Fredericktown motivated by playoff absence; 16 starters back

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Fredericktown Freddies

The Fredericktown Freddies weren’t expected to push for a playoff
appearance in 2008, despite coming off a 10-3 season and a regional
final bid in 2007. But the Freddies surpassed expectations, putting
together a team that nearly found themselves in the postseason once
again. This year they plan to land in the playoffs.


Fredericktown (8-2)

* Players To Watch – QB/OLB/DB Thomas Hinkle (6-3, 205, Sr.), TB/LB Curtis Ruhl (5-11, 180, Sr.). WB Tony Lybarger (5-10, 165, Jr.), WR/CB Tyler Hathaway (5-8, 145, Jr.), OL Logan Awwiller (6-1, 235, Jr.), MLB Austin Hoeflich (5-10, 170, Jr.), OL/DL Nick Stacey (6-2, 240, Jr.), DT/OG Jordon Levering (5-10, 205, Sr.)

* Outlook – The Fredericktown Freddies weren’t expected to push for a playoff appearance in 2008, despite coming off a 10-3 season and a regional final bid in 2007. But the Freddies surpassed expectations, putting together a team that nearly found themselves in the postseason once again.

“At the end of the season last year, there were a lot of mixed emotions because we were a young team, and I don’t think anyone would have expected us to go 8-2 at the beginning of the season,” head coach Luke Beal said. “But once the season started and we started having some success, the kids I think were really counting on making another trip to the playoffs. So despite the nice record, there was some disappointment at the end of the season when we just missed the playoffs.”

This year’s team returns at least 16 starters from last year, and the expectations will be high. The near-miss of another postseason appearance has stuck with the Freddies as motivation for 2009.

“It’s been a real motivator for us in the offseason,” Beal said. “We had a great winter and spring, and it’s really motivated our kids because they knew how close we were.”

In addition to a playoff appearance, the Freddies aim to do something else they have fallen short of accomplishing the past couple of years.

“The big thing for us last year is there were just a handful of plays in critical games that made the difference in terms of us missing out on a chance at winning our league and making the playoffs,” Beal said. “Our top priority right now is to try and win our league. Despite the nice season that we’ve had the past two years, that’s been a source of disappointment for us — we have not been able to win the league, and that’s got to be our top priority. Hopefully what our our guys got from last season is every snap counts. We’ve got to play four great quarters in every game that we play.”

Despite having lots of players returning, this year’s team does have some areas where the team will need to focus on.

“I think a big thing for us is we have a few areas where we are going to have some young players,” Beal said. “In the secondary, that’s an area where we lost two starters last year. We also have at a number of positions guys that were kind of role players last year that are going to have to step up into starting positions. Of course, every year’s a little bit different, so we’ll need this group of seniors to set the tone early. Expectations are high, which is good, but we want to make sure that we have a great work ethic over the summer and in our summer practices and that we’re doing everything we can to get better.”

Overall, Fredericktown will have high hopes for the season, but Beal will be stressing that the team not get ahead of themselves and focus on the task at hand.

“We play a pretty tough schedule, so our guys, the big lesson that we’re trying to take into next year is we can’t take anything for granted,” Beal said. “We do have a lot of potential, but we’ve got to make sure that we take care of every detail, and we’ve got to be ready to play every snap of every game. The thing for us is just to take one thing at a time, and right now the only game we’re worried about is our first game against Highland. That’s always a big rivalry for us. It was a really close game last year; we only beat them by a point. So we’re just trying to keep our eye on the ball and take things one thing at a time right now.”

Schedule

8/28 HIGHLAND (SPARTA)        
9/4 BERNE UNION (SUGAR GROVE)    
9/11 @ COLONEL CRAWFORD (NORTH ROBINSON)    
9/18 NORTHRIDGE (JOHNSTOWN)    
9/25 DANVILLE
10/2 @ JOHNSTOWN-MONROE
10/9 @ EAST KNOX (HOWARD)        
10/16 UTICA
10/23 @ CENTERBURG
10/30 @ LOUDONVILLE

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