By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
It may have been senior recognition in Liberal, but it was a freshman from Bishop Carroll that stole the show.
Denzel Goolsby ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns to help the Golden Eagles to a 54-7 win over Liberal Friday night at Redskin Field.
And Goolsby didn’t see the field until Bishop Carroll already had a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
By the end of the game, Liberal had run 43 plays for a total of 97 yards while Bishop Carroll gobbled up 477 yards on 58 plays.
Carroll averaged 8.2 yards per play to the Redskins 2.2.
Injuries from earlier in the season left Redskin coach Cliff Abbott looking for freshmen to play on Friday night.
Rex Heronemus saw his first action in the backfield for the varsity and rushed for Liberal’s first two first downs of the game that did not come with the help of a penalty.
Heronemus also rushed for Liberal’s only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter that allowed the Redskins to avoid the shutout.
Caleb Wehling continued to fill in for injured quarterback Britton Abbott, but the Redskins never challenged the Carroll defensive backs downfield. All the passes, all 11 of them, were short passes of less than 15 yards. Liberal’s biggest pass play of the night was a nine-yard gain by Michael Sena.
Liberal did not fare much better on the ground, either.
Erving Altamarino broke loose on a run late in the fourth quarter for 33 yards to set up the Heronemus touchdown. That one run made sophomore Altamarino Liberal’s leading rusher on the night.
The story of young players continued as Liberal searched for any way possible to slow down the Golden Eagles.
The answer would never come.
Run after run was met by a host of Golden Eagle defenders, and while Wehling completed six of 11 passes, two of his incompletions were dropped.
But the Golden Eagles weren’t dropping anything, making shoestring catches and gashing the Redskin defense.Carroll quarterback Zeke Palmer completed 13 of 17 attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for another.
Carroll’s sideline was crowded with players as well with 99 listed on the roster, and only one of those, Goolsby, was a freshman.
“I think they brought a trainload,” Abbott said after the game. “Bishop Carroll is a good team. They have an excellent program. They did a great job. They won every aspect of the game.”
After the Garden City game, Abbott said the film would be shelved, but he had a different view of the recording of the Carroll game.
“We’re going to keep it and evaluate it,” he said. “They will be back on the schedule.”
Liberal is having to play a number of underclassmen on Fridays, something that Abbott said prior to the season could be a problem if the team suffered injuries.
They have, starting with standout running back and linebacker Justin McPhail who went down early in the season. He was followed by Brad Denton, Britton Abbott, Nolan Larkin and other starters.
Sophomores and freshmen have been called into duty, even on Senior Recognition Night.
“We have freshmen in key spots,” Abbott said. “It will pay off in time. We were moving the ball. For the seniors, the future is Friday night. The future is now. I feel like these seniors are giving us something to build on with the younger players.”
Abbott said the work ethic and commitment of the seniors will be the legacy they will pass on to the next group of Redskins.
“This is not the record they wanted to give to their community,” Abbott said. “But they will fight to the end. I like the direction they have us headed.”
The one aspect of the game that obviously concerned Carroll was the ability of Trenton Hammond to return kickoffs. Carroll refused to kick the ball to Hammond until the Golden Eagles had a 50-point lead.
“That’s a great attribution to Trenton,” he said. “They were trying to keep it away from him. We are developing up Mauricio (Neal) to put back there with him.”
Both Neal and Hammond are sophomores.
The loss dropped Liberal to 1-6 on the season and 0-1 in district.
Liberal will travel to Hutchinson Friday to face the No. 2 Salt Hawks.
Hutchinson defeated Wichita West 62-12.