Freeport hopes to reload for another playoff run

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Sunday, August 18, 2019 | 11:41 AM


Last year, the Freeport football team came close to putting its stamp on a Class 3A Big East Conference championship.

The Yellowjackets lost to Derry in overtime, and they had the lead late in the fourth quarter against Elizabeth Forward before the Warriors rallied for the winning score.

Derry and EF finished tied for the conference title with North Catholic at 7-1. Freeport, a playoff qualifier in 2018, placed fourth at 5-3.

Yellowjackets coach John Gaillot knows the conference will be challenging again, and despite having to replace a couple of key components from last year’s squad, he feels the pieces are there to make some noise this fall.

“The boys showed great work ethic throughout the offseason workouts,” Gaillot said. “They see that we can do some good things this season. They’ve been focused, and they’ve worked hard to get ready with positive attitudes.”

Freeport hopes to maintain its run-first style of offense. Gaillot said he saw a productive offseason challenge at quarterback to replace the graduated Austin Romanchak, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards and tallied 13 touchdowns a year ago.

Senior Garret Schaffhauser moves under center from tight end. He saw work at quarterback in three games last year.

“When it comes down to Freeport football, we’re always going to be a running team, first and foremost, and then throw the ball a little after,” Schaffhauser said. “I don’t think that will change.

“We’re all just excited for the season. We’re really confident in the team that is coming together.”

Gaillot said sophomore Garrett King and freshman Ben Lane also were evaluated at quarterback.

“One will take most of the snaps, but there are packages we like to do,” Gaillot said. “We might be able to use all three at some point. They are all great athletes. It would give us another avenue in the offense.”

More than 1,700 rushing yards and 26 total rushing touchdowns were lost to graduation, including 716 yards and 12 scores from Conor Sellinger.

Senior Ricky Hunter and sophomore Jewlius Barnes are expected to help carry the ball in the backfield.

“They have two different running styles,” Gaillot said. “Ricky is more of a shifty runner, and Jewlius is more of a straight-ahead Jerome Bettis type.”

Gaillot said he is counting on the experience of senior fourth-year starter Isiah Bauman to help move the ball down field.

Other playmakers in the running or passing game, Gailott said, include King and Lane; seniors Brodey Woods, Josh Bollinger and Luke Miller; junior Gavin Stahmen; and sophomore Matt Aulicino.

Miller, Gaillot said, suffered a knee injury as a freshman and then didn’t play the past two years.

Stahmen is a transfer from North Hills.

An experienced offensive line features four returnees: seniors Garrett Ben and Carter Dougherty, junior Logan Manke and sophomore Elijah Freeman.

“They are all bigger and stronger,” Gaillot said. “They all should do well.”

Bauman, from his safety position, finished second on the team in tackles (73) last year and picked off two passes. Six of the eight top tacklers return.

Schaffhauser, at outside linebacker, added 56 tackles and a team-best six sacks.

Hunter (inside linebacker) and Barnes (defensive end) contributed 58 and 54 tackles, respectively, and Bollinger (defensive end) produced five sacks.

Pierce Craven (defensive tackle) also returns after recording 50 tackles and two sacks as a junior.

Miller (safety), Lane (corner) and Woods (corner), Gaillot said, will help patrol the secondary.

“The defense should again be pretty quick and athletic,” Gaillot said.

Freeport opens Aug. 30 at Derry before hosting North Catholic on Sept. 6 and paying a visit to Elizabeth Forward on Sept. 13.

The Yellowjackets also will do battle against conference foes Deer Lakes, Burrell, Yough, Mt. Pleasant and Uniontown.

“Derry is always going to be strong,” Gaillot said. “North Catholic has talent all over the place. Elizabeth Forward lost some, but they also reload and are always at the top. Those, I think, are the top three right now.

“It was a close one with Deer Lakes last year, and they have that quarterback back and some others. Burrell has that quarterback who transferred back from Central Catholic. They will be improved. Mt. Pleasant was young last year and didn’t have the season they typically have, so they will be hungry to get back. Staying healthy is a big thing for any team in the conference.”

Freeport caps the regular season Oct. 25 with a home nonconference game against rival Knoch.

“Our schedule is challenging, but we hope to be competitive each week and put ourselves in position for the playoffs,” Gaillot said.

Schedule

Coach: John Gaillot

2018 record: 5-5, 5-3

All-time record: 555-373-47

Date, Opponent, Time

8.30, at Derry*, 7

9.6, North Catholic*, 7

9.13, at Elizabeth Forward*, 7

9.20, Uniontown*, 7

9.27, at Yough*, 7

10.4, Deer Lakes*, 7

10.11, at Burrell*, 7

10.18, at Mt. Pleasant*, 7

10.25, Knoch, 7

*Class 3A Big East Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Austin Romanchak*

47-105, 545 yards, 2 TDs

Receiving: Evan McCrea*

13-192 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Romanchak*

122-1,027 yards, 13 TDs

*Graduated

Freeport roster

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Brady Stivenson, WR/DB, 5-5/110, Fr.

2, Ben Lane, WR/DB, 5-9/150, Fr.

3, Isiah Bauman, WR/DB, 6-1/180, Sr.

4, Zach Clark, QB/DB, 5-7/135, Fr.

5, Garret Schaffhauser, QB/DB, 6-1/190, Sr.

6, Cole Charlton, WR/OLB, 6-3/185, So.

7, Parker Lucas, WR/DB/K, 6-0/160, Fr.

8, Brodey Woods, WR/DB, 5-9/160, Sr.

9, Garrett King, QB/DB, 6-1/175, So.

10, Luke Miller, WR/DB, 6-2/160, Sr.

11, Andrew Sullivan, HB/OLB, 5-10/150, Fr.

12, Sebastian Sellinger, WR/LB, 5-11/160, Jr.

13, Braden Urick, HB/LB, 5-10/145, So.

14, Eli Asay, WR/DB, 5-9/145, Jr.

15, Joey Molinaro, WR/DB, 5-6/115, So.

16, Billy Lyons, RB/LB, 5-7/135, So.

18, Zach Wislie, TE/LB, 6-0/180, Sr.

20, Caleb Hoffman, RB/DB, 5-7/135, Fr.

21, Ethan Lacinski, TE/OLB, 6-2/155, So.

22, Jacksen Reiser, WR/DB, 5-11/155, Fr.

23, Gavin Stehman, HB/LB, 6-0/180, Jr.

26, Jewlius Barnes, RB/LB/DL, 5-11/235, So.

27, Mario DeVivo, WR/DB, 6-0/150, Jr.

30, Matt Aulicino, TE/OLB, 6-6/185, So.

31, Ricky Hunter, RB/LB/K, 5-9/160, Sr.

34, Payton Westendorf, OL/DL, 6-2/170, Fr.

43, Shane Jack, RB/DB, 5-8/135, So.

44, Corey Check, TE/OLB, 5-11/170, Jr.

51, Carter Dougherty, OL/DL, 6-4/200, Sr.

52, Garrett Ben, OL/LB, 5-5/210, Sr.

56, Elijah Freeman, OL/DL, 6-0/200, So.

57, Elias Wagner, OL/DL, 5-2/150, So.

58, Chris Hartman, OL/DL, 6-0/220, Jr.

61, James Kashella, OL/DL, 6-1/255, Jr.

62, Logan Manke, OL/DL, 6-0/235, Jr.

63, Noah McQuade, OL/DL, 5-10/210, Sr.

68, Dennis Daugherty, OL/DL, 6-3/245, Jr.

75, Josh Heckman, OL/DL, 5-9/180, So.

77, Pierce Craven, OL/DL, 6-1/245, Sr.

79, Logan Jendrejewski, OL/DL, 6-0/265, So.

83, Maximus Sellinger, WR/DB, 5-11/155, Sr.

87, Josh Bollinger, HB/DL/LB, 6-1/180, Sr.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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