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Freedom trumps Shenango in 63-0 win

Written by: on Saturday, September 1st, 2018

 

Senior Jake Pail (21) avoids a tackle before his first touchdown of the night in the first quarter of the game as senior players Zach Rosa (5) and Tanner Boyer (50) look on for potential coverage.

Starting their season off with back-to-back wins, the most recent being the 400th win in Freedom history, the Bulldogs are staking their claim in the District 7 2A lineup. Against the Wildcats, the boys started off and maintained their play, starting in the early minutes of the first quarter with senior Jake Pail scoring a leading touchdown.

“I think it says that we got a group of guys who prove that they want to come out every week and show that they want to be there to compete,” Jake Pail said.

Senior Cody Ross and junior Max Ujhazy were soon to follow, both with rushing plays to the end zone. The first quarter proved to be just a starting point with five touchdowns — four of which rushing and the other a complete 42-yard pass from senior Zach Rosa to senior Noah Henderson.

Of the scoring plays in the first, the last of which got the most reaction from red and white fans; with an interception pass, Rosa made a 40-yard return to the end zone, closing out the clock with 22.3 seconds to go.

“I think that it just put Shenango away and kept our momentum going into the second quarter,” Rosa said.

From the sidelines, coaches and players were ecstatic with the performance the boys on the field were giving, but all of it can be chalked up to hard work, per head coach Russ Barley.

“Our kids just came out ready to play tonight… If our kids get ready, we’re going to be able to play with anybody,” Barley said.

Junior Max Ujhaxy (32) carries the ball to gain rushing yards for the Bulldogs while avoiding a tackle at the 30 yard line.

After another touchdown from Jake Pail and a score of 42-0, the comfortable lead for the Bulldogs gave some of the younger players the opportunity to get out on the field. The experience, according to Barley and the upperclassmen, is crucial to future play.

“Absolutely, any chance I have to get the younger kids in, they need to get their shot on varsity,” Barley said. “The great leadership that we have with the older kids, they support everything we do.”

With the starters on the sidelines, the support from the older players to the younger showed. Junior Kevin Lawrence had another scoring run for the Bulldogs in the midst of the second quarter, making the score 49-0.

“It was awesome just [seeing] the young guys getting experience and having fun scoring. Our starters cheering them on and building a bond as everyone got involved for a 400th win in school history,” Rosa said.

With the young players in, defensive plays lead to interceptions from freshman Josh Pail, who then went on for his second touchdown of the season, and sophomore Tyrique Campbell.

Sophomore Brandon Pratte ended the scoring run for the Bulldogs in the third with a 68-yard touchdown rush, making the final score 63-0. Senior kicker/punter Nick DiNardo went 9/9 with extra point attempts as well, aiding the Bulldogs to their victory.

With strong leadership from the upperclassmen, as Barley mentioned, and an upcoming underclassmen roster, the coaching staff has high hoped for the rest of the season.

“It’s not just about football and what’s here, it’s just about bringing the whole community together. They’ve [the players] bought into that, and they want to be the leaders of it,” Barley said. “We’re trying to make big changes here, and hopefully it’s happening.”

Next week, the Bulldogs host Riverside at Bulldog stadium for a 7:30 match-up against the Panthers.

“Next week is probably the biggest game that Freedom’s had in years. Riverside is the team to beat in our league,” Barley said. “I think that this is probably the biggest game that Freedom’s had in years and we’re excited to get ready for next week.”

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