Vindy.com

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 239 yards and four TDs as Liberty beat Struthers.



Click here for a photo gallery of the game.

Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 239 yards and four TDs as Liberty beat Struthers.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

LIBERTY — A couple years ago, when Dallas Saunders was still an assistant at Chaney, the Cowboys scrimmaged Akron Garfield, which had a running back named Chris Wells who was headed to Ohio State.

Saunders came away impressed.

Friday night, the Struthers head coach had a similar feeling after watching Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint juke, jive, spin and accelerate past his team — sometimes breaking a few tackles along the way — on his way to 239 yards and four touchdowns.

"He's a special back," said Saunders after his team's 43-22 road loss to the Leopards. "I don't know that he's quite at that [Wells'] level, but he's the best I've seen in awhile."

Toussaint, who ran for 261 yards and five touchdowns in a win against Salem last week, was held relatively in check in the first half, gaining 73 yards, losing a fumble and scoring a touchdown to help Liberty to a 22-14 lead.

Just before halftime was over, an observer looked over at one of the Liberty assistants in the press box and said, "I want to see Fitz get the ball more."

The assistant smiled and said, "So do I."

Taking control

Toussaint promptly got the ball on Liberty's first three plays and took the last one 48 yards for his second touchdown.

"That's my mindset — I feel like I can score every time I touch the ball," he said. "And if I don't score, I at least try to get five or 10 yards."

Toussaint added two more touchdowns before getting pulled midway through the fourth quarter.

"Let's face it, we're always going to get the ball to Fitz," said Liberty coach Jeff Whittaker. "But we've got to distribute the ball to other guys to make Fitz's carries count.

"We're not the type of team that's going to line up and give him the ball 30 times. We're more interested in yards per carry."

Toussaint averaged 12 yards per carry, but considering he started cramping up in the fourth — a result of logging time at defensive back — Whittaker's game plan was smart. Besides, with weapons like running Ira Cross (60 yards, almost all of them in traffic) and fullback Julius Ferrell (23 yards, all of them punishing), Toussaint didn't need to carry the load by himself.

"That's what makes our offense go," said Whittaker, who also got 54 yards passing from quarterback Justin Machamer. "We can throw the ball but we're not going to come out in the spread, at least not this week."

Nice start

Struthers, which was coming off a nice win over Springfield last week, started the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Rob Edwards. ("That wasn't too good, was it?" Whittaker said.)

The Wildcats took a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Morell to Tony Valiquette late in the first quarter.

But Liberty's defense, which was inconsistent in the first half, tightened up and held Struthers to just seven points the rest of the way. The Wildcats cut the deficit to 29-22 late in the third but couldn't get closer.

"We played hard but we always play hard," said Saunders, whose team's lack of size and depth took a visible toll as the game wore on. "We need more than that. I felt good about our start but we need to play four quarters."

Morell finished 6-of-14 for 78 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for Struthers (1-1), which also lost a fumble. Sam Valiquette finished with 38 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.

Cross, Floyd Showers and Jamon Wagner each had interceptions for Liberty. Cross returned his 95 yards for a touchdown.

"We lost three Division I players on our defense so we're still pretty young and inexperienced back there," said Whittaker, referring to Kenny Jackson (Ohio), Jonathan Wells (Miami, Ohio) and Ryan Gillum (Syracuse). "We did some good things, but we're still learning.

"We just need to be more consistent."

scalzo@vindy.com

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Click here for a photo gallery of the game.

Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 239 yards and four TDs as Liberty beat Struthers.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

LIBERTY — A couple years ago, when Dallas Saunders was still an assistant at Chaney, the Cowboys scrimmaged Akron Garfield, which had a running back named Chris Wells who was headed to Ohio State.

Saunders came away impressed.

Friday night, the Struthers head coach had a similar feeling after watching Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint juke, jive, spin and accelerate past his team — sometimes breaking a few tackles along the way — on his way to 239 yards and four touchdowns.

"He's a special back," said Saunders after his team's 43-22 road loss to the Leopards. "I don't know that he's quite at that [Wells'] level, but he's the best I've seen in awhile."

Toussaint, who ran for 261 yards and five touchdowns in a win against Salem last week, was held relatively in check in the first half, gaining 73 yards, losing a fumble and scoring a touchdown to help Liberty to a 22-14 lead.

Just before halftime was over, an observer looked over at one of the Liberty assistants in the press box and said, "I want to see Fitz get the ball more."

The assistant smiled and said, "So do I."

Taking control

Toussaint promptly got the ball on Liberty's first three plays and took the last one 48 yards for his second touchdown.

"That's my mindset — I feel like I can score every time I touch the ball," he said. "And if I don't score, I at least try to get five or 10 yards."

Toussaint added two more touchdowns before getting pulled midway through the fourth quarter.

"Let's face it, we're always going to get the ball to Fitz," said Liberty coach Jeff Whittaker. "But we've got to distribute the ball to other guys to make Fitz's carries count.

"We're not the type of team that's going to line up and give him the ball 30 times. We're more interested in yards per carry."

Toussaint averaged 12 yards per carry, but considering he started cramping up in the fourth — a result of logging time at defensive back — Whittaker's game plan was smart. Besides, with weapons like running Ira Cross (60 yards, almost all of them in traffic) and fullback Julius Ferrell (23 yards, all of them punishing), Toussaint didn't need to carry the load by himself.

"That's what makes our offense go," said Whittaker, who also got 54 yards passing from quarterback Justin Machamer. "We can throw the ball but we're not going to come out in the spread, at least not this week."

Nice start

Struthers, which was coming off a nice win over Springfield last week, started the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Rob Edwards. ("That wasn't too good, was it?" Whittaker said.)

The Wildcats took a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Morell to Tony Valiquette late in the first quarter.

But Liberty's defense, which was inconsistent in the first half, tightened up and held Struthers to just seven points the rest of the way. The Wildcats cut the deficit to 29-22 late in the third but couldn't get closer.

"We played hard but we always play hard," said Saunders, whose team's lack of size and depth took a visible toll as the game wore on. "We need more than that. I felt good about our start but we need to play four quarters."

Morell finished 6-of-14 for 78 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for Struthers (1-1), which also lost a fumble. Sam Valiquette finished with 38 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.

Cross, Floyd Showers and Jamon Wagner each had interceptions for Liberty. Cross returned his 95 yards for a touchdown.

"We lost three Division I players on our defense so we're still pretty young and inexperienced back there," said Whittaker, referring to Kenny Jackson (Ohio), Jonathan Wells (Miami, Ohio) and Ryan Gillum (Syracuse). "We did some good things, but we're still learning.

"We just need to be more consistent."

scalzo@vindy.com

Saturday, September 1, 2007
A couple years ago, when Dallas Saunders was still an assistant at Chaney, the Cowboys scrimmaged Akron Garfield, which...