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Liberty Middle School Knights look to add to program’s historical success
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The Liberty Middle School football team is currently undefeated as the defending NewRock Champions. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — Liberty Middle School football practices have been lively and full of energy as of late and for good reason. The Knights are currently undefeated and have shut out all of their opponents in 2022.

But there’s more than just this year’s success the Knights are excited about. 

Liberty’s program is built on a foundation of championships and having players contribute almost immediately on the varsity level of high school football. 

Head coach Toby Davis categorized the Knights’ program using two words: Title town.  

“Liberty is like a dynasty over here,” Davis said. “When you come here to Liberty, there’s a high expectation of discipline, learning, having the grades and you’re going to have success here. We’re going to lead, shape and mold to help them be successful at the next level.” 

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Toby Davis is entering his sixth season as Liberty's head football coach. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

Liberty has won the NewRock Championship in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2021. It is coming off a season, too, that Liberty’s football program finished eighth in the state of Georgia. 

The Knights have taken it to a new level by not losing a single game in two years. This year, specifically, they haven’t even allowed a score of any kind to their opponents. 

Davis explained his defensive philosophy behind the Knights’ domination. 

“Nobody hasn’t even gotten close to scoring on us,” Davis said. “Our defensive success is being able to adjust and adapt to anything. We have to adjust to the run, the pass and prepare for everything. These guys we’ve got can do both. They’re more dynamic. They are prepared for any offense you throw at them.” 

Davis said the carry over from last year’s success is largely due to the amount of seventh graders who returned for their eighth grade seasons. 

Players such as Adryan Cole, Brandon Nolley, Martez Jones, Chris Paggett, Azeir Johnson, Makai Robinson, Jordan Brown and Tony Smith were mentioned by Davis as leaders for this year’s team. 

Cole leads the team with five rushing touchdowns and, on defense, has 18 tackles and three sacks. Paggett has two touchdowns as well as 10 tackles and two sacks. Nolley recorded three touchdowns and 20 tackles defensively while forcing three fumbles. Jones has three rushing touchdowns and one passing. 

Johnson, who Davis labeled as a “defensive machine,” has eight sacks and 18 total tackles. Brown also recorded 21 tackles along with three sacks. 

Lastly, Robinson has a pick-6 on defense that he returned 55 yards for a touchdown. 

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The Knights have been hard at work this season in practice sharpening up their football skills in hopes of repeating as NewRock champions. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

In highlighting individual players, Davis recognized that it’s been a team effort all season. 

“We have kids on the field right now who are solid players who really want to learn and want to listen,” Davis said. “Even the younger players are eager to learn and understand their positions.”  

The aforementioned players will be freshmen in high school next season. 

Davis firmly believes they can join the long list of talent that Liberty has produced to go play varsity football and be successful. 

Seeing his players go to high school and be successful is the best part about coaching middle school football for Davis. 

“I like to see young men grow,” Davis said. “I want to see guys, when they leave here, they’ll be ready for the next level. And they’re going to have the IQ to play on the next level and compete.” 

Before this group of eighth graders depart from the Knights’ program next year, they have one goal in mind: Repeat as NewRock champions.

And they’ve been working hard to accomplish just that, according to Davis. 

“On the field, you’re only seeing the finished product,” Davis said. “No one knows what they went through to get there. No, they’re not just good, they’re going to be great, because of all the work they’ve put into it.” 

But winning back-to-back NewRock Championships won’t be easy to do.

Davis has full faith, though, that the 2022 Knights can add to the steep history of success at Liberty Middle School as long as they do their part. 

“[The players] need to understand that when they go out of the field they need to continue to win,” Davis said. “Because opponents are coming to give you their best game. We always have to have the mindset to go in there playing to win, not just to sit out there and say, ‘Hey. I’m out here.’”