CLEAR FORK - The last time we saw Liberty's Ryan Simms, the then-freshman was rushing for 131 yards and scoring four touchdowns in a season-ending 30-0 victory over Wyoming East.
Apparently Simms likes running against Wyoming County teams.
The sophomore rushed for a career-best 215 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns as Liberty beat Westside 44-20 Friday night in the season opener for both teams at the Burial Ground.
Given Simms' previous performance, Friday's contest wasn't exactly a breakout game.
"He had four touchdowns against Wyoming East at the end of 2018," coach Mark Workman said. "So we were kind of high on Ryan all summer, trying to get him in the weight room. I think this is what's to come from Ryan."
"It was pretty good," Simms said. "I just have to give it to the linemen. Their blocks were amazing. Everything was on key."
Was it ever for the Raiders.
Not so much for the Renegades, who had trouble in run game all evening.
Aside from 60 yards on 14 carries from quarterback Blake Goode, the Raiders had 13 carries for 37 yards. Goode did throw for 119 yards (7 of 20) and three touchdowns. Ethan Blackburn had four catches for 102 yards and two scores.
The duo had no trouble reestablishing an old connection, one of few bright spots despite the fact that Goode was a running back last year and Blackburn did not play football.
"Me and Blake have played together our entire life, except last year," Blackburn said. "Every year we have played together he was the quarterback. We have always had a good connection between us and we've always been good friends."
Blackburn said he wasn't concerned about returning to the gridiron but was not happy with his play.
"I had a turnover on a punt that hurt us bad, and I missed a couple of balls I should have caught."
Simms used his shiftiness and speed to score two touchdowns in the first half, on runs of 13 and 35 yards. The two touchdowns gave the Raiders a 20-6 lead with 1:32 remaining in the half. But Goode and Blackburn hooked up on a 25-yard scoring pass after a 48-yard kick return by Isaac Mosley set the Renegades up in Raider territory.
That made it 20-14 at the half.
When Westside was stopped at the outset of the second half, deep in Liberty territory, the Raiders went on a long scoring drive, capped off by a 15-yard Simms score.
Goode found Blackburn from 40 to make it 27-20. From there the wheels fell off for Renegades.
Logan Doddrill, who had 115 yards, scored on a 22-yard run and Ethan Hill got the two-point conversion pass off a fake PAT.
Jeff Bowls helped the defense score when he sacked Goode in the end zone for a safety and the Raiders topped off the scoring in the fourth when Isaac Atkins scored on a nine-yard run.
It was the first time Liberty has beaten Westside since the season-opener in 2015.
"It hurts bad," Blackburn said. "We went into the game big-headed, really big-headed just looking down on them. That was our biggest mistake. We shouldn't have looked down on them like that. They came in and beat us all around."
Atkins was pressed into duty as a quarterback after Ian Sloan was injured on the third play of the game and he came through with 84 yards and two touchdowns and completed a pass for 25 more.
"We repped Isaac Atkins at quarterback all camp, just because we wanted to go in (to the season) with two quarterbacks who knew what they were doing," Workman said. "It turned out that wasn't a bad call at all. Ian got hurt, which is unfortunate, but Isaac stepped in and played well."
Daniel Reed had 14 tackles to lead the Renegades defense. Liberty rushed for over 400 yards in the game.
Simms' 215 yards was the most since Jacob Bailey rushed for 257 against Wyoming East in 2016.
"I'm not surprised any kid can do," Westside coach Herbie Halsey said. "Any kid that's got grit, determination and heart can do a lot of things. I am surprised by the lack of heart, determination and grit that came from our linebackers. All but one linebacker did what he was supposed to do and he's my quarterback (Goode) too. So what am I going to do? I just told him he was going to have to play Ironman football."
The Renegades have to put this one in the rear view fast with rival Wyoming East coming up Friday in the annual battle for the Golden Coal Shovel.
Liberty 44, Westside 20
Liberty 0 20 15 9 - 44
Westside 6 8 6 0 - 20
W - Spencer Kenney 13 pass from Blake Goode (runs failed), 2:57
L - Isaac Atkins 15 run (pass failed), 11:47
L - Ryan Simms 13 run (Isaac Adkins run) , 8:49
L - Simms 35 run (kick failed), 1:32
W - Ethan Blackburn 25 pass from Goode (Goode run), 0:49
L - Simms 15 run (Logan Doddrill kick), 5:21
W - Blackburn 40 pass from Goode (run failed), 3:22
L - Doddrill 22 run (Ethan Hill pass from Doddrill), 0:54
L - safety Goode tackled in end zone by Jeff Bowls, 4:23
L - Atkins 9 run (Doddrill kick)
RUSHING - L: Ryan Simms 14-215-3, Logan Doddrill 18-115-1, Isaac Atkins 16-84-2. W: Blake Goode 14-60, Jacob Barlow 1(-5), Cameron Hatfield 4-10, Daniel Reed 1-1, Isaac Mosley 1-(-13), Austyn Browning 1-5, Joshton Reed 2-21, Jaxson Cogar 1-7, Derrick Taylor 1-10.
PASSING - L: Isaac Atkins 1-7-125-0, W: Blake Goode 7-20-2-119-3
RECEIVING - L: Braden Howell 1-25. W: Ethan Blackburn 4-102-2, Spencer Kenney 3-17-1.