Max Doughty capped a determined Freeport drive against visiting Mountain Valley on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 8, putting his boys on the board midway through the third quarter. But Mountain Valley had largely controlled to that point, and they took over again afterward, ultimately capturing at 42-7 victory.

Freeport head coach Paul St. Pierre distilled his team’s frustrations into one number: “We’ve only given up six points at home this season,” he said. “To give up 42 is not our norm. We just had too much inconsistency. That’s one thing we’ve talked about: It can’t be a few guys every few plays; it has to be every guy, every play.”

Mountain Valley got on the board early, thwarting Freeport’s opening drive and capitalizing on their follow-up. Eli Turner did the honors, breaking away up the left side for a long rush TD and 6-0.

Freeport began their next series looking strong: TJ Morrill returned the Mountain Valley kickoff to his team’s 47 for fantastic starting field position, then dodged left across the 50 to set up second and six. QB Josh Burke then dashed up the middle for 20, but a holding flag on Cody Vachon called back most of those gains. The team pushed to third and 13 at the Mountain Valley 39, but from there Burke volleyed up a long bomb intended for Morrill that instead found the hands of Mountain Valley’s Kyle Farrar. 

Vachon’s was hardly the only penalty Freeport pulled during the first half. They drew a number of offsides calls, for example. St. Pierre expressed frustration with that aspect of their play: “We don’t have that big-play capability that you’d like. So when you’re moving the ball and getting momentum, you can’t do something dumb and bring yourself back. [Mountain Valley] wasn’t stopping us; we were stopping ourselves. Unfortunately, that happened last week, and it’s carried over to this week. We’ve got to shut that down real quick, or you’re not going to go anywhere.”

Freeport didn’t get down on themselves following the interception, instead opting to show their defensive stuff on Mountain Valley’s possession. Freeport forced Mountain Valley into a three-and-out deep in Mountain Valley’s own territory – but alas, Freeport still could not find a groove on the attack. Mountain Valley took over again and Farrar grinded home another six points from first and goal and just a few inches to go.

Freeport stood similarly strong on a late-second-quarter Mountain Valley drive. Sure, the visitors pushed to within striking distance, but their hosts then stood them up in the red zone. From first and goal at the three, Freeport stymied Mountain Valley on three run attempts, forcing them to kick a field goal.

Asked about his boys’ defensive efforts, St. Pierre nodded once more to their inconsistency. “Some plays, they’re ready to go, they make the play; other plays, they – I don’t know if it’s because they’re gassed, or because [Mountain Valley was] hitting the right areas. We’ll watch the film and find out exactly what happened.”

Mountain Valley found the end zone again soon. QB Nick Newman hurled a long-bomb left to Will Bean in the waning seconds before the break to grab a TD that noticeably got beneath Freeport’s skin.

Thankfully, St. Pierre and his fellow coaches settled their boys down during halftime, and when Freeport returned for the third quarter, they quickly stuffed Mountain Valley’s opening drive and launched into an extended one of their own.

That series began from first and 10 at Mountain Valley’s 48; Burke, Doughty, Vachon and Connor Dostie them heaped up a long series of short runs to hop from the 41, to the 28, to the 33, the 31, the 23, the 19, the 16 and the 14. Burke next bulled his way through the middle for first and goal at the five. A flag handed Freeport two-and-a-half more yards, Dostie pushed for one and Doughty, finally, barreled into the end zone to put his boys on the board. Morrill added the PAT and, with plenty of time yet to spare, it authentically seemed like Freeport might fight back into it. 22-7.

“We had a very intense halftime meeting,” said St. Pierre. “We had to get some energy going with the guys. They know the playoffs are in sight, and it’s a really big potential. So they know they can’t give up. That’s one thing we’ve encouraged, is not to quit. We’re still a young, up-and-coming team, and the biggest thing is just show heart and fire and keep pushing.”

Alas, the remainder of the game went Mountain Valley’s way. Freeport, their roster shrunken in recent weeks by injuries and slipshod academic performances, found themselves beat-up and fatigued, and facing an opponent with plenty of fire to spare. Farrar, Eli Turner and Jasper Turner all added TDs in the fourth quarter for the 42-7 final.

Based strictly on the standings, the game looked like one Freeport should’ve had a shot at. Both squads were 2-3 entering the bout, and their Heal Points values weren’t that far removed from one another. But again, Freeport’s recent roster setbacks – the team is down to 22 boys, at present – have taken a toll. The team’s loss to Mountain Valley was their third straight.

“We’re on a three-game losing streak now, so frustrations are getting high,” said St. Pierre. “But that’s honestly a good thing, because we have higher expectations now. If you have higher expectations, you’re not going to settle for this. Last year, we were 0-8, and we settled. It was, ‘Oh, okay, this is the norm.’ Now, are we outgunned, most games? Yeah. Are we outmanned? Yeah. So we have an uphill struggle most weeks, but we do expect better results. That’s the good thing: These guys are holding themselves to a higher standard.”

“A few of our better players have been out with injuries, and that’s really tough to overcome,” St. Pierre said. “But the thing is, these guys look around and they know there’s not many backups. If you have a backup, you’re lucky to have one, and it’s usually a freshman or a sophomore. So if you absolutely can’t go, you’re putting a young guy on the hook…And they’re a tight-knit group; they don’t want to let each other down.”

Two games remain on No. 7 Freeport’s regular season schedule: No.8 Lake Region (1-5) at home on Saturday the 15th and No. 5 Yarmouth (3-3) on the road the following Friday. The Falcons mean to make the playoffs this year. A win – or, better yet, a pair of wins – in this last stretch would, obviously, go a long way to cementing that.

St. Pierre feels “50-50” about the remainder of the team’s schedule. “If we play to our full potential, and play the way we’re supposed to – the way we did at the beginning of the season – we’ll be fine. I’m not going to overlook Lake Region, and they shouldn’t either. But we’re going to hungry, hungry for that win.” 

“The thing is,” St. Pierre, “I don’t give up. My coaches don’t give up. And those players, they’re not quitting. They may be getting banged up, but they’re not going to quit. And if we keep fighting, good things are going to happen.”

Lined up near the Mtn. Valley end zone, Freeport QB Josh Burke directs his offense while center Tucker Ginn waits for the snap call.

Freeporter Deven Hannan latches onto a Mtn. Valley runner.

Max Doughty skirts up the left side on a Freeport run.

Freeporter TJ Morrill loses his footing as he cuts to track a Mtn. Valley ball-carrier.

Freeport QB Josh Burke fires off a pass in the Falcons’ loss to Mtn. Valley on Saturday.

The Falcons talk strategy between plays.

TJ Morrill dodges away from an on-rushing Mtn. Valley defender.