After playing two out-of-state games in 2016 and finding its way into the Super 25 rankings during the year, Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) will travel outside the state two more times in 2017. The Patriots will head to Arizona and Florida for a pair of high-profile matchups, and will also host a game at UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Liberty will open at Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) on Aug. 25. Saguaro won the Arizona 4A state title last season and finished ranked No. 18 in the USA Today Super 25.
The following week, Liberty visits American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), which captured the 6A state title and ended the season ranked No. 14 in the Super 25.
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“The only way you can gain any national recognition is by being able to take on quality opponents,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco told the Review-Journal. “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.”
The Patriots also are scheduled to host Long Beach Poly (Calif.) on Sept. 8 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Last year, they traveled to Westlake (Austin, Texas) and won, 21-14, and visited Centennial (Corona, Calif.) and fell 49-32. They reached the Class 4A state title game before falling to mighty Bishop Gorman, 84-8, and the Patriots finished the year at 12-2.
“The last two years, we’ve lost four games, and every team we’ve lost to has been in the top 20 (nationally),” Muraco told the Review-Journal. “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.”