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For the first time in 16 seasons, the Freedom football team won’t be led by head coach Kevin Hartwig.

But the Falcons ought to have plenty of talent to continue their winning ways.

Andrew Cotter takes over the head coaching position with an impressive resume. He played for Hartwig at Liberty High School and went on to rebuild Moreau Catholic into one of the top Catholic school teams in the Bay Area in his 10 seasons at the helm. Moreau won a combined 10 games in six seasons before Cotter’s arrival, but then won 25 in Cotter’s final three seasons alone. He also guided the Mariners to their first 10-win season and first playoff victory.

Now the coach is focused on carrying on Freedom’s longstanding success.

“It’s tough being the guy after the guy, but I love the challenge,” Cotter said. “That was something that was appealing about the job. It brings another challenge into the fold. I have a great group of coaches that I am real excited about.”

The Falcons, whose 9-3 season in 2017 ended in a 37-0 loss to Liberty in the North Coast Section championship game, return all-league players quarterback Joey Aguilar, running back Giles Jackson and wide receiver Mekel Ealy on offense.

R“It’s been a long summer, but we have worked pretty darn hard,” said Cotter. “We are excited to get this thing going in a couple of weeks.”

Aguilar, Jackson and Ealy will be three core pieces for a quality offense that will feature slot receiver Jaimier Parker and deep threat Kimahni Tolefree.

Roy Lee is also expected to see some time at running back with Jackson likely to play a prominent role in the Falcons’ passing game.

Colby Hunter, Taleni Lepolo, Ryan Fithian and Deric Lapuz will anchor the offensive line, while Lepolo, Jacob Hawkins and Julian Partida will do the same along the defensive line.

All-leaguer Diego Fratus, Brett Bausola, Hunter McAllister and James Dziedzic will all see time at linebacker, and Jeloni Brown, Ziare Williams, Daniel Roanhorse and Lee will roam the secondary.

The Falcons nonleague schedule features five 2017 playoff squads in Turlock, Windsor, California, San Leandro and San Ramon Valley.

Freedom High School

Aug. 17, 7 p.m. vs. Turlock

Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m. at  Windsor

Aug. 31, 7 p.m. vs. California

Sept. 7, 7 p.m. vs. San Leandro

Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at San Ramon Valley

Sept. 21, 7 p.m. vs. Antioch

Sept. 28, 7 p.m. at Liberty

Oct. 5, 7 p.m. at Pittsburg

Oct. 19, 7 p.m. vs. Heritage

Oct. 26, 7 p.m. at Deer Valley