Freedom tops Trojans in D-11 semi
By most teams’ standards a 7-5 season and a trip to the District 11 football semifinals would be a pretty good year. Some places it would make history.
At Parkland, winner of six straight district titles from 2013-17, anything short of a trip to the state playoffs might be seen as a disappointing season. But this year’s Parkland team, which had its season end Saturday with a 35-21 loss to Freedom, overcame a lot of adversity to reach seven wins and earn the No. 5 seed in the district playoffs.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Parkland head coach Tim Moncman. “Since the beginning of the year we had six or seven starters that went down. Kids stepped up and I’m proud of them.
“Replacing 17 starters [to graduation] and injuries, I’m as proud of these kids as if they won a state title. They just stepped up and worked hard. Maybe some people don’t see it as a success, but for what went on during the year for us, it was a good accomplishment.”
The Trojans, which shut out Stroudsburg in the first round of the playoffs, had to deal with more injuries Saturday as two defensive backs left the game against Freedom, which has one of the league’s best passing games in the area.
Parkland got on the board first when quarterback Tanner Lewis broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run with 8:40 left in the first quarter. The run capped a seven-play, 70-yard opening drive.
The Trojan defense forced a quick punt to give their team some early momentum. But four plays later the first of Parkland’s four lost fumbles in the game helped set up Freedom’s first score.
The Patriots got the ball at the Parkland 27-yard line and marched the distance in seven plays, capped by Tristan Wheeler’s one-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
Freedom’s defense dug in from there and stopped Parkland on its next two possessions while the Patriots scored on their next two chances.
Quarterback Jared Jenkins hit Rontay Dunbar with a 50-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. Jenkins connected with Vincent Reph for a 16-yard score that gave his team a 21-7 lead with 5:09 left in the first half.
Parkland’s Nick Johnson ran the ensuing kick off back to Freedom’s 2-yard line to set up Angel Santos’ one-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 21-14.
Parkland’s then defense forced a three-and-out and the Trojans were driving late in the first half when another lost fumble gave the ball back to Freedom. The Patriots went deep on first down as Jenkins hit Dunbar for a 59-yard score that stretched the lead to 28-14.
Parkland cut the lead back to one score on its first possession of the second half. Santos finished an eight-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 5:00 left in the third quarter. But Freedom answered three plays into its next possession when Matthew Russin raced for an 87-yard touchdown to cap the scoring with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
Top-seeded Freedom (11-1) goes on to face No. 2 seed Emmaus (11-1) in Saturday’s district title game.
The Hornets are making their first appearance in a district title game, while Freedom has played in the past two, both losses to Parkland.
The Patriots and Hornets are both seeking the first district football championships in school history.