If there was a silver lining to the Dodge City High School Red Demon junior varsity football team's 23-16 loss to the Liberal Redskins Monday, it had to be two defensive stands near the goal line that kept the deficit from bloating any fatter than one touchdown.

    "The defense played well at times and came up big for us in the first quarter," said junior varsity coach Rollie Van Whye. "Everybody's still improving."


If there was a silver lining to the Dodge City High School Red Demon junior varsity football team's 23-16 loss to the Liberal Redskins Monday, it had to be two defensive stands near the goal line that kept the deficit from bloating any fatter than one touchdown.
    "The defense played well at times and came up big for us in the first quarter," said junior varsity coach Rollie Van Whye. "Everybody's still improving."
    After the Demon offense stumbled out of the gates and went three plays and out to open the game, Liberal running back Abe Benitez galloped all the way down to the Dodge City (2-2) two-yard line on a 33-yard run during Liberal's opening series. Eli Evinger's third-down tackle deep in Demon territory forced a field goal attempt that was blocked by Demon defensive lineman Bruce Campbell and scooped up by Matt Esquibel.
    The Demon offense responded by taking the early lead on the ensuing drive on a 54-yard touchdown bomb from Nick Brady to Benny Sotelo. Keanu Espinoza, down from varsity for the game, ran in the two-point conversion to put the Demons ahead 8-0 with four minutes, 14 seconds left in the opening frame.
    A long completion from Liberal (4-0) quarterback Tyson Deaton to Devon Davis got the Redskins' third drive going, but after more good defense from the Demons, the Redskins found themselves in a punting situation. Dodge muffed the punt and a Liberal defender Chandler Brockett fell on the fumble at the Dodge City two-yard line.
    Redskin running back Charles Turner cashed in the touchdown, and, after the two-point conversion, the game was tied 8-8. Liberal never looked back.
    "Liberal just outplayed us tonight," Van Whye said. "I feel like we're as good as they are, but they were one score better than we were."
    The Demon giveaways may have played a bigger role in the Liberal win than did anything special its offensive unit did during the game. Later in the quarter, a snap sailed over the head of Demon punter Garrett Salem's head, and the Redskins recovered the ball on the Demon 15.
    Deaton aired out a 15-yard touchdown pass during the series that put the Redskins up 15-8 before halftime. Another goal line stand for the Demon defense late in the third quarter gave the Demons a chance to get back in the game, but quarterback Nick Brady was sacked in the end zone for a safety on the third play after the Liberal turnover on downs gave the ball back to the Redskins.
    The score was 17-8 at the end of three quarters. Midway through the fourth, Matt McLane, another of the stable of Liberal running backs, ran over several Demon tacklers on the way to his 32-yard touchdown run that increased his team's lead to 23-8.
    The Demons' response came too-little, too-late when Christian Mills took a hand-off up the gut and to the house from 49 yards out. He was given a huge hole to run through, broke a tackle and split the secondary on his way to the end zone, and finished it off with the two-point conversion carry that brought the score to its final of 23-16 with 1:09 left to play.
    "Christian Mills is really improving," Van Whye said. "We’ve seen a lot of improvement in Nick [Brady]."
    Liberal was able to get one first down and kneel on the win.
    The Demon freshman team lost to Liberal as well, by a score of 12-8. The Demons took the early lead after a scoreless first quarter on a Todd Middleton run.
    But earlier in the drive resulting in the score, Demon quarterback B.J. Tieben was taken down on a play and suffered a season-ending injury according to coach Dustin Fergerson.
    Liberal's Jordan Stegman jumped on a Demon fumble in the third quarter for his team's first touchdown, and the Redskins took the lead and the game on a fumbled Demon snap that Jadon Stapleton was able to take in for a score.
    Both teams go to Great Bend to face the Panthers' freshman and JV squads.