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Bulldogs start their season with a bang

Senior+Zach+Rosa+tosses+the+football+to+senior+Jake+Pail+in+attempt+to+get+a+first+down.+against+Hopewell+on+August+24.
Senior Zach Rosa tosses the football to senior Jake Pail in attempt to get a first down. against Hopewell on August 24.

Senior Zach Rosa tosses the football to senior Jake Pail in attempt to get a first down. against Hopewell on August 24.

Senior Zach Rosa tosses the football to senior Jake Pail in attempt to get a first down. against Hopewell on August 24.

Jalynn Falk and Matthew Levenson

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After anticipating a new season, senior Cody Ross predicted this year to be “the best one yet” due to the team’s preparation and focus.

The Bulldogs took to their new field for the first time on Aug. 8 to play the Hopewell Vikings. The first play of the game was a 55-yard touchdown pass from senior Zach Rosa to senior Noah Yeck. The first game was a huge success for the Bulldogs as they won by a score of 39-6.

This game was not only one to remember for the community, but a special game for freshman Josh Pail. Josh Pail scored a 22-yard rushing touchdown for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter.

“That was my first start, I felt pretty happy. It felt good to have my older brother on the field with me, the whole team played a good part too,” Freshman Josh Pail said. “From day one they always said the freshman can step up to play, that everyone will have each others’ backs, so that’s been with us since day one and you know they have your back.”

The loss of 11 seniors from last year hasn’t affected the Bulldog’s stride thus far. They carried their talent over in their second game at Shenango where they faced the Wildcats. The game ended in a score of 63-0 in favor of the Bulldogs who dominated from start to finish, giving Freedom their 400th win in the school’s history.

With 286 yards, five interceptions — one of them being returned for a touchdown by Rosa — and a fumble, both the offense and defense had commanding control over the Wildcats for the entirety of the game. Similar to the Bulldog’s first game, many young players got a shot to play and they made the most of it. Sophomore Tyrique Campbell was responsible for one of the Bulldog’s interceptions and sophomore Brandon Pratte had three rushes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

In the Bulldogs’ third game of the season against the Riverside Panthers, it ended with a score of 43-0 Bulldogs. Junior Kevin Lawrence had an impressive defensive game when he tackled the quarterback in the endzone for a safety, giving the bulldogs two points early in the first quarter and later scoring a 19-yard touchdown off of an interception. Jake Pail led the Bulldogs on offense rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown as well as hauling in 41 receiving yards followed by a second touchdown.

Despite the team’s early success, the Bulldogs hit a bump in the road when they lost to the Mohawk Warriors on Sept. 14. The Warriors lit up the scoreboard first from an opening kickoff return for a touchdown. They also capitalized on many of the Bulldog’s turnovers. Freedom closed the gap late in the fourth quarter, but their comeback effort fell short resulting in a 27-21 loss.

“I hope [younger players take our leadership] and really try to build off of what our senior group has tried to do in changing the attitude here,” Rosa said.

So far, it seems as though the young group of players has responded well to the seniors’ leadership. Scoring 145 points in their first three games is an impressive feat that has paved the way for the beginning of a positive season. The Bulldogs are playing with a noticeable amount of energy and intensity. As they continue into the season, the hopes are high for the Bulldogs to make the playoffs once again this year.   

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Bulldogs start their season with a bang