By Arnav Kumar
LoCoSports Staff Writer
South Riding (September 11, 2016) – With the first two weeks of school in the books, the Park View High School Patriots tested the Freedom High School Eagles on September 9 at Eric J. Olsen Stadium in South Riding in a gritty, physical game. Although both teams showed up ready to play, the Eagles were in control for most of the game, winning 14-0 in their second straight shutout of the season.
The game kicked off with a slow start as both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions, failing to get a first down. Both teams’ defensive lines dominated the line of scrimmage at the start of the game, with Freedom sophomore defensive lineman Garrett Dunn-Ford shedding blockers to tackle the ball-carrier for a loss on multiple instances.
“I looked at a lot of film, looked at the plays, and that was basically my goal for the last two weeks,” Dunn-Ford said. “Just checking out their formations and who they run behind really contributed to my tackles.”
On Park View’s second possession of the game, Patriots’ junior quarterback Adam Thorne was picked off by Eagles’ sophomore linebacker Ethan Krinjeck on a rollout pass. Following the interception, Freedom junior quarterback Jack Fitzgerald burst through a wide gap created by the Eagles’ offensive lineman and sprinted to the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown at the 7:19 mark in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Park View senior running back Nikolai Hopkins was able to establish some success on the ground, bruising through a tough Freedom defensive line for several yards. However, on a deep, well thrown ball from Thorpe, Freedom junior cornerback Zyan Collins made an outstanding, leaping interception, allowing the Eagles to take over at their own 20. As done before, Fitzgerald produced another score off a turnover with a 76-yard touchdown bomb to Eagles sophomore wide receiver Aidan Doherty with 2:06 remaining in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Freedom defense was more of the same, with a tackle for a loss from junior defensive lineman Case Stallings and a sack from senior defensive end Sean Chen.
Moreover, the Eagles’ secondary was stellar, with two more interceptions by junior safety Jeremy Cofield and junior linebacker Drew Pirko.
“We played as one unit, our Dline filled gaps, and our [defensive backs]stayed on their man and we had very timely turnovers, giving the chance for the offense to score,” Dunn-Ford said.
Due to the four interceptions thrown, the Patriots’ offense could not get going; however, junior wide receiver Caleb Donofrio and Thorpe were able to generate 78 yards of rushing combined in the first half.
Fitzgerald continued to move the chains with his shiftiness, while unior running back Robert Mayo continued to punish any defenders who tried to come in his path. Despite Mayo and Fitzgerald’s success on the ground, the Eagles failed to score any points in the second quarter.
“We could have executed our individual responsibilities better and we needed better communication between the quarterback and receivers,” Freedom sophomore wide receiver Ryan Fisher said.
The second half of the game mirrored the second quarter, as both teams failed to put any points up on the board. After multiple empty possessions in the second half, the Park View coaching staff pulled a trick from their sleeve with a jump pass from Hopkins to a Patriot tight end to move the chains. After this unique play, the Patriots seemed to be a tad more energized, resulting in their first sustained drive with under five minutes to go in the third quarter. The sustained drive led to the Patriots’ first red zone appearance of the night; however, before Park View could get within ten yards of the goal line, Freedom senior linebacker Robert Doherty stripped the ball from Thorne on a carry, resulting in a turnover for Park View.
The Patriots’ bad luck in the second half did not stop there, as they also lost a second fumble in the red zone that was forced by Eagles’ senior defensive lineman Jaren Billups with 2:56 left in the game. With this fumble recovery, the Freedom Eagles sealed their victory over the Park View Patriots.
Football: Freedom 14, Park View 0 FINAL.
— LoCoSports (@LoCoSports) September 10, 2016
All in all, the Park View Patriots were a formidable opponent, but the Eagles proved why they are still undefeated with their smothering defense and dynamic rushing attack headed by Fitzgerald and Mayo.
The Freedom High School Eagles (2-0) will take on the Heritage High School Pride (2-1) in South Riding on September 16.
The Park View High School Patriots (1-2) will take on the Rock Ridge Phoenix (1-2) in Sterling on September 16.
“Our defensive effort was amazing, I’m extremely proud of them,” sophomore nose guard James Ruff said. “I mean we didn’t allow them to put up any points on the board, so you can’t get much happier than that.”
1Q 7:19 F Jack Fitzgerald 47-yard TD run (Pearson PAT)
1Q 2:06 F Jack Fitzgerald to Aidan Doherty 76-yard TD pass (Pearson PAT)