A-K Valley high school football notebook: Freeport shows grit despite loss

Saturday, September 30, 2023 | 5:53 PM

Despite his team not pulling out a victory in its Allegheny 6 opener against Shady Side Academy, Freeport coach John Gaillot reiterated Saturday the praise he had for his mix of youthful and veteran players in battling through adversity on and off the scoreboard in the 31-28 outcome.

The Yellowjackets rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the first half, answering Shady Side points with a 55-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Drew Ross to senior Brady Sullivan with three seconds on the clock.

Freeport again rallied in the second half with a pair of touchdowns — a 40-yard interception return by senior lineman Isaac Woods and a Ross 1-yard run — to erase a 10-point deficit.

Shady Side retook the lead, but the Yellowjackets were on the march as time wound down in the fourth. Well into Bulldogs territory, Freeport senior Colton Otterman ran for what appeared to be a first down, but it was called back on a chop block penalty, much to the dismay of Freeport players, coaches and the fans.

The drive eventually came to a halt on an interception at the SSA 20.

Ross’s 230 passing yards were the eighth most in any WPIAL game from Friday. Sullivan’s 125 receiving yards (six catches) were the fourth most.

Freeport (2-4, 0-1) hopes to get in the conference win column Friday at East Allegheny (4-2, 1-0).

Knights reign

Knoch continued its best start since 2019 when it began 5-0. The Knights are 5-1 overall after a 41-21 home victory Friday against Deer Lakes. They also own the best record among all Alle-Kiski Valley teams.

Knoch seeks to keep things going Friday against Shady Side Academy (4-2, 1-0).

The 2019 Knoch team suffered three straight conference losses after its 5-0 start and missed the playoffs, losing a tiebreaker to Montour and New Castle for a WPIAL berth in the Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference. Coach Tim Burchett hopes his team can avoid a similar outcome.

A balanced attack on offense hopes to produce more wins. Ethan Alwine rushed for 97 yards and three touchdowns against the Lancers, and Codi Mullen threw for 154 yards and rushed for 88 yards and accounted for two additional touchdowns.

Deer Lakes hopes to respond

Lancers coach Tim Burk said Friday’s loss to Knoch was frustrating in a number of ways, but while he looked back on the 41-21 setback to the rival Knights, he also was able to see the path forward for his team as it continues Allegheny 6 action and the conference’s sprint to WPIAL-playoff qualifications.

“(Knoch) didn’t do anything that we weren’t prepared for,” Burk said. “They are a good football team, and they played well and made plays. We just failed to have some bounces go our way. That is football.

“We told the kids (Saturday) that we can’t go back and do anything about Friday’s game. What they can do is look ahead to this week and get better, fix our mistakes, get healthy, and be ready for Valley (2-4, 0-1).”

The Lancers were whistled for 153 yards in penalties against the Knights, and a number of them thwarted opportunities to move the ball.

Leechburg bounces back

The Blue Devils didn’t have a Clairton hangover Friday night as the loss to the Bears from Sept. 15 was set aside in favor of a 59-8 victory at Frazier.

Leechburg (4-2, 2-1 Eastern Conference) got back to its winning ways behind sophomore Tim Andrasy, who ran six times for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Jayden Floyd damaged Frazier with 114 passing yards and a TD and 96 rushing yards and a score.

Fellow junior Jake Cummings tallied 91 receiving yards and a TD on five grabs and added two rushing scores.

Senior Brandin Gilmer and freshman Jaxon Vargo got a chance to tote the football in the rout, and both scored.

Leechburg hosts Jeannette (5-1, 2-0) on Friday in a crucial conference matchup.

Kiski Area breaks through

The Cavaliers (2-4, 1-2) had lost 10 straight conference games dating to a 2021 victory at Shaler. That included setbacks to North Catholic and Hampton this season.

The streak ended Friday with a 28-7 victory over Indiana.

Junior Landon Kucic rushed for 113 yards and scoring runs of 4, 4 and 16 yards on 19 carries. Junior Carson Heinle connected with senior Isaiah Gonzalez on a 42-yard touchdown. Heinle finished with 194 yards on 11-of-17 passing, and Gonzalez finished with three catches for 79 yards.

Kiski returns to action this week with a stiff challenge against Mars (4-2, 2-0). The Planets routed Highlands, 48-15, on Friday.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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