Football team ends roller coaster season with win


Luke Snavely

The Freedom football team, coaches and cheerleaders pose for one more team photo after their 30-21 win against the Beaver Bobcats on Oct. 30.

The Freedom football team has been through a lot this past season. The boys have faced coaching changes, intense games, heartbreak, injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this, the team barely missed the playoffs even with a winning record. Despite not being in the postseason, the Bulldogs looked to end the season in the best way possible: a win.

The Bulldogs’ game against Mohawk, which was played on Oct. 23 and 24, was supposed to be the team’s last game. However, the Beaver Bobcats’ head coach Jeffery Beltz wanted to face his alma mater, Freedom, as his last game as coach in his 21-year career. The exhibition game was made possible due to both Freedom and Beaver not making the playoffs.

On Oct. 30, the Bulldogs faced the Bobcats in a very competitive game. Before the game, Beltz was honored with a Freedom helmet and the No. 1 Jersey Award presented by Beaver. 

The game then went underway with an eventful first quarter, despite neither team scoring. On their first drive, the Bulldogs attempted a successful fake punt play which they’ve practiced many times before. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of their new set of downs and were forced to punt on fourth down.

Freedom later attempted a field goal in the first quarter, but a bad snap on the attempt resulted in the quarter ending 0-0. 

The Bulldogs opened the second quarter up with senior quarterback Cole Beck throwing to senior Brett Boyd, who ran the ball into the end zone for the first score of the game. Then, the Bobcats fumbled the ball on their next drive.

After getting the ball from the fumble, Freedom attempted another trick play. This time senior Reiker Welling threw the ball to Beck who ran into the end zone for the touchdown, making the score 13-0 after a failed two point conversion.

Shortly afterwards, Beaver scored their first touchdown of the game off of a Freedom fumble. In response, with just 11 seconds remaining in the half, Welling scored on a long 62-yard interception return after the Bulldogs’ previous drive was unsuccessful. This made the score 20-6 at the end of the first half.

The third quarter began with a slow start for the Bulldogs. The Bobcats scored the only touchdown of the quarter off of a 52-yard punt return to make the score 20-13.

The Bulldogs picked up more momentum in the fourth quarter. With a little under 10 minutes remaining in the game, Boyd scored on a four-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs a 14-point lead. 

Sophomore Damian Grunnagle then intercepted a Bobcats’ pass, which set up the Bulldogs for a successful field goal attempt by senior Garrett Paxton.

Beaver ended the game with a touchdown, but that was not enough to come back from the large deficit. The final score of the game was 30-21, which meant another Bulldogs’ victory. The game was certainly full of turnovers. Beaver had six turnovers, while Freedom had four.

The boys were thrilled to end the season off with a win against a team in a higher division, especially since the season consisted of a roller coaster of emotions. 

“I’m just really proud of what these kids have been through all year. Our kids played extremely hard. I’m so proud of them since they worked hard each and every week regardless of the adversities they were given,” Freedom athletic director and interim head coach John Rosa said. 

The football team will lose 14 seniors next year, including key players like Beck, Welling and Boyd. This means that younger players will have to step up next year to fill the gaps left behind by the seniors.

“Right now we just want to enjoy the moment. We’ll go back to the drawing board in December and January and see where things are at,” Rosa said.

For now, the Bulldogs can celebrate their winning 5-3 season.