PREPFOOT_WEEK3_BLOG

Fresno-Central quarterback Trent Tompkins threw for 3,624 yards and 37 touchdowns last season.

Liberty coach Bryan Nixon knows the numbers.

They are daunting.

But for him, the numbers on his side of the ball are pretty special, too.

The Patriots, seeded No. 3 in the Central Section Division I playoffs, play No. 1 Fresno-Central in the championship on Friday at Koligian Stadium in Fresno at 7 p.m.

The Grizzlies are 12-0 and have not lost to a section opponent since Bakersfield High beat Central, 21-14, in the D-I title game in 2016, a span of 21 games.

During that time, Trent Tompkins has become one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Central Section history.

The senior signal caller for Central has thrown for 4,080 yards,. That's just 299 yards shy of the single-season record of 4,379 set by Braden Wingle at Bakersfield Christian in 2016.

Tompkins is the single-season record holder with 55 touchdowns. The previous record was set by Brandon Jones of Bakersfield Christian in 2013.

Tompkins is also second all-time in career passing yards in section history with 10,822, trailing Sam Metcalf, who threw for 11,913 yards for Farmersville from 2011-14.

Tompkins has thrown for less than 300 yards only once this season, that being 196 in a blowout win over Sacramento-Grant back on Aug. 24.

Stopping Tompkins is not an option. Bakersfield High found that out last week as the Grizzlies won 46-34 with Tompkins accounting for all three fourth quarter touchdowns to go along with 319 passing yards, 109 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.

Oh, he can run, too.

Tompkins has 874 rushing yards and seven scores and is tied for second all-time in section history with 62 total touchdowns for a quarterback, one behind Shafter’s Alex Aguilar.

But football isn’t about one player, and Nixon is confident that last week's showing for Liberty proved that. Liberty beat Clovis-Buchanan, 24-23, as the Patriots ran 76 offensive plays to just 40 for Buchanan, which limited the amount of snaps for Buchanan's national recruits Kendall Milton and Jalen Cropper.

“To be able to double the amount of plays that they ran was huge,” Nixon said. “We need to keep their offense off the field. If we are able to come back and answer if they are able score, that just gives up opportunities. The longer our drives that we are able to finish in the end zone, the better off we are able to be.”

Liberty’s strong run-first offense — while not the norm anymore in the college and pro ranks — still works quite well at the high school level.

Sam Stewart, Jr. had a career-high 36 carries for 244 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots (12-1) ran the ball 52 times against the Bears, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Behind an offensive line that has two, three-year starters in Brycen Lindsey and Daniel Viveros, the Patriots can slow down Tompkins by keeping him off the field for long stretches of time.

“Our offensive line has always been a big part of our success because we’ve put a lot on them,” Nixon said. “We want to run the football. They have done a good job of getting (Stewart) to the second level and when he’s there, he’s been one of those guys that has either made a guy miss or hit a guy.”

Trevor Horn can be reached at (661) 395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @trevhorn.

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