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What it means to be part of Liberty High School football

Hunter Steacker practices at Liberty on Oct. 22, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo
Hunter Steacker practices at Liberty on Oct. 22, 2020. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo

In 2018, Liberty High School won a long awaited state championship. Not every school is able to build the type of program that wins state championships. It takes putting a lot of talent on the field, but there are values the team holds themselves to that puts them above the competition.

While most teams in any sport will have a list of rules that their players need to follow to be a contributing member of the team, first-year Liberty head coach Matt Hoefs is not a fan of this. However, he understands that each team needs to have basic rules like showing up on time and being a good teammate. Hoefs wants his players to hold themselves to a higher standard.

“I am not big on having a set list of rules that you either break or do not break,” Hoefs said. “It’s more like standards of the way we do stuff, and if you do not fit that, you are not getting the playing time”.

Hoefs does not feel the need to force rules and control the way players act on the field. He trusts that his players have bought into the teams standards and ways of handling themselves. Hoefs knows this because if a player is not maintaining the standards they will not be getting the reps.

Ahead of a possible season, Hoefs said to look out for senior running back Jaylin Thompson. Thompson is a player that knows what it means to be a part of Liberty football. He has been injured the last two seasons due to injuries suffered in basketball. While he has not received any collegiate offers due to these injuries, Thompson is keen on the idea playing at the next level. He knows that the Liberty football program has prepared him to do this.

“They are going to push you to the limit no matter what,” Thompson said. “ They want you to be the best person you can be.”

The way the coaches push their players to get better and hold themselves at a higher standard is what pushes players like Thompson to continue learning the game and being engaged. Despite the past injuries, Thompson is ready and eager to have a season and prove what he can do on the field.

“He is one of those under the radar guys,” Hoefs said. “He is a really good football player, and when we get the chance to play, I think he will turn some heads.”

Liberty remains hopeful there is a season so that Thompson can get out there and showcase his skills to people. He is currently looking at Diablo Valley, Laney and San Mateo to continue his football career at the junior college level.

The values and standards that Hoefs holds his team to put them above the competition because of how engaged their players are. Look for the Liberty football team and Jaylin Thompson to be standouts in the event that a season happens, as they look to build on a 10-win season in 2019 and that state title run in 2018. 

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