FHS sees season come to an end
Freedom knew it had to play a nearly perfect football game in order to beat St. Joseph’s Prep in last Saturday’s PIAA 6A quarterfinals. Unfortunately for the Pates, too many mistakes in the first half forged an easy path for a Prep victory, as Freedom ended its season in Northeast Philadelphia at the hands of a 42-14, mercy rule defeat.
Saturday’s defeat was another loss by District 11 to the Philadelphia Catholic League champion, as Prep has topped their D11 counterparts in five of the past six years.
Preparing for Prep’s speed and skill was hard enough in practice and the Pates (12-2) got behind the eight ball from the get-go, allowing Sahmir Haggins to take a bubble screen 62-yards for a score on its first play from scrimmage to put St. Joe’s (11-0) ahead instantly.
“Against a team like that you almost have to play near perfect,” said head coach Jason Roeder. “We obviously didn’t do that and we’re not happy with this result. With that first play, I’m not sure you can prepare for that type of speed, but our kids were prepared all week. We just made too many mistakes to compete with a football team of that caliber.”
Freedom fell behind 14-0 before clawing its way back into the game with a 16-play, 82-yard drive capped by a five-yard, Jared Jenkins TD toss to Vincent Reph with 4:42 left in the first half.
It was a drive that instilled confidence into Freedom’s psyche, showing that it could compete with Prep, only to see momentum vanish immediately when Zachary Bouggess returned the ensuing kickoff 94-yards for a TD.
Freedom’s Jalen Stewart (RB) would then commit his second fumble of the first half, this one at the Freedom 22-yard line, giving Prep an opportunity to put the game away by halftime.
They wasted little time, as sophomore quarterback Kyle McCord threw a 22-yard TD strike to Johnny Freeman with 42 seconds left in the half to go ahead 28-7.
Saturday’s loss ends a historic season for the Pates, as they won the EPC South and took home their first ever District 11 title.
Roeder knows that they ran into a buzz saw last week, but reminded this year’s group that their 2018 championship banner will forever hang in the gymnasium.
“This one stings a lot right now and it’s not easy saying goodbye to a group of seniors that have done so much for us,” Roeder said. “In time, I think we’ll be able to put in perspective what this group did to get us to the next level.”