MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KGET) — Liberty High School’s 21-16 loss to Serra High School in the CIF Division 1-A football championship game was painful to its players and coaching staff but the experience of getting there should not get overshadowed by the result of one game, head coach Bryan Nixon said.

“At the end of the day, what they’ve done this year has been amazing.” Nixon told 17’s Chris Burton after the game.

The revered head coach who received support this week from Liberty alumni, now current NFL players like Krys Barnes urged his players to keep their heads up and enjoy the moment.

“The things that they’ve accomplished this year and what they have and the memories are going to take away from this are going to last forever,” he said.

The state championship game appearance was the furthest any Liberty team had reached and they’re hopeful of getting back and earn an elusive state championship.

Liberty 16 – Serra 21, Final

CIF Division 1-A State Football Championship

Liberty took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but Serra scored on a 12-yard misdirection handoff late in the quarter. Receiver Troy Crozier took the handoff up the left sideline and an extra point gave them a 7-3 lead.

The Patriots took a 9-7 lead into halftime following a run by quarterback Carson Woods in a game where defenses dominated in the first half. Serra’s defense stopped Liberty’s drives into the red zone.

In the third quarter, Serra quarterback Maalik Murphy faked a handoff and dropped a pass to a sweeping Kai Honda for a 1-yard touchdown. An extra point gave them a 14-9 lead they would not give up.

In the fourth quarter, after a big stop by Liberty’s defense at midfield, a punt by Serra pinned Liberty at their own 1-yard line. The Patriots would’ve needed a near perfect drive of the length of the field to get past Serra’s stout defense up to that point.

On the following drive, Liberty quarterback Carson Woods felt pressure in the end zone, and attempted a jumping throw but it was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Serra’s Tre’ Harrison. Serra led 21-6 with six minutes left in the game.

The teams traded field position and Liberty’s Woods would scramble for another touchdown late to bring the Patriots within 5 points but a failed onside kick attempt sealed the win for the Serra Cavaliers.

Liberty ended their season with an 11-3 record.

This story was first published on Dec. 11, 2021 and has since been updated.

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KGET) — Liberty High School is looking to become the first Bakersfield team to win a state Division 1-A football championship since 2013.

They take on Serra (Gardena) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo beginning at 4 p.m.

Follow Chris Burton and FFX on Twitter for live updates.