So although Freedom dropped its Bay Valley Athletic League opener 35-14 to Pittsburg on Friday, the Falcons are still optimistic about their postseason chances.
“They came out and ran the ball really well,” Freedom head coach Kevin Hartwig said. “On offense, we didn’t do a really good job up front and couldn’t run the ball. They started teeing off on us. We’re young up front, and it showed.”
The game’s first quarter was scoreless. The Falcons (5-1, 0-1 BVAL) opened the second quarter by making a goal-line stand against the Pirates. After converting only one first down on the ensuing possession (their first of the game), Freedom punted. Pittsburg (4-2, 1-0 BVAL) senior quarterback Malik Watson closed out the ensuing drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak – the first of five consecutive Pirates scoring drives. Freedom couldn't keep up.
Falcons’ quarterback Dante Mayes, a junior, wasn't sacked often, but was consistently pressured. Mayes’ passes to his normally dynamic receivers often went for few yards, if they were caught at all.
After Pittsburg’s first touchdown, Freedom saw a glimmer of hope when junior return man Darrell Daniels flew 91 yards for the tying score. The Pirates answered right back with an 81-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run for Pittsburg senior running back Mister Cotton. Following another Freedom punt, the Pirates opened up a 21-7 halftime lead when Watson hit senior receiver Tyelor Mapp on an eight-yard strike.
The game was certainly not over at that point, as Freedom got the ball on the second half kickoff. But when Mayes was picked off by senior defensive back Miles Walker on the opening possession, Pittsburg put the game away. Cotton plowed in from five yards for his second score of the night, opening up a 28-7 lead.
“Our defense played lights-out,” Pirates head coach Victor Galli said. “They were tremendous.
Outside of a couple of penalties, it was a great effort. This (Freedom) is a great football team. They do a lot of good things here. They’re going to finish the season strong; we might see them again down the road.”
Each team recorded one additional score. Pittsburg senior fullback Crajon Monfee scored on a three-yard run, while Mayes hit junior fullback Andrew Werkheiser on a 21-yard pass.
Despite the loss, Hartwig took a positive view of the rest of the season.
“We’re fine – it’s just one game,” Hartwig said. “That’s the thing that’s nice. Tomorrow we’re going to get back to work and get ready for Antioch.”
Freedom will travel to Antioch to take on a Panthers’ team that also dropped its first game of the season Friday. Pittsburg will stay at home next week to clash pads with Deer Valley, which beat Liberty to open its league season.
The junior varsity game was no more successful for the Falcons. Both teams entered the game 5-0, but Pittsburg won 42-7.
Other BVAL scores
Heritage 51, Antioch 48
Deer Valley 27, Liberty 17