By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
The table decorations at the annual Liberal High School football banquet included state championship trophies from years past.
One of the trophies pre-dated state championships.
It was a bronze-colored football from 1926 that listed the Redskins as the Champions of the Great Southwest.
Liberal’s 1926 team not only won all 10 games they played, but they did not allow a single point all season.
The scores of each game were on the trophy that has been sitting in a display case at Liberal High School (and the previous Liberal High School) for 85 years.
While the 2011 team did not have the success they wanted, former Redskin and Kansas Jayhawk Al Shank reminded the team of a heritage they all share.
“While it’s neat to see all of the trophies, the one from 1926 is my favorite,” he said. “That is our lineage. The team that I played on in 1972 that lost the state championship two to nothing — that’s our lineage. All the great teams from the ’90s, that’s our lineage. We are brothers. We share the same lineage.”
Liberal finished the season 2-8 in Cliff Abbott’s first season as head coach in 2011.
The Redskins were decimated by early-season injuries including the loss of starting running back Justin McPhail, defensive end and tight end Brad Denten, and quarterback Britton Abbott.
Abbott and Denten were able to return for the final game of the season.
But Shank and Abbott both shared that next season does not begin in August.
“Next season begins now,” Shank said. “You know it’s too late to wait until August. You need to be working now. You faced some adversity this season. How are you going to deal with that? Will it challenge you? Will it define you? Your folks can tell you that challenges don’t stop after high school. How are you going to deal with them?”
Following the keynote address from Shank, letters were given out along with senior recognition and All-WAC certificates.
The team also gave some individual awards. Heath Parmenter was recognized by his teammates as the Most Improved.
Bram Abbott was Most Inspirational. Isac Gallegos was recognized as the Outstanding Back.
Zach Stout received the Outstanding Linemen Award.
Britton Abbott was the team’s Most Valuable Player.