The Liberty Eagles have clinched the Class 4 Northwestern District football championship, so maybe they don’t mind if Fauquier wins this year’s Bird Bowl.
Don’t even dream about it, Fauquier.
At 9-0 the Eagles are hell-bent on coming into Falcon Field and burying the Falcons yet again to finish the regular season 10-0. Fauquier is the last district foe for the Eagles to try to dominate and they want the Falcons’ scalps.
“That game means everything. We have been talking about getting an undefeated season since I moved up here in seventh grade,” senior Tre’von White said. “Now we are here undefeated and getting to face Fauquier.”
Liberty has won 16 straight Bird Bowls, so you can argue there’s just as much pressure on them to keep beating the Falcons forever.
“The rivalry with Fauquier is huge,” Eagles coach Travis Buzzo said. “Nobody ever wants a streak to end. We want to stay perfect and it is a cross-county rival, and it can’t get much better than that.”
The Falcons’ progress this year is undeniable. They’ve gone from 0-10 last season to 4-5 and had plenty of highlights for first-year coach Karl Buckwalter, including a strong 21-7 win over Kettle Run, a dramatic 14-13 win over Heritage and a 32-0 blowout of Northwestern District Class 3 champion Brentsville.
The Falcons are built around some talented players and a solid defense, but they’re again huge underdogs. Liberty is peaking offensively and defensively. Some clutch district road wins have hardened the Eagles, who take great pride in crushing Fauquier’s dreams in the Bird Bowl.
Three or four weeks ago, this game looked like more of a tossup. Since then Liberty has reeled off wins against Sherando, Millbrook, James Wood and Handley to leave district rivals shaking their heads in admiration.
Fauquier lost last Friday to Sherando 48-14 to fall to 2-4 in the district.
Buckwalter is preparing for the Liberty juggernaut by using the same psychological strategy with his kids that worked against Kettle Run.
“The message is very simple but powerful,” Buckwalter said. “Sixteen years of community frustration can be erased in 48 minutes. Leaving a legacy is what we have been saying since day one.”
Fauquier famously let a Bird Bowl slip away in 2016. Liberty players were beginning to cry when the Falcons had the ball and a first down at the LHS 12 with over a minute to go, but a fumble and 86-yard drive got the Eagles an amazing 28-27 win.
Eagle running back Mason Gay said the Eagles won’t overlook the Falcons.
“We have to stay humble,” he said. “We have to play hard because Fauquier always plays hard against us.”