FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown
Freddies’ have steamrolled over opponents for most of the 2009 season.
That includes the Caldwell Redskins, whom the Freddies beat in last week’s
opening playoff game.
Much of the team’s success stems from their ability to block offensively and defensively. From the start of the season the high-powered offense worked its magic while the defense was shutting down the opposition.
“During the preseason, we worked as hard as we could to be as good as we could,” said senior Cody Mann. “Since then, we’ve taken it one game at a time. We’ve tried to build each week.”
The 11-0 record is evidence of a strong line, anchored with experienced players. For the seniors, who make up a large portion of those experienced players, this season has been a great ride.
“This has been a lot of fun,” said senior captain Jordon Levering. “I started last year and got a lot of experience as all of our line does; we all played last year. We’ve got some experience and we know what we are doing, which makes it a lot of fun.”
“This has been great, especially compared to last year,” said senior Seth Peppers. “I only started playing about halfway through the season last year, but this year, I’ve been able to play the whole year and make my mark. We are on pace to be the best team Fredericktown has ever had. We’ve always played good, but we’ve never played this well, which makes this so great.”
Even the underclassmen understand the importance of these games for the seniors.
“I’m really proud of the way we’ve played this year,” said junior Logan Awwiller. “Being an undefeated team is not easy; this is a great way for our seniors to go out, and I’m glad I can be a part of it.”
The Freddies’ balanced offense is another sign of a strong line. Fredericktown has rushed for 2,459 yards this season and passed for 1,861 yards. Without the guys up front controlling the line of scrimmage, it is likely that those numbers would take a nose dive.
“Our success starts up front,” said junior Nick Stacey. “If the running backs aren’t getting anywhere, it is our fault. If they are getting to our quarterback, that’s our fault. If their offense is making plays, that’s our fault too. If they are running free, we’ve got to play harder.”
“Offense has to start at the line,” said Awwiller. “If no one is blocking, then the ball is not going to get anywhere. If we don’t block, our quarterback and running backs don’t have the time to make a play. Execution is the key to offense.”
Having so many skilled athletes capable of making big plays makes the offensive line’s job easier, but they know they still have to perform their job for things to run smoothly.
“We do a lot, but our playmakers make plays,” Levering said. “Sometimes we don’t always get everybody blocked, but they are good enough that if we don’t, they still make plays. ... It is nice to know that if we make a mistake, they are going to correct it for us. They will make it better.”
“We work as hard as we can and try to perform well and let our skill guys take it from there. Usually we can take advantage of it and capitalize on our opportunities,” Mann said.
The players on the defensive line also know they are the first line of defense. If they don’t put pressure on the opposing offense, it will run wild.
“Our job is to go in and blow stuff up,” said senior Matt Proper. “We try to get in their and mess everything up for their offense.”
Senior Andrew Wildermuth added, “We try to keep pressure on their quarterback because that causes problems everywhere. Usually if you get pressure on him, he will throw interceptions. The last three or four games we’ve been doing that pretty well.”
One of the surprising things with the Freddies is their overall team size. The offense and defense have been very effective despite only having 12 players over 200 pounds and one over 240 pounds.
“We’re usually not as big, which can be a little intimidating, but the thing about us is our skill and execution make up for our lack of size,” said Mann.
Handling bigger, stronger teams is a challenge the Freddies have taken on with pride. Now, facing a Wheelersburg squad on Friday night that has 14 players over 200 pounds, including eight over 230 pounds, the Freddies not flinching.
“The toughest are the big, physical guys because they are really coming off the ball and hit you. It is really tough to get them blocked,” said Levering. “Loudonville was the toughest team we’ve faced. They’ve got some big old boys and they were pretty physical. They like to get after you. ... (Wheelersburg) is a lot like Loudonville, so that game was good practice. Now we know how to get by them and how to block them.”
“(Wheelersburg) is bigger than us, but I don’t think they are as fast as we are,” said Proper. “I don’t know if they’ve seen a defense like ours. ... We always have great pursuit.”
Wildermuth said, “Our plan is to get pressure on their quarterback, keep him contained and let our other guys stop them on the outside. We need to make sure we get out there and stop them.”
The Pirates’ center, 275-pound senior Zach Frowine, will be a huge challenge, literally, for Levering, who is Freddies’ nose tackle.
“It is going to be tough (defensively) because their center is a real big kid. He’s pretty physical; you could see it on film. I’m just going to go after him, get low and get in there,” said Levering.
Size is the one thing that coaches can’t teach, and to a certain extent, prepare their teams for. Since Fredericktown has just one player that even comes close to Wheelersburg’s big men, the Freddies must stick to what’s worked so far this season.
“Wheelersburg will be a big challenge because they are physical and really bull rush to the gaps,” Awwiller said. “It is going to be important in protection to key our pads low and try to drive them back.
“Personally, I like the bigger guys because normally they are not as fast. The bigger they are, if you are quicker and have a speed advantage, it makes it a whole lot easier to block them. If they are smaller and move around a lot, it is hard to keep on them. The biggest challenge will be their strength.”
Getting past the big offensive line and into the backfield won’t be easy for the Freddies, but if they can do it once, they believe it will push the momentum into their favor time and time again.
“Every time someone makes a big play on defense, it fires the whole team up,” said Peppers. “We’ve got a big test this week. We’ve got to shut down their trio of guys; we need to come out and hit them in the mouth. They are a big, physical team with fast backs so we can’t let them get going. ... We need to get off to a fast start and take control of the game early.”
“It is going to be a tough game, but if we play our game and execute, we can win,” said Mann.