Eagles claw their way to victory against the Vikings

FHS travels to Heritage on Sept. 2


Michael Baker III

Grant Hillenbrand runs the ball during the Friday night home opener against the Vikings.

Michael Baker III, Staff Writer

Freedom Eagles won the football season home opener against the Loudoun Valley Vikings 29-26 on Friday, Aug. 28. FHS celebrated opening day with festivals during and after school.

For the first time since March 2020, FHS students were able to participate in a pep rally. To help with the social distancing, the pep rally was held outside on the football field. Students were able to hear the band play, meet the varsity football team and cheer on their class during games.

After school, a tailgate was held in the bus loop with clubs and food trucks participating in the pre-game celebration. 

The game didn’t start off in the Eagles’ favor. In the first three minutes of the game, the Vikings were on the board with a score of 0-8.  On the next kickoff, Freedom’s Nathan Chen caught the ball and ran for a touchdown. With a 2-point conversion, the Eagles tied the game 8-8. 

Both teams scored during the second. At the end of the third, the score was 21-20. Rain started to fall a little before the half, and during the third quarter lightning suspended play for 30 minutes.  

“The key part of dealing with the delay was to relax,” said Caspian Bell, senior. “With a 30 minute break you’ll wear yourself out if you stay tense. We relaxed and then locked back in after we got back on the field and started warming up again.”

During the final quarter, Freedom and Valley scored during the fourth, but the Eagles kept the lead. At the buzzer, Freedom held on to a 29-26 victory. 

“We played a very physical game and were able to outlast Valley in the game,” said Justin Schenck, offensive coach. “The Freedom athletes played a great physical game and were able to wear down the opponent and capitalize on their mistakes.”

Winning the first game of the year felt amazing,” Grant Hillenbrand, sophomore and safety. “I feel like our team went 100% every play and we didn’t get down on ourselves and others when things went wrong.”

Coaches and players have their sights set on another victory. 

“We are preparing the same way we do every game, scouting our opponent to find the weaknesses in the defense,” Schenck said. “We plan to play another physical game and are preparing our players to be the more physical team on field once again.

The Eagles will travel to Heritage to face off against the Lions on Thursday, Sept. 2. Game time is 7 p.m.