Bethlehem Press

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Press photos by Rob MerchantJared Jenkins had a big game in the Pates loss to Parkland. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Press photos by Rob MerchantJared Jenkins had a big game in the Pates loss to Parkland. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA
Freedom’s Owen Johnson-McCormick tries to get his hands on the ball but it falls incomplete during last week’s game against Parkland. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Freedom’s Owen Johnson-McCormick tries to get his hands on the ball but it falls incomplete during last week’s game against Parkland. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA
Freedom’s Axel Vega ends up in the end zone for a touchdown during last week’s loss to the Trojans. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Freedom’s Axel Vega ends up in the end zone for a touchdown during last week’s loss to the Trojans. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA
Freedom’s Owen Johnson-McCormick hauls in a catch but eventually ends up just shy of the end zone as time runs out. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Freedom’s Owen Johnson-McCormick hauls in a catch but eventually ends up just shy of the end zone as time runs out. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA

Patriot players worked hard until the end

Friday, November 15, 2019 by jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Over the past four years, Freedom’s football team has gained chunks of yardage through the air and on the ground.

For the better part of the first half of their District 11 Class 6A semifinal playoff game against Parkland last Friday, the Patriots appeared to be on the same path toward a successful night with a 17-point advantage.

Freedom was the first team to beat Parkland, 21-18, in week three, and the Trojans (10-2) then went on to win seven straight. But Freedom’s offensive attack was reduced a few gears most of the second half, and ironically, it came to an end one yard short.

Freedom receiver Owen Johnson-McCormick was stopped on the one-yard line by a host of Parkland defenders as time ran out as the Trojans captured a 40-32 victory at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.

The thud in the Bethlehem night was the shock of the run led by a group of 16 Patriot seniors behind quarterback Jared Jenkins and running back Jalen Stewart that produced two district final visits and a title over the last three years that came to a screeching halt when many expected them to playing Nazareth Friday night.

“It is tough to reflect upon,” said Freedom head coach Jason Roeder. “But I had an unbelievable group of kids that came to work every day, worked extremely hard, were coachable and played hard to the very end.

“I’m grateful for the time I had to work with them. I feel bad that their season had to end.”

Jenkins, who is the school’s all-time passing leader, laid out two downfield, spiraled strikes perfectly in the opening half, one a 26-yarder to Gabe Caton and a 32-yarder to Vince Reph.

Stewart added the final score of the first half on a 46-yard gallop that gave the Patriots (10-2) a seemingly, commanding 20-10 halftime advantage.

However, Parkland took their cue from some late first-half momentum and rose to the occasion toward their sixth consecutive Class 6 A title. They defeated Freedom, 30-6, last year for the crown.

Caton caught seven passes for 110 yards with a touchdown, while Jenkins completed 13 of 24 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 89 yards and a score.

Jenkins, who holds 11 school passing records, finished the season with over 2,500 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. Stewart finished with over 1,00 yards rushing this season, and he is the school’s all-time rushing touchdown leader.

“We fight to the end no matter what,” added Roeder. “We accomplished a great deal with a great group of seniors. I’m proud we fought to the very end, but that’s the expectation. That’s what these kids have done time and time again.”