After slow start, Bulldogs bounce back to 2-2


Luke Snavely/FHS Press

Trying to find the end zone, senior Joshua Pail races the South Side defender to the outside Aug. 27.

Dylan Scheel, Staff Writer

After waiting almost a year, the Freedom Bulldogs started their 2021 football season. The Bulldogs lost 13 seniors to graduation last year and they will look onto their younger players to step up and take over. After having a 5-3 record last season and almost going to playoffs, the Bulldogs will try and get that extra push this season to make the playoffs. The team is led by captains and seniors Carter Slowinski, Tristen Clear and Joshua Pail and junior Damian Grunnagle. 

The Bulldogs kicked off the season taking on the South Side Rams in week zero. Before the game, the Freedom school board held a ceremony in honor of 2020 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee Jimbo Covert. The school board renamed the field to Jimbo Covert Field.  Freedom started the game off with a flea flicker pass from Slowinski for a big gain. They then capitalized with their first touchdown of the season with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Slowinski. However, the Rams quickly answered back with three touchdowns of their own to make the score 19-7. The Bulldogs were able to get one final touchdown on a 1-yard run by Grunnagle, but it wasn’t enough and the game ended 19-14. 

Week two held the Bulldogs hosting the Western Beaver Golden Beavers at Jimbo Covert Field. The game started off slow with neither offense able to find its rhythm. The Bulldogs opened up the scoring with a 20-yard field goal by senior Jay Hessler. The Golden Beavers quickly scored a touchdown of their own to make the score 6-3. After two-quarters of no scoring, the Bulldogs tied the game back up in the closing minutes with a 31-yard field goal by senior Xavier Dwyer to make it 6-6. The score remained the same and the game went into overtime. The Golden Beaver scored first in overtime and got a two-point conversion to take the lead. The Bulldogs however scored a touchdown of their own on a catch by senior Joshua Yeck. They were unable to convert the two-point try and the Bulldogs fell to Western Beaver 14-12 to go 0-2.

Looking to bounce back in week three, the Bulldogs travelled to Quaker Valley to take on the Quakers. The Quakers opened up the scoring with a 73-yard touchdown pass but the Bulldogs quickly countered bounced back with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Pail. The Bulldogs continued their scoring with two touchdown passes from Slowinski, the first to Clear and second to Pail. The Bulldogs sealed the game with a safety in the fourth quarter made by Grunnagle. Slowinski ended the game with 223 passing yards and two touchdown passes while Pail led the rushing game with 105 yards of his own and the Bulldogs improved to 1-2. 

On Sept. 17, the Bulldogs looked to keep their momentum going, taking on the Riverside Panthers. They started early, scoring a quick 36-yard touchdown from a throw from Slowinski to junior Matthew Schultheis. The Bulldogs continued scoring the whole night and tallied up five touchdowns, the longest being an 83-yard run by Slowinski. Slowinski finished with five total touchdowns on 144 yards throwing and led the rushing game with 99 yards. Yeck also finished with two receiving touchdowns and 64 yards. The Bulldogs won the game 34-7 to get back to .500. 

“We were able to bounce back after a slow start and we’ve been working hard at practice and living up to our potential,” senior receiver Max Bozza said after the win.

The Bulldogs will try to keep the winning streak going with their game against the Neshannock Lancers on Sept. 24.