He Led Liberty-Brentwood To Its First Section Title In Year One — And Delivered A State Bowl Crown With His Encore •
History is starting to make a habit of following two-year Liberty High coach Ryan Partridge.
After leading the Lions to their first section title in 2017, Partridge set a higher bar for them in 2018. Expectations from the outside rose. So did the feeling that if everything went right, December might offer another opportunity to rewrite Liberty record books.
When that opportunity did arrive, Partridge and the Lions didn’t shrink from the challenge.
A trip to Cerritos College in Norwalk offered its share of obstacles, both on the field and off. Liberty was unfazed. The Lions capped an unforgettable season with a 19-17 victory over Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth in the CIF Division 1-A State Bowl title game.
Liberty certainly didn’t lack for talent. But for all the talent on the field, a culture of unselfishness made all the difference. It proved critical as Partridge guided his squad through a month-long hiatus due to devastating Northern California wildfires, the North Coast Section Open Division playoffs and a CIF NorCal road victory over Valley Christian-San Jose.
“The number one thing with this team, I’ve never seen it in my life, is the lack of egos,” Partridge said. “We had some big time football players and everyone was about the team. There was not one kid on this team, not one coach on this team that was ego-centric.
We set the goal as a state championship early in the summer and that was the focus.”
For the final step in Southern California, Partridge had to lean less on his typical preparation methods and more on his team’s resolve. Game planning had to take a back seat to athletic director duties. Film study shared time with the logistical challenge of making sure his team had hotel rooms, busses and food.
Sticking to a script that had worked time and again proved critical. Once the first half nerves subsided, Liberty got to work. Tyerell Sturges-Cofer’s 11-yard touchdown run, his third trip to paydirt of the evening, provided the eventual winning points.
The Lions earned their first bowl title despite the absence of leading tackler Nicky Einess, out due to injury. They also overcame a Sierra Canyon defense that limited a potent Liberty passing attack to just 117 passing yards.
“We thought we had a solid game plan and we were definitely going to do what we do on offense and on defense,” Patridge said. “But Sierra Canyon just did a great job of confusing us and sending some pressures we’d never seen from them before.
“The bottom line is the kids kept believing the whole entire time, persevered through and made some big plays.”
— Ben Enos