Liberty looked like a clear underdog going into Friday’s game with Mililani High, the defending Hawaii state champion and the state’s top-ranked team.
But the game instead turned into one of the Patriots’ biggest victories and a showcase for their all-everything junior, Ethan Dedeaux.
Dedeaux scored seven touchdowns and eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving and rushing to help Liberty outgun the nationally ranked Trojans, 76-53.
“This is the first time in history we beat an out-of-state team. That is huge,” said Dedeaux. “It’s mind boggling.”
Dedeaux had touchdown receptions of 46 and 66 yards, rushed for TDs of 12, 15, 25 and 26 yards and had a 91-yard kickoff return for a score.
Dedeaux finished with three receptions for 124 yards and had nine carries for 124 yards.
“He is the best player in the state of Nevada. He’s amazing,” said Liberty coach Rich Muraco.”He doesn’t complain. He’s not a selfish kid. He just goes out and plays football. “
Muraco said he was proud of how his entire team bounced back after last week’s 43-16 loss in Honolulu to St. Louis, the No. 2 team in Hawaii.
“To beat a team like this when no one gave us a chance — I saw one prediction that said we would lose 63-10 — I’m just so proud of the kids,” said Muraco. “Because they (Mililani) are an amazing team. They have some amazing players and great coaches.”
While Trojans senior quarterback McKenzie Milton threw five touchdown passes, he was held to one after halftime, as the Liberty defense was able to get pressure on Milton and disrupt his timing.
“We had to get pressure on him,” said Muraco. “In the first half we just lined up in man and they did a great job picking up blitzes, and that kid is a great quarterback. He’s D-I. We just started disguising our coverages in the second half and mixed it up.”
As a result, Liberty forced Mililani into four second-half turnovers, including two interceptions by Dedeaux.
“Our defense switched the momentum.” said Dedeaux. “At halftime our coaches said rally to the ball. You never know what may pop up.”
But it was Dedeaux who kept popping up in the end zone for Liberty.
After the Patriots led 39-32 at the half, quarterback Kenyon Oblad tossed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Dedeaux to push the lead to 47-32.
Mililani scored on a Vavae Malpeai 14-yard TD run, but Dedeaux took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a TD to bump the lead to 55-39.
Dedeaux then capped the next drive with a 15-yard TD run to make it 63-39 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter that all but ended Mililani’s chances.
“We wanted to run and get 3 or 4 yards, eat the clock and slow the game down,” said Muraco. “We didn’t have a true number one running back coming into the game. But when you have a talented kid like Ethan, you have to make sure he touches the ball. He didn’t do any running back reps all week. We just told him to get back there and run the ball.”
Chad Tebay led Liberty with 227 yards on 26 carries.
“The O line was amazing,” said Dedeaux. ” It was the best I have ever seen. They got it done.”
So did the Patriots.