Football team finds identity for new season


Some say the quarterback is the heart of the team. The quarterback is involved in almost every offensive play, is a leader on and off the field and can solidify a potential playoff-caliber team. So what happens when a team loses their quarterback? This is the issue the Freedom football team faced when quarterback Carter Slowinski graduated last school year.

Not only did the team lose their starting quarterback, the team lost several valuable, key players. Receivers Joshua Yeck, Tristen Clear, Max Bozza, running back Joshua Pail and others all graduated. This means some young players must step up to fill their void.

With a young team, the Bulldogs looked to junior Tyler Schultheis to become the new starting quarterback. There was some competition for the role, but Tyler Schultheis ultimately came out on top.

Trying to find their new team identity, the Bulldogs held their first regular season game against Quaker Valley at home on Aug. 26. Although the Quakers were not in the Bulldogs’ section, the game would still give the Bulldogs a reasonable idea of how the season would go.

In a very run-heavy offense, the Bulldogs were victorious, beating the Quakers, 24-12. Although the Bulldogs mainly ran the ball, Tyler Schultheis had three completions, with the first being a touchdown to his brother, Matthew Schultheis.

“The game was good. Everyone had their ups and down. We had a few turnovers, but we set the pace high at the beginning, scoring on our first drive,” Tyler Schultheis said.

Another highlight of the game was freshman kicker Garrett Drutarsky’s 41-yard field goal.

“It was the first kick of my season, and for it to be that long, it really got all the nerves out of me,” Drustarsky said.

Attempting to carry momentum from their last game, the Bulldogs faced off against the Ambridge Bridgers at Jimbo Covert Field at Bulldog Stadium on Sept. 2. The Bulldogs, still taking the more run-oriented offensive play style, had less success than they did the first game. The Bulldogs lost, 16-14. 

Despite this loss, the team saw potential from the game. Tyler Schultheis used a plethora of tools from his repertoire when it came trying to generate offense. One of the most notable moments was when he made a 53-yard pass to sophomore Dekota Roberts in the second quarter. Senior running back Damian Grunnagle was even nominated for the Beaver County Times Football Player of the Week for his performance against the Bridgers.

Attempting to get back on track, the Bulldogs traveled to Hardy Field to face the Beaver Bobcats on Sept. 9. However, the Bulldogs were unable to overcome an early 21-point deficit in the first half and fell to the Bobcats, 28-18.

Even though the game counts towards their record, the team does not have to fret about the loss affecting their playoff chances. This is because it was a non-section game.

At the release of this publication, the team will also have faced conference opponents in Ellwood City and Riverside, which count towards the playoffs. The football team hopes to flourish and get back on track as they continue their season, while having fun at the same time. 

“We’re more physical this year, and everyone is actually caring about the year. It’s not hard for everyone to enjoy the season,” Tyler Schultheis said.