The Leopards in Liberty-Eylau have never been ones to back away from a challenge. That includes a notoriously brutal non-district schedule.

Since 2013, Liberty-Eylau has faced names such as Gilmer, Carthage, Texas High, Celina, Arkansas High, Tatum and Pleasant Grove in non-district. The Leopards took on Gilmer, Carthage, Texas High, Atlanta and Pleasant Grove this year in non-district, getting a win against Atlanta but were on the losing end in the other three games, including a one-point loss to Gilmer and a 10-point loss to No. 1 Carthage to start the season.

Coach Steve Wells isn't apologizing for anything, though.

"Somebody called it a ridiculously tough schedule, but in my opinion it helps us," Wells said on Tuesday. "In order to win you're going to have to play teams like that down the road in the playoffs. We lose to Gilmer by one point and could have easily won the Carthage game, but we're getting our confidence back and playing really well."

After a four-point loss to Paris in the District 7-4A Division I opener, Liberty-Eylau has since reeled off four consecutive wins. The Leopards are averaging nearly 50 points per game during the winning streak and will look to continue that against Brownsboro in the bi-district round of the 4A Division I playoffs at 7 p.m. Thursday in Pine Tree.

"The offense has been playing really well. We're spreading the ball around real well and making the big plays when we need to," Wells said.

Senior quarterback Decorian Phillips has been the driving force behind Liberty-Eylau's offensive firepower. Phillips has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season and 26 touchdowns, including 10 in the past two games. He threw six touchdowns and ran for another against Princeton on Nov. 3.

"I think (Phillips) has really matured a lot this year as far as being a leader, making the right reads and not doing his own things at times," Wells said. "He's really good at spreading the ball around and you can just cover one of our receivers. We've got confidence in all four of our receivers to catch the ball. They're all pretty tall, pretty fast and all have pretty good hands. That's a good problem to have."

Defensively, Wells said junior linebacker Cedric Phillips returns to the field this week, which will give the Leopards a boost on that side of the ball.

"When it's come time to get a stop our defense has bowed up and done it for us. I hope we keep getting that kind of effort," Wells said. "It always helps to get a big player back and Cedric Dickerson is probably best all-around player. Seeing him back on the field is going to be nice."

Slowing down Brownsboro's Wing-T offense is going to be the top priority for the Leopards' defense this week. Getting the necessary stops to give Phillips and the offense the opportunity to score is crucial, Wells said.

"They've got three really good backs and we have to do a good job of shutting down that offense and hopefully force them out of what they like to do," Wells said. "They're going to 3- and 4-yard you and we can't allow that to happen. We need to get up early because any time you can get up early on a team like that you try to force them to throw the ball."

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