The Talon

Freedom owns Cardinal district honors once again

Two of Freedom's best prepare for their final playoff run.

Sarah B. Boutwell
The Freedom Eagles varsity football team will face-off in the opening round of the playoffs against Hylton High School this Saturday, November 10 at noon. The Bulldogs ended the Eagles' playoff run last season.

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It’s not often that one school is home to football’s offensive and defensive players of the year as well as coach of year, and they are the two-time Cardinal District champions.  In the Cardinal district, Freedom occupies that space.  Not only do they reserve the rights to those three all-district honors, they occupy twenty other slots on the All-District team, a feat never reached until now at Freedom.

Ty’Quan Brown received All-Cardinal District Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as First Team Offense. His friend and four-year teammate Joshua Fuga now holds the All-Cardinal District Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as First Team Defense and Offense.  These senior leaders are appreciative of the player of the year honors, but don’t want to let that overshadow their next test, which is playing Hylton High School in the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s a great honor to receive Defensive Player of the year, but it’s just another step towards the ultimate goal, which is winning states. If we lose this weekend, that won’t really mean nothing.” says Joshua Fuga. He goes on to say, “Ever since we lost to Hylton last year, I’ve felt as a team we’ve had the  urge to play them again, and having this opportunity again at home, to face them, it’s a blessing. You can’t ask for anything more,” said the Temple University commit.

Leading rusher Ty’Quan Brown says about last year’s game, “Right after we lost, I took it hard, because we were actually like a state championship team, and we made a couple mistakes and couldn’t get the job done. I don’t ever want to feel that feeling again. When we were in the locker room handing in our stuff, I knew that I never wanted to feel that pain again.”

Brown is now the second-leading running back in Prince William County history with 6,018 yards. He surpassed Penn State freshman and Hylton graduate Ricky Slade’s 5,540 total yards in the Gar-Field game on October 26. Woodbridge graduate De’Antwan Williams is the county’s No. 1 all-time leading rusher with 6,607 yards.

Brown credits his offensive line and wide receivers for helping him to rack up so many yards. “It’s a blessing because it was one of my goals I had set before the season and I didn’t really know if I was going to reach it or not, but my offensive line did a great job as well as my wide receivers because they block too.” He patterns his play off of LeVeon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys.

Although these two gladly accept being leaders on this year’s team, they admit it wasn’t always like that. They both saw that their roles needed to change in order for this year’s team to not only simulate, but surpass last year’s success. “Last year I wasn’t being a leader, I was just playing, and wasn’t really in charge of anything,” Freedom running back Ty’Quan Brown said.  “Now that I’m a senior, this is our last try and we are actually leaders, so it’s different now.”  He said, “Coach O put us in a group chat and we talked about how we can become better leaders and ever since then, we’ve tried to step up.”


Talon Q & A

Game Prep: What do you think Hylton will bring to this game that you all need to match?

Fuga: “The intensity. I think now that they know our weaknesses, they will try to beat that. We have to have the same intensity from when we walk on the field until the end of the game.”

How do you match the intensity from a team like Hylton?

Brown: “We have to stay focused and remember that we were in this same position last year, and we lost, and this is our senior year and this could be our last time playing together so we just gotta remember that and that will keep us going, keep us on our toes.”

Coach Darryl Overton: “Receiving Cardinal District Coach of the Year is nice because it validates your hard work.

On preparing for Hylton… “This year’s different. We are preparing like it’s a brand new game, a brand new team. We’ve scouted this game as if this is a new team.”

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Do you look at your teammates as brothers?

Brown: “We are family oriented. We are always together and the young kids see that too. So now they are always together.”

Fuga: “We are all family, and the young people are inheriting that. They are going to live up to our legacy that we are going to leave them. We built the Freedom program with this group, the class of 2019, and I think they’re going to live up to that expectation and carry on our legacy.  I think for them, they are actually finding that it is a true blessing to have us as leaders to look up to, to ask questions whenever they feel down or just somebody to talk to.  Our senior group is one of the best groups that we’ve had and we have set off the Freedom football program.”

Who do you pattern your style of play from?

Fuga: “I base my play style off of Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. He’s quick with his hands, he knows how to get off the block, and him fighting the double teams. I face that (double-teaming) really every game I’ve played in my life.  He can really show me what to do and how to do it. It’s just what he does in the game and that is what I can really see myself following.

On playing against your friends…

Friends and rivals – A lot of people look at social media and assume there is a lot of bad blood between the players and teams, but actually there are some strong bonds between them. Some of Freedom’s biggest rival schools have players that are what Brown says are some of his good friends. He even has a cousin who is his rival on the field, but family off the field.  Brown says he is able to separate the two and says, “…things aren’t really that serious as people think on social media,” but he recognizes how sometimes the lines could get blurred.

——-

The game has been rescheduled from this Friday, November 9 to Saturday, November 10 at noon.

 

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Freedom owns Cardinal district honors once again