FREMONT – It’s been a trying year for the Fremont Ross football team and the Little Giants’ season finale was a microcosm for the year as a while.
Fremont Ross’ offense moved the ball in spurts – but more often than not bogged down due to missed opportunities or self-inflicted miscues, including a gut-punch interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The defense began strong, particularly when left out the dry early by a special teams gaffe, but tired as the evening wore on, yielding a handful of big plays and long drives.
A season defined by youth and inexperience gaining reps and maturity on the fly, ended Friday night with a 43-7 loss to Oregon Clay.
“I’m not used to losing,” said head coach Chad Long. “So it’s been very frustrating, but at the same token, the kids didn’t give up, no matter the adversity they were going through.
“We have a lot of freshman and sophomores playing and hopefully that will pay dividends down the road – but it may not be next year. We don’t know. We’ll see how they progress in the offseason and how they get better.”
The Little Giant defense began the night strong. Clay’s first possession began at Ross’ 12-yard line but the defense held the Eagles to just a 30-yard field goal for the game’s first score.
After a Ross interception at midfield, Clay drove into Ross’ red zone but again was stopped short. This time, the Eagles ran a fake field goal which was quickly snuffed out by Ross’ defense, giving the Little Giant momentum.
Early in the second quarter, having driven from its own 24-yard line, Ross capped one of its longest drives of the season on a fourth-down quarterback sneak by Kaden Holmes for a 2-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead with 10:25 to play before halftime.
Then the roof caved in on the Little Giants.
Clay answered Ross’ touchdown drive with one of its own, spanning 65 yards in eight plays, capped by an 8-yard run by quarterback Logan Heintschel as the Eagles re-took the lead.
On the second play of Ross’ ensuing possession, Holmes’ pass was intercepted and returned 35 yards for Clay’s second touchdown in a minute.
“When you have kids stop the routes and don’t continue running the routes, (interceptions are) going to happen,” Long said. “That’s an effort thing. Kids think they’re making the right call, breaking their routes, but that’s not what it’s designed for and that’s a prime example of doing what you want to do instead of what the route tells you to do.”
Ross’ next series ended in a 3-and-out, after which it took Clay just three plays before Heintschel score his second touchdown of the quarter on a 19-yard carry.
But the Eagles weren’t finished. In the final minute, Heintschel connected on a 36-yard strike with Andrew Collins to take a 30-7 lead into halftime.
“The first quarter we were playing really, really good,” Long said. “Then the second quarter came and it looked like we never knew what the heck was happening.
“We have not played defense the way we want them to play – knowing exactly what they’re doing – all year long and it’s unfortunate. It’s been a bad season and I have no words to explain that.”
While the second quarter featured big plays by Clay’s offense, the third quarter was death by a thousand paper cuts for Ross. The Eagles maintained long, time-consuming drives, scoring twice while Ross ran just eight offensive plays and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 36 points.
“They gashed us all over the place,” Long said of the third quarter. “I don’t know if it’s being tired or just being sloppy. A lot of kids did a lot of wrong things the entire time and play after play they were gashing us.”
The season concludes with a 1-9 overall record and an 0-7 mark in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. It also marks the end the careers of 18 seniors, including the defensive front consisting of Dontrez Brown, Jason Burling, Cardon Brandon and Nick Mayle.
What the senior class lacked in overall depth, Long said it made up for in character and leadership which will be sorely missed as the program tries to move forward.
“This is a good senior group, guys of character, guys of great leadership that just did not have enough firepower with the rest of their class,” Long said. “They will truly be missed. This was a great, great class. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the season we thought we would have, but they’ve been positive about it, really talking up the younger kids.
“These guys are great student athletes,” Long added. “The senior group carries like a 3.7 grade point average, that tells you a bit about the character of those senior guys. They did everything right.”
Oregon Clay 43, Fremont Ross 7
Score by quarters
OC| 3—27—13—0 43
FR| 0—7—0—0 7
OC – Rugar Wamer 30 field goal, 10:15
FR – Kaden Holmes 2 run (Alec Slemmer kick), 10:25
OC – Logan Heintschel 8 run (Wamer kick), 8:09
OC – 35 Interception return (kick fail), 7:11
OC – Heintschel 19 run (Wamer kick), 4:15
OC – Andrew Collins 36 pass from Heintschel (Wamer kick), 0:47.
OC – Kameron Miller 3 run (kick blocked), 2:21
OC – Cody Vascik 10 pass from Heintschel (Wamer kick), 0:20