New coach leads to new philosophy

Coaching staff brings new-look football team to the field

New+coach+leads+to+new+philosophy

Devin Daley, Managing Editor

Freedom football is under new management this year as Tom Liberty has taken the reigns as the new head coach of the football team. Liberty has brought many changes with him, ranging from a larger emphasis on putting in time in the weight room to a completely new offensive scheme to try to jump start the Freedom offense that had been a weak point in years past.

“Under Coach Liberty, we have a game plan week to week based upon our matchups with our offense against our opponent’s defense and allows us to attack their weak points,” senior Nick Henderson said of the differences between this offense as opposed to offenses he’s been in before.

The new look offense seems to be working for the Bulldogs as they have scored 16 points per game through the first month of the season as opposed to the 10 points per game they averaged to this point in the season last year. This uptick in scoring has allowed the Bulldogs to start section play with a record of 1-1 after picking up a win over New Brighton and losing to Laurel.

Amongst the offensive standouts of the team sits Henderson, who is just over halfway to the 1,000 yard mark and is averaging 21.8 yards per catch on the season thus far. First year starting quarterback sophomore Zach Rosa has completed 35 percent of his passes on the year for 660 yards and five touchdowns through the team’s first five games. Rosa has also thrown 10 interceptions on the year, which gives him a 1:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If the team expects to continue its competitiveness in the section this year, protecting the ball will be vital as, with the team averaging under three touchdowns per game, they can’t afford to give their opponents the extra possessions.

On the defensive side of things, this Freedom football team is very similar to the one last year. This year’s defense is allowing 29 points per game, which is about on par with the 24 points per game that the team was allowing to this point last year. Something that has allowed the Freedom defense to be effective in stopping other teams is their ability to stop the run. Opponents are averaging only 3.8 yards per carry against the Bulldogs through the first five games of the season this year.

“This year, we like to sit and play defense opposed to blitzing like we did so much last year,” senior linebacker Dean Ward said of the team’s changes from last year to this year. On the topic of how the defense has been so effective against the run, Ward said, “We switched from three down linemen to four this year, which has allowed us linebackers to be freed up to make plays on ball carriers and for the linemen to sometimes make plays themselves.”

Through the first month of the season, the Bulldogs finest moment was their victory over New Brighton, which was Liberty’s first as the head coach of the Bulldogs. The team’s 17 fourth quarter points led the second half comeback as the Bulldogs won the game 24-17.

“I’m delighted. It feels great to get the win,” Liberty said after the game.

Going forward, the Bulldogs have five games in October with the Homecoming game on Oct. 1 and senior night on Oct. 21, being the only two home games of the bunch. If the Bulldogs are to make the playoffs, the team will look to have to win three of those five to guarantee themselves a spot, although they could also slide into the playoffs if they win two of the last three.