Frisco Liberty, Newman Smith begin 9-4A play


7:30 p.m. Friday at Standridge Stadium

When we saw them last: Nondistrict went very differently for these two teams. Frisco Liberty went undefeated against light competition in Denison, Greenville and Royse City, while Newman Smith got blanked playing one of the tougher 4A nondistrict schedules in the area against Keller Central, Denton Ryan and Keller Fossil Ridge.

2010 result: Liberty trailed in the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns in the frame to take a 28-19 win en route to the District 9-4A title. Liberty running back Jay Ajayi ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns.

What’s at stake: Both teams are looking to get off to a good start in District 9-4A play, and a good start will be more important than ever with Frisco Centennial and Frisco poised to make a run at a 9-4A title.

Key matchup: Newman Smith’s offense vs. Liberty’s defense. Injuries have taken a toll on Newman Smith’s offense, which struggled through a difficult nondistrict schedule. It may not get any better against Liberty, whose strength is its defense.

Players to watch: Liberty quarterback Zach Smith is the lone returning starter for the Red Hawks offense. He has 360 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Newman Smith running back Jerome Akintunde leads the team in rushing with 246 yards and two touchdowns.

Prediction: Frisco Liberty 24, Newman Smith 21.