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Freedom continues to prepare for playoffs in win against Apollo Ridge, updating their record to 8-1

Written by: on Sunday, October 21st, 2018


Last week, the Bulldogs defeated the Lancers to wrap up their Homecoming weekend. As soon as the festivities were over, though, it was right back to work for the players. Practice and filming sessions were held all throughout the week to prepare for Apollo Ridge, for the new opponent was unfamiliar to the coaches and players.

After their game against Neshannock on Oct. 13, head coach Russ Barley remarked that “We’ve just gotten the chance to look at them [Apollo] a little bit.”

Coming straight out of the gate in the first two minutes of the game was senior Zach Rosa with a 57-yard touchdown pass received by senior wide receiver, Noah Yeck.

Shortly thereafter, senior Cody Ross was in the end zone for the Bulldogs again with a 2-yard run.

“We really came out prepared for the best. We ran every single formation that they did and we watched tape. Coach [Greg] Toney had a great game plan for tonight and we executed it to perfection,” Ross said.

Senior Cody Ross (43) carries the ball while escaping a tackle attempt in hopes of reaching the end zone. Ross was the rushing leader for the Bulldogs with 12 carries for a total of 86 yards and two touchdowns.

That wasn’t it for Freedom in the first quarter, though, with junior Max Ujhazy receiving a 6-yard pass from Rosa. The extra point attempt from senior Nick DiNardo failed, marking the final score of the quarter as 20-0, Freedom.

With the pass to Ujhazy, Rosa broke the previous single season touchdown pass record held by 2002 graduate, Matt Brown. Brown’s record stood at 17 completed touchdown passes, and with Ujhazy’s touchdown, Rosa’s record stood at 18 completed passes.

This is the second of Brown’s records that Rosa has broken, with the previous of which being the all time career touchdown pass record. Brown previously held the title with 31 completed touchdown passes.

“It feels awesome but right now I’m just focused on getting ready for this last week and the playoffs because I don’t want my senior year to end anytime soon,” Rosa said.

Senior Zach Rosa (5) looks in preparation to pass the ball while sophomore David Martsolf (51) anticipates coverage of his quarterback. Rosa led the game in passing yards going 8 and 10 for a total of 201 yards with three successful touchdown passes.

Going into the second quarter, the passes from Rosa continued. Senior Jake Pail found himself on the receiving end of a 34-yard pass from Rosa, reaching the end zone for Freedom. Going into halftime, the score read 27-0, Bulldogs still leading.

Halfway through the third quarter Ross had a 37-yard rush to the end zone. Trying something new for the evening, the Bulldogs attempted a two-point conversion. The pass from Rosa was successfully received by Pail, adding nine points to the board for Freedom.

“[I] just play the game I normally do: run tough, run hard, drag people, get extra yards when we need it,” Ross said. “But again in the long run the line did a good job and I saw an opening to cut outside and took it to house.”

Pail continued his play in the third quarter with an interception thrown by Apollo’s own Klayton Fitzroy. After a couple of drives from Freedom, Pail reached the end zone, ending the scoring runs for the Bulldogs.

Senior Jake Pail (21) intercepts a Viking pass intended for sophomore receiver Jake Fello (1). Pail led the Bulldogs in receiving yards with four catches covering a span on 104 yards. He also had one touchdown for the night, which closed out the scoring runs for Freedom.

In the fourth quarter, sophomore Logan Harmon had a 6-yard run for the Vikings, putting up seven points for Apollo Ridge. The final score of the game stood at 42-7, Freedom coming out victorious.

Statistically, Freedom was above Apollo Ridge in almost every aspect. The Bulldogs had 19 first downs, whereas the Vikings only had seven. In terms of yardage, Freedom had a total of 398 yards covered: 201 of which were passing, 197 rushing. Apollo Ridge had a total of 122 yards covered: 81 passing and 41 rushing.

One of the faults of the night on behalf of the Bulldogs was penalties, though. With 10 penalties for 65 yards, Freedom surpassed Apollo Ridge who only had three penalties for 15 yards. Another fault, according to Barley, was laziness.

“We did some things tonight I’m not happy about and we need to fix it — too many penalties,” Barley said. “When we got up 27-0, you could kind of see the kids relax a little bit. That I wasn’t happy with, but again, you’re playing somebody you really don’t know so you kind of exhale.”

Next week, the Bulldogs prepare to take on the Golden Beavers, home at Bulldog Stadium for a 7:30 start.

With their 8-1 record thus far, the boys are looking to overtake Western Beaver as their last section game moving into playoffs. With the potential win, Freedom will take the section title for the first time since 1977.

“To realize to go into 8-1, [we] will have the best record since 1977. I was in high school the last time when Freedom was this good. I think that now that’s where the kids are focused,” Barley said.

As of playoffs, the players and coaches are admittedly getting more and more excited as the game nears.

“We were talking about it; there’s a couple of really, really good teams in AA, and you have no choice but to go through them. At some point in time you have to play them,” Barley said. “We’ll take whoever they give us. I think at this point the kids absolutely believe that we can beat anybody.”

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