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Freedom Football remains “#56strong” in honor of late 2018 alum, Seth Weismantle, in win against New Brighton, 16-14

Written by: on Saturday, October 6th, 2018

 

With the events on Monday, Oct. 1, it was admittedly an emotional week for the Bulldogs. The death of 2018 alum, Seth Weismantle, struck the team at its core. Losing a member of the “football family” isn’t easy, according to the several on the team. Many of the players took to social media to express their grief when the news surfaced, referring to Weismantle as a “brother,” “best friend” and “teammate.” Emotionally, it was difficult for the team to focus during this week of practice, according to head coach, Russ Barley.

“It’s been an emotional week. Monday was essentially an off day. We lost a day of practice just because the kids weren’t going to be able to do anything,” Barley said. “All in all, it was a difficult week for everybody. The kids wanted to dedicate the game to him… It was just kind of something, a little dark cloud hanging over us all week.”

The first scoring play of the game was made in the dwindling seconds of the first half, with senior Nick DiNardo kicking a field goal for the Bulldogs. Halfway through the third quarter, the

Senior Zach Rosa broke the previous all time career touchdown pass record at Freedom with 32 passes. The previous record was set by  2002 graduate Matt Brown with 31 career touchdown passes. Above, Rosa looks to pass the ball down the field to one of his fellow players in hopes of gaining yardage and scoring a touchdown. Rosa led the Bulldogs in passing yards with 10/14 completed passes for a total of 123 yards.

momentum started to pick up for Freedom when senior Noah Yeck had a 5-yard reception pass from senior Zach Rosa, marking the score 10-0.

Rosa had another completed touchdown pass to senior Noah Henderson in the fourth quarter, adding another six points to the board, seeing as though the extra point attempt from DiNardo failed.

With both completed touchdown passes, Rosa has officially broken the previous all time career touchdown pass record at Freedom with 32 passes. The previous record holder was 2002 graduate Matt Brown, who had set the record at 31 career touchdown passes.

“It’s an honor, but I was really focused on the game. I think I’ll soak it in more tonight and tomorrow, but it’s definitely cool,” Rosa said.

The Freedom sideline grew tense in the tail-half of the fourth quarter, as New Brighton started their come back. The first touchdown for the Lions, scored by junior Jacob Francona with 6:15 remaining in the game, was accompanied by a successful two-point conversion.

Again, New Brighton reached the end zone with 51.9 seconds left on the clock, but their attempt at another two-point conversion was unsuccessful, marking the final score of the game at 16-14, Freedom. Junior Rocco Beightley was on the receiving end of the 11-yard touchdown pass from Francona.

Admittedly, the remaining minutes of the game were tight for the Bulldog defense with New Brighton coming alive, according to Barley. Barley gave much credit to senior Cody Ross for his overall play, aiding the Bulldogs in their victory.

“Because of what they did defensively, we really had to call on Cody to [do] all the work tonight. I mean, they took away the other kids, and it was hard to throw the ball with the field conditions, which is not an excuse,” Barley said. “So, I just tried to put it in Cody’s hands and they had a heck of a time trying to stop him. The other kids made some big runs when we needed them and made some great catches. Everybody did their thing, but tonight was Cody’s night.”

Senior Cody Ross (43) attempts to break away from New Brighton sophomore Nyasanu Greene (1) as he braces for an incoming tackle from New Brighton senior, Caleb Shuler (5). Ross led the Bulldogs in rushing yards against the Lions with 25 carries for a total of 121 yards.

Ross was humble about his play, though, stating that “We won the game tonight, which is all I really care about at the end of the day.”

Tonight, the Bulldogs also clenched their first winning season since 2003. With the circumstances of the week, this win was big in multiple areas, according to the team.

“It was awesome. The team came together at the end of the game. We didn’t give up when things weren’t going our way and we did it just like Seth would have wanted us to do,” Rosa said.

While this week’s game was hard-fought, according to Barley, the team needs to remain focused on the rest of the season. Next week, the Bulldogs host Neshannock on Saturday, Oct. 13 for their Homecoming game at 7:00.

“It was a good feeling to get the win for Seth, you know, it was a great win, great feeling. He’s going to be missed dearly, but now we really have to focus on Neshannock and finish the season off strong,” Ross said.

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