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Freeman snares state football title

Sat., Dec. 14, 2013

Freeman’s Max Laib, behind, and Jesse Kitterman leap and hug while they and other players celebrate a 31-13 win over Mount Baker in the state 1A football championship game in Tacoma on Dec. 7. (Associated Press)
Freeman’s Max Laib, behind, and Jesse Kitterman leap and hug while they and other players celebrate a 31-13 win over Mount Baker in the state 1A football championship game in Tacoma on Dec. 7. (Associated Press)

They’re celebrating at Freeman High School in the wake of the Scotties winning the school’s first state football championship last weekend, beating Mount Baker in convincing fashion, 31-13.

If history holds, however, the real celebration by Scotties and their fans could come next year.

You see, the history of state championships at Freeman is that they come in pairs. The Class 1A football championship is the fifth state title in school history, and the previous four came in two memorable, back-to-back seasons in girls basketball and volleyball.

The school’s first state title came in 1980-81 when the volleyball team won the state Class B tournament, knocking off Ritzville in the final. The Scotties moved up to Class 1A the following season and won their second title in 1981-82, beating Ridgefield. Freeman’s girls basketball program won back-to-back state titles in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

State football championships are an enormous challenge that not only take talent but endurance and more than a little bit of luck. Of the Spokane Valley schools, only West Valley (in 1975-76 and 1976-77) has reached the state championship game in back-to-back seasons, winning the title in the Eagles’ second appearance.

Truth be told, a second trip to the final game of the season isn’t out of the question for coach Jim Wood’s Scotties.

The Scotties were a juggernaut this season, rolling through an undefeated 13-0 season, trailing only once during the regular season, and only briefly at that.

Freeman boasted exceptionally big offensive and defensive lines made up primarily of underclassmen – meaning the core of that line should return for the 2014-15 season. Jordan Rose (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) was the lone senior to start on the offensive line and he missed significant time during the season over a disciplinary issue. That means the offensive line should be all veterans of the state playoffs.

And the Scotties featured a pair of remarkable running backs in Max Laib and Markus Goldbach – both of whom ran for more than 1,300 yards.

In Laib, Freeman had a speedy, shifty running back who could change directions at will and accelerate like a sprinter. In Goldbach, it had a fullback with sprinter’s speed.

Which was faster? Wood would only smile at the question. Probably a dead heat if they had to race.

Goldbach returns to the Freeman backfield, and team depth could provide another backfield of contrasting styles next season.

Quarterback Preston Hoppman returns after a season that saw him grow at the position as both a field general and a passer.

The Scotties now turn their concentration to winter sports, meaning a repeat title is now merely a thought at the back of their collective minds.

But it’s there.



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