Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

FHS looks to stay perfect

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 by Peter Car in Sports

There are a lot of distractions this time of year for high school football teams as they head into the final week of the regular season. With rivalry week on tilt across the Lehigh Valley, the biggest and best one takes center stage Saturday afternoon at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium when Freedom and Liberty kickoff at 1 p.m.

The stakes are always high for city bragging rights, but this year’s affair features Freedom coming in at a perfect 9-0 on the season, looking to become the first team in school history to finish the regular season undefeated, while Liberty (4-5) is looking to scrape themselves back to .500 with a win that would most likely secure them a District 11 6A playoff berth.

The Pates are coming off another convincing victory last week after blasting Central Catholic 42-17, building a 42-3 lead through three quarters on their way to the rout.

Liberty, meanwhile, earned a 41-21 win on the road against Whitehall, giving them their second straight win to push them in the conversation to clinch one of the final eight playoff spots in the 6A race.

Liberty won last year’s affair by a 21-7 gritty effort, which helped them clinch a playoff berth, while Freedom used that loss as fuel toward reaching the district final.

And despite both teams having distinctly different seasons to this point, don’t think that Freedom forgot about last year’s drubbing.

“That loss is still fresh in our minds,” said head coach Jason Roeder. “A lot of our offseason changes and emphasis came out of week 10 last year.”

Whatever changes those are have led the Patriots one game away from clinching the top-seed in the district postseason, as well as winning the EPC South outright with a win over Liberty this week.

Eliminating the distractions of spirit week will be impossible, but staying focused shouldn’t be an issue for this group of Freedom players, who have been locked in every week.

“With this group I anticipate for us to go out and play like we have through the first nine weeks of the season,” said Roeder. “It’s all about controlling what we can control. These guys can enjoy spirit week, but let’s focus on winning this football game.”