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In any typical year, there would have been ample time – if that – for Matt Hoefs to build his foundation at Liberty.
Hoefs was hired in late July to become Liberty’s new football coach – a time period that would usually be right before fall camp officially begins. A little more than a month later, the regular season would begin.
But, due to the season being pushed back to January, Hoefs and his staff are utilizing this extra time period to their advantage to usher in this latest era of Lions football.
“It’s gone pretty well,” Hoefs said. “We built our staff here pretty quick. Obviously being hired in late July in any normal football season would be really, really hectic, but we’re kind of looking at it from a positive point of a view of maybe them pushing back the season gives us a little chance to let our new kind of get settled in, let our coaches learn from each other, especially with two new coordinators.”
When Hoefs – whose head coaching experience includes stints at Arroyo and Dublin – took over, he was inheriting a program steeped in success in recent years and one that was amidst its best stretch in school history.
Jeff Walters led Liberty into deep playoff runs. And then Ryan Partridge, who accepted a job in the college ranks over the summer, coached Liberty to a 34-5 record in three seasons while winning the program’s first-ever state crown in 2018.
But the transition has been seamless into this new era. Players are buying in and say not much has changed from one head coach to the next, even with a talented senior class graduating and other roster moves during the offseason.
Plus, Hoefs was an assistant for Partridge before receiving the promotion to take over the reins of the program.
“He’s worked with coach Partridge before,” said Liberty junior linebacker/safety Colin Borrelli. “He’s good friends with him, so nothing’s really changed. It feels good. He’s a great role to step in for coach.”
With the culture in place, Hoefs and the young crop of talent the Lions possess are looking to build their own legacy.
They understand that the previous three seasons featured wins nearly every single Friday. They understand a state title banner hangs in the gymnasium.
Now is their time to shine and accomplish some special things.
“Core values – we just want to get better every day,” Hoefs said. “And we don’t want to live in the past, but we want to embrace what we’ve accomplished. We want to make sure that the future is bright, and we’re working hard to make sure that every year is a new opportunity for our program to do something special, so I think it’s important that we kind of instill that in everybody that, ‘Hey, every year is an opportunity to do something special.’”
And accomplishing special things is just what they are bracing for, highlighting an abundance of strengths up and down the roster.
At every position, there is some sort of competition. There’s depth at every spot. There are players coming up through the ranks who shined at the sub-varsity levels.
There isn’t just one strength on this unit, according to Hoefs, and that’s just what he and his players like.
“Like last year’s team you could have pointed to the, especially the defensive and offensive lines, they were really, really talented,” Hoefs said. “I think all the groups are pretty equal. There’s depth at every position, and I think that’s just going to make us a better team because it’s just make everybody work just that much harder to get some playing time.”
“We’re young, but we have a good team,” said Liberty sophomore quarterback Nate Bell. “We’ll definitely compete this year.”
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