WPIAL Football Team of the Week: Week 3
Monday, September 16, 2019 | 7:14 PM
With every win these last two years, the Freedom football program seems to end long droughts of a mostly forgetful century of football.
In 2018, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 9-1 for the program’s first winning season in 14 years.
The team hosted a playoff game at Bulldogs Stadium for the first time in school history last November. The dream season ended after two playoff wins with a loss to eventual champion Steel Valley in the district semifinals.
Not bad for a program that from 2005 to 2015 was a combined 20-85.
Now, for the first time in 24 years, Freedom is off to a 4-0 overall start after a 28-0 whitewash of a Mohawk team that it shared the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference title with last fall.
After wins over Hopewell, Shenango and Riverside, Freedom started slow at the school’s homecoming game on Saturday against the winless Warriors as the first half ended scoreless.
“(Mohawk) did a really good job in the first half taking away our run game,” Freedom second-year coach Greg Toney said. “They’re really big up front, so we really had trouble.
“We made some adjustments at halftime. I think it was just looking at what they were doing and trying to take advantage of what we could do.”
What Freedom could do was throw the ball, which it did with success in the second half.
Bulldogs quarterback junior Cole Beck ended up hitting 6 of 9 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns, plus scoring on a 1-yard run, all coming after halftime.
“We tried (to throw) a little in the first half but had trouble getting some snaps,” Toney said. “We had a game plan coming in. It didn’t work out, so we kind of had to go back to the drawing board at halftime.”
Freedom is averaging nearly 28 points per game, while the defense has allowed an average of just over 10 points per game.
“I credit that to the coaches,” Freedom senior running back and defensive back Max Ujhazy said. “They’re really great at scouting. We have to focus up, read our keys and know our assignments. If we all do our job, we know we’re going to come out with the upper hand.”
Freedom is 3-0, currently tied for first place in the MAC with Neshannock, a half-game ahead of New Brighton (2-0).
The Bulldogs host Ellwood City this Friday, then visit Valley in a nonconference game.
After that, Freedom hosts New Brighton in Week 6 and then travels to Neshannock in back-to-back conference showdowns.
Does Toney like where his young team is at this point in the season?
“I do, but we’re still making young mistakes,” he said. “We’re still stepping the wrong way on assignments. We need to clean some of that stuff up.
“Hopefully we’ll get some guys back soon and maybe by then, we’ll be hitting on all cylinders.”
Past HSSN teams of the week:
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