Trojans uphold legacy
Continuing the legacy t was something that the Parkland football team’s senior class wanted to do leading up to the District 11 Class 6A championship game last Friday night at Northampton High School’s Al Erdosy Stadium.
Number one seed Parkland used the strength and legs of senior running back Jahan Worth, while its defense kept sixth-seeded Freedom out of the end zone in winning a sixth straight gold medal in the district title game 30-6.
It was the second consecutive year that the Trojans (13-0 overall) and Patriots (7-6) met in the final.
The Parkland seniors were mostly happy to keep the winning tradition alive in the program.
“It’s just great as a senior to win this again and continue the legacy of winning,” said senior wide receiver/cornerback Juan Salas. “We were telling each other at the beginning of the year that we were going to win it again. We didn’t want to be the group that stopped this streak. We got here and we got the job done again, and it’s a great feeling.”
Worth carried the ball 21 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Michael Ruisch went 12-for-17 for 191 yards and a touchdown.
Freedom moved the ball down and reached the red zone multiple times in the first half, but was never able get in the end zone.
The Patriots settled for a 36-yard field goal on the opening drive to take an early 3-0 lead, but never led again. Turnovers deep inside the Parkland side of the field also hurt the Pates.
“All of us did our jobs,” Salas said. “Coach stressed that (Freedom’s) a great team, and we had to stop the run first and foremost and make their quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket. They’re going to play hard, but our defense was going to win us the game. We came out here with that mentality.”
On their first possession, the Trojans drove 65 yards, capped by a nine-yard touchdown run by Worth to take a 7-3 lead, one they would keep.
Salas intercepted Patriots quarterback Jared Jenkins on Freedom’s ensuing possession. That led to a four-yard touchdown run by senior Mason Malozzi.
Senior Josh Wagner then came away with another Parkland interception late in the second quarter, and the Trojans took a 14-3 lead into halftime.
The Patriots found some momentum when the third quarter began.
Joseph Figueroa forced a fumble that was recovered by Tristan Wheeler on the first play of the third quarter. That possession ended with a Nick Stannard field goal to get Freedom within 14-6.
But Worth found the end zone again on Parkland’s next drive. And Parkland added another touchdown via a 55-yard touchdown pass from Ruisch to Nick Johnston.
Senior defensive end Jeremy Sell recorded a safety in the fourth quarter when he tackled a Patriots running back in their end zone.
“We all played really well,” Wagner said. “Sometimes it’s a (defensive back) game, sometimes it’s a defensive line game, this game it was everyone. Everyone worked well together. We had a couple mistakes, but we made up for it.”