Bouncing back from a narrow loss can be tough for a high school football team.
Basic’s 37-35 defeat by rival Foothill certainly qualifies as a heartbreaker, but the Wolves won’t have time to lick their wounds this week. They have an even bigger game on the slate.
No. 6 Basic (6-2, 3-1 Southeast League) hosts second-ranked Liberty (7-1, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday with the Southeast League’s top playoff seed at stake. It is the final regular-season game for both teams.
“It’s something that we were focused on all year the way the schedule fell,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “We felt that if we could get to this game, it would be a big thing for us. Even though last week didn’t go the way we wanted it to, we still had everything in front of us with this game, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Knocking off the Patriots will be difficult. Liberty has won 22 consecutive games against Nevada teams other than Bishop Gorman. The Patriots ended Basic’s season last fall, beating the Wolves 62-29 in the Sunrise Region final. Liberty is ranked No. 25 in the nation by USA Today.
“We can’t give up,” Basic senior receiver De’Shawn Eagles said. “They might get a lead, but if they do get that lead, we just can’t give up. We’ve got to maintain our composure and just play.”
Slowing Liberty’s high-powered offense will be key. The Patriots are averaging 40.6 points and are coming off a 58-13 win over Silverado. The Skyhawks had allowed only 73 points before the loss to Liberty.
“They’re tough. They’ve got so many athletes out there, and their quarterback is really good and their line’s huge,” Cahill said. “They’re ranked in the top 25 in the nation for a reason. We definitely are going to have our hands full. But our kids have always been fighters and scrappers, and they’re going to go out there and give it their best, for sure.”
Liberty’s offense revolves around its passing game, led by junior quarterback Kenyon Oblad and senior receivers Darion Acohido and Ethan Dedeaux. Oblad has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. Acohido has 56 catches for 896 yards and seven TDs, and Dedeaux has caught 38 passes for 778 yards and 11 TDs.
“We just have to cover a little bit better than last week,” Cahill said. “And we’re going to have to get some pressure on Kenyon. If we let him sit back there, he’s going to pick us apart.”
Basic counters with its own outstanding passing game, led by senior quarterback Aaron McAllister, who has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,325 yards and 31 TDs. The 6-foot-4-inch Eagles (46 catches, 716 yards, 10 TDs) and 6-3 senior Frank Harris (41 catches, 808 yards, 9 TDs) give McAllister two big-play threats.
“If you like receiver play, this is the game to be at,” Cahill said. “They’ve got some great ones, and so do we.”
And the Wolves hope to put to use lessons learned in the loss to Foothill.
“The loss last week got us into the right mindset that we shouldn’t overlook anybody,” junior defensive back Jordan Gallegos said. “I think it might have helped us for this week and got us in better shape mentally and physically.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-458. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.