By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
At times Friday night, it seemed as if the Guymon Tigers wanted to make Cliff Abbott’s home coaching debut a good one.
The Tigers turned the ball over 10 times and struggled to stop the Angry Red offense in a 49-6 Liberal victory.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock while the Redskin freshmen were on the field, the players welcomed their new head coach to his first victory with a dousing of the water bucket.
Abbott didn’t seem to care.
He looked at his team with a smile and then headed across to shake hands with Guymon coach Bryan Ballard.
“Did it get colder out here?” Abbott said with a chuckle after the win and the soaking.
After dropping the opener to Ulysses on the road, Abbott said that he and his staff didn’t want a second breakdown against Guymon.
“We focused on the Redskins,” Abbott said. “We knew we had a good team, but we needed to challenge ourselves. We had a good week of practice. We practiced through the (Labor Day) holiday. We knew there wouldn’t be too many surprises because the coaching staff watched Guymon’s film over and over. We wanted to play as good as we could be.”
The final score indicated that the Redskins couldnt have played much better.
And the Redskin party in the end zone started early when Michael Sena intercepted Dakota Harris on the third play of the game and returned in 38 yards for a touchdown.
It was the first of 10 Guymon turnovers that aided the Redskins in the lopsided win.
The second turnover came when Guymon’s standout athlete Alan Williams received a punt and looked to move upfield. He was stripped and Michael Begley pounced on the ball for the Redskins.
Liberal’s Britton Abbott made a mistake of his own when Guymon’s Alex Zakrzewiez stepped in front of a Redskin receiver and intercepted Abbott. The Tiger returned the ball to the 3 yard line, and Williams plunged in to the end zone to tighten the game to 7-6.
Sena returned the ensuing kick-off 55 yards to the Tiger 31 yard line. Abbott ran for 24 yards on the first play of the drive, and later plunged across the goal line for a 14-6 Liberal lead.
Both teams struggled with turnovers starting with the ensuing kickoff. Liberal kicker Jesse Quintero hit a line drive that hit a Tiger in the heel and bounded right back to the Redskins. Isaac Gallegos covered the ball, but Guymon’s Gernaro Barrera intercepted Abbott to give the Tigers the ball.
But on their first play, Guymon threw a pass that was picked off by Trenton Hammond for the fourth Tiger turnover of the first quarter.
Hammond then caught a 38-yard pass and Gallegos galloped into the end zone form the 11 yard line for a 21-6 Liberal lead.
After a Tiger punt to the Liberal 16, Hammond hauled in another reception and streaked to a 70-yard touchdown and a 28-6 lead.
Williams received the following kick-off but was stripped. Sophomore Mauricio Neal jumped on the loose ball, and the Redskins had another short field.
Hammond caught the short eight yard pass for a touchdown and a 35-6 advantage.
With time running out on the half, Guymon put together a solid drive, moving the ball form their own 20 yard line to the Liberal 28 yard line before the nine-play drive stalled. The Tigers attempted a field goal, but it fell short.
Liberal then put together an impressive two-minute offensive drive that moved the ball form their own 20 yard line to the Tiger 30 yard line with 2.3 seconds remaining in the half.
Abbott sent Quintero out for a 47 yard field goal attempt, and the senior sent the ball through the uprights and into the arms of some Kids Inc. players who had gathered beyond the goal posts for halftime recognition.
Liberal’s Justin McPhail found the end zone in the first minute and a half od the second half. He picked up a first down ona third and three with a 12-yard run then took the hand-off form Abbott and scampered 37 yards for a touchdown and a 45-6 Liberal lead.
Liberal’s defense forced another Tiger turnover with an interception by Archie Mills, and Abbott called off the dogs by putting in his reserve backfield.
But that didn’t stop the Redskins from scoring.
Dalton Moody crossed the goal line form the 9 yard line to cap a 10-play, 64 yard drive and a 52-6 Liberal lead.
Gallegos intercepted another Tiger pass, and the Redskins recovered another Tiger fumble near the goal line to thwart the final scoring threat of the night for Guymon.
Liberal’s reserves advanced the ball to the Liberal 13 yard line, and Neal took a hand-off from Caleb Wehling and found a seam to the left, cut back around two Guymon defenders and sprinted 87 yards to the end zone for the 59-6 final score.
A few minutes later, the Redskin celebration started with the return of some traditions and the start of some new ones.
The Redskins sang the fight song with the band after the victory, and the victory bell sounded.
And Abbott had his first win.
“The difference was the offensive and defensive lines,” Abbott said comparing Week 1’s performance to Week 2.
While Williams gained 87 yards for the Tigers, he did not pose the deadly threat to the Redskins.
“The coaches did a good job of preparing for him,” abbott said. “We knew they would want him to touch the ball a lot. We had a guy with his jersey on at practice this week. Our coaches knew what they wanted to do with him. We adjusted for him, and when they changed, we changed with them.”
The next challenge for the Abbott and the Redskins will be more difficult. Liberal has lost 11 consecutive Western Athletic Conference games, and Friday the Hays Indians will make the trip to the Burial Grounds.
“Our team knows that Hays is a good team,” Abbott said. “They are senior led and well coached. They won’t make mistakes. When we broke down in the locker room, the team wanted to go on ‘Beat Hays.’ I’m looking for a barnburner.”