families that support the football program and are willing to do what it takes to raise the money to go play these games.”
Liberty will open at Saguaro (Arizona) on Aug. 25. Saguaro won the Arizona 4A state title last season, and the Sabercats have been one of that state’s top programs the past decade.
The following week, the Patriots visit American Heritage (Florida), which captured the 6A state title and ended the season as a consensus top-15 team in the national rankings.
“The last two years, we’ve lost four games, and every team we’ve lost to has been in the top 20 (nationally),” Muraco said. “We’re trying to do what we can to challenge our program, challenge our kids. It helps with getting the sponsorship from adidas, it’s helping with (college) recruiting.
We see the benefit in it. The parents see the benefit in it. The kids are always excited.”
The Patriots also are scheduled to host Long Beach Poly (California) on Sept. 8 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Muraco said Liberty will then play a still-to-be determined local team to round out its nonleague schedule.
“We’re excited, and we’re going to work hard, and hopefully we’ll be able to represent not just Liberty but the entire state,” Muraco said. “You see more and more schools in the valley that are taking on out-of-state teams to get their kids that experience, too, and that’s nice to see.”
GORMAN ADDS FLORIDA POWER
Bishop Gorman’s football team completed its nonleague schedule for 2017 with the addition of Miami Central, Gaels coach Kenny Sanchez confirmed.
Central, which won four consecutive Florida Class 6A state titles from 2012 to 2015, will travel to Las Vegas during the third week of the season. The Gaels also are scheduled to play DeMatha (Maryland), Mater Dei (California) and De La Salle (California).
STRONG HITS MILESTONE
Pahranagat Valley boys basketball coach Mike Strong earned his 300th career victory Friday when the Panthers beat Tonopah 55-30.
After victories Saturday and Tuesday, Strong is 302-251 overall, including 281-216 in 15 seasons spread over two tenures at Pahranagat Valley.
AGGIES’ AD STEPS DOWN
Arbor View athletic director Roger Brown, the school’s only AD since it opened in 2005, will step down at the end of the school year.
Jay Howard, the school’s highly successful girls soccer coach, will take over. He is expected to remain the Aggies’ soccer coach for one more season.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.