District 11 6A Finals - Parkland vs. Freedom

RoverNation05

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Aug 22, 2010
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I've been derelict in writing during the D11 playoffs, but a pretty good final coming up tonight in the Lehigh Valley. In a twist of the knife to me, personally, the D11 finals will be held at newly renovated Cottingham Stadium, the first playoff game hosted by my alma mater. District 11 went to neutral site for finals (which I HATE, but that's another story) and Freedom and Parkland will be making the trek to West Ward this evening.

This is a rematch of a week 3 game, won by Parkland 21-13. In that match up, Parkland essentially played keep-away from Freedom, running almost double the amount of plays and amassing a 10+ minute touchdown drive between the 3rd and 4th quarters that iced the game. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Parkland running back Trey Tremba hurt his shoulder in the first half and did not play for the next several weeks. Since week 3, Freedom has not lost, while Parkland sputtered a bit while weathering injuries to Tremba, quarterback Luke Spang, and wideout Nahki Bullock, but has been on a roll since getting fully healthy.

Freedom
Freedom was the preseason #3 team in the state after giving St. Joseph's Prep the toughest game from a D11 team since 2015 and returning a bulk of their starters. They lost a D11 finals rematch in their season opener to Emmaus (who was the #1 seed in the D11 tournament) and obviously dropped the week 3 game to Parkland recapped above. But Freedom has been on a tear and I have been of the opinion all year that the Patriots have the most talented roster in the Valley. Offensively, it starts with running back Jalen Fletcher, the latest in a long line of excellently productive backs for Jason Roeder's crew. Fletcher leads the Lehigh Valley with 1,321 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He's a three year starter at cornerback and had been the Patriots leading receiver as a junior before taking over at tailback for graduated EPC Offensive Player of the Yeear Deonte Crawford. He's put up remarkably similar numbers to Crawford, and is similiar in size (5'10 190) and should be a solid PSAC level player - he brings some thump with good size, but he's not huge, and he can run for a high school back but isn't a burner. They also have a real run threat in QB Ethan Neidig. Neidig has rushed for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for 1,405 and 11 TDs. Neidig started at quarterback in 2020 when there was an ineligibility issue with their regular starter, then Neidig moved to receiver as a junior and caught 7 TDs last season before moving back to QB. He's a big kid (6'4 210) who can grind out yards between the tackles and has a good enough arm to challenge defenses over the top. His best receiver is Harvard commit Owen Johnson, who is coming up on 100 career catches for the Patriots. He's an unorthodox receiver for high school, in that he's a tank (6'1 220) but is great in challenged catch situations. Alexie Sangster is more of the deep threat on the outside. Up front, Freedom has a very solid offensive line, with Rashawn Nichols and Ryan Hoffman both earning All Conference honors on the interior. What they are lacking is a 300 pound, FBS offensive tackle which they've had for the last six years of their run.

Defensively, it starts with Owen Johnson, the EPC Defensive Player of the Year and kind of the perfect linebacker for Freedom's defense. Freedom was one of the early adopters of the 3-3-5 stack with a hybrid safety/linebacker defender which has become the calling card of the entire Jason Roeder regime. Johnson is built like a big high school linebacker but gets sideline to sideline better than anybody in the Valley at his position and is as good in coverage as he is in the run game. He's going to Harvard to play outside linebacker and that will be where he makes his biggest impact tonight. Their second best defender is his twin brother Kyle, also a Harvard commit who is more of a downhill, middle linebacker who they like to blitz and get involved more in the run game. Fletcher and Sangster are both best of their position types at corner and safety. The defensive line is missing another staple of a Greg Moore defense - one of his sons as a game wrecker at 3-technique (Kaden was a freshman All American last year at Virginia Tech and Braelin just finishes his 2x All State career at Freedom and joined his older brother with the Hokies). What he does have is basketball standout Nick Ellis, a 6'4 230 defensive end who averages 20 points per game for his career as a basketball player. He did not play football in 2020 or 2021, but has been an all league pass rusher this season. He's a great athlete coming off the edge with prototypical size for a HS defensive end. If they're going to contain Parkland's passing game, Ellis getting pressure will be a big reason why.

Parkland
The Trojans also got off to a rough start - opening the season 2-3 with losses to Nazareth, 5A Finalist Whitehall, and 4A champ Allentown Central Catholic. Now, while that looks rough on paper, Parkland lost leading rusher Trey Tremba in the first half of their win over Freedom, then quarterback Luke Spang did not play against either Whitehall or ACC. In his place, leading receiver Nahki Bullock got the start as an option QB against Whitheall, but he got injured on a QB run play and missed the next three weeks. Without their three best skill guys, the Trojans struggled. But since all three returned, Parkland's only loss was a week 10 loss to Emmaus. Their run through the playoffs has been soft, however. They opened with Nazareth, who despite being the EPC champ, also lost their quarterback and EPC Offensive Player of the Year before the game. Then they beat Northampton, who was 10-0, but in the North and clearly not on the level of the top EPC South teams.

Offensively, they’ve got balance, but it starts with Trey Tremba. After being slowed by injuries early, the junior has run for 1,141 yards and 23 total touchdowns rushing and receiving. He ran for 216 in the win over Nazareth. He’s been used both as a receiver and running back in his career, and is the best all purpose back in the Valley. He should see FCS attention through recruiting. He’s backed up by freshman Marquez Wimberly, who is going to be a big deal. Luke Spang has had a very solid year at QB, throwing for 1,700 yards and 15 TDs. He’s also run for five touchdowns. The catches are split between Tremba, Bullick, and Jack Harrison, with Harrison their leading receiver, but Bullock the scariest athlete they can get the ball to. He’s battled injuries, and only played in nine games, but is fully healthy at this point. The offensive line has all league pick Russell Clark at guard.

Defensively, it’s not the same killer Parkland defense at their apex, but they’re solid on that side of the ball. Bullock and Wimberly play corner and are the best duo in the Valley. Rush linebacker/end Nate Kemmerer leads the league in sacks with 10 and will be a huge X factor tonight. Victor Pagan at middle linebacker is their leading tackler.

Parkland also has a Division I kicker in Griffin Mitstifer, who is their best all state candidate and obviously a weapon in the punting and kicking game.

My Analysis
Freedom has been to six of the last seven D11 championships, and they were a Hail Mary away from being 7-7. A win would be their third title since 2018. Parkland has not won since beating Freedom in 2017. They lost on a two point conversion in 2019 to Nazareth. A win gives Parkland an 11th D11 title.

Two of the best coaches in theValley going at it, which is always a lot of fun. Jason Roeder at Freedom is the Dean of Lehigh Valley coaches at this point, holding the Freedom job since 2006. Tim Moncman has been the head coach at Parkland since 2016, and served as the DC when he returned to coaching in 2012. He is a Freedom alum who won a state title and made three finals as the head coach at Liberty. He’s 3-0 against his alma mater in D11 finals with wins in 2016 and 2017 at Parkland and in 2008 on his way to Liberty’s state title.

I know Parkland won the first one but…I just think Freedom is better? The Patriots can win more ways. Parkland will have to play keepaway and recreate week 3. Freedom can ride Fletcher, they can get it going in the pass game, they can have a defensive struggle, all are within their purview. Owen Johnson is the best player on the field, I think he can shadow Tremba in a way that gives Freedom a big advantage in defense, and they get enough offense to three-peat as D11 champs, a feat only accomplished by Parkland (2012-2017) and Bethlehem Catholic (1999-2001) in the highest classification.
 
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Hausmann1978

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May 5, 2021
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I've been derelict in writing during the D11 playoffs, but a pretty good final coming up tonight in the Lehigh Valley. In a twist of the knife to me, personally, the D11 finals will be held at newly renovated Cottingham Stadium, the first playoff game hosted by my alma mater. District 11 went to neutral site for finals (which I HATE, but that's another story) and Freedom and Parkland will be making the trek to West Ward this evening.

This is a rematch of a week 3 game, won by Parkland 21-13. In that match up, Parkland essentially played keep-away from Freedom, running almost double the amount of plays and amassing a 10+ minute touchdown drive between the 3rd and 4th quarters that iced the game. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Parkland running back Trey Tremba hurt his shoulder in the first half and did not play for the next several weeks. Since week 3, Freedom has not lost, while Parkland sputtered a bit while weathering injuries to Tremba, quarterback Luke Spang, and wideout Nahki Bullock, but has been on a roll since getting fully healthy.

Freedom
Freedom was the preseason #3 team in the state after giving St. Joseph's Prep the toughest game from a D11 team since 2015 and returning a bulk of their starters. They lost a D11 finals rematch in their season opener to Emmaus (who was the #1 seed in the D11 tournament) and obviously dropped the week 3 game to Parkland recapped above. But Freedom has been on a tear and I have been of the opinion all year that the Patriots have the most talented roster in the Valley. Offensively, it starts with running back Jalen Fletcher, the latest in a long line of excellently productive backs for Jason Roeder's crew. Fletcher leads the Lehigh Valley with 1,321 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He's a three year starter at cornerback and had been the Patriots leading receiver as a junior before taking over at tailback for graduated EPC Offensive Player of the Yeear Deonte Crawford. He's put up remarkably similar numbers to Crawford, and is similiar in size (5'10 190) and should be a solid PSAC level player - he brings some thump with good size, but he's not huge, and he can run for a high school back but isn't a burner. They also have a real run threat in QB Ethan Neidig. Neidig has rushed for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for 1,405 and 11 TDs. Neidig started at quarterback in 2020 when there was an ineligibility issue with their regular starter, then Neidig moved to receiver as a junior and caught 7 TDs last season before moving back to QB. He's a big kid (6'4 210) who can grind out yards between the tackles and has a good enough arm to challenge defenses over the top. His best receiver is Harvard commit Owen Johnson, who is coming up on 100 career catches for the Patriots. He's an unorthodox receiver for high school, in that he's a tank (6'1 220) but is great in challenged catch situations. Alexie Sangster is more of the deep threat on the outside. Up front, Freedom has a very solid offensive line, with Rashawn Nichols and Ryan Hoffman both earning All Conference honors on the interior. What they are lacking is a 300 pound, FBS offensive tackle which they've had for the last six years of their run.

Defensively, it starts with Owen Johnson, the EPC Defensive Player of the Year and kind of the perfect linebacker for Freedom's defense. Freedom was one of the early adopters of the 3-3-5 stack with a hybrid safety/linebacker defender which has become the calling card of the entire Jason Roeder regime. Johnson is built like a big high school linebacker but gets sideline to sideline better than anybody in the Valley at his position and is as good in coverage as he is in the run game. He's going to Harvard to play outside linebacker and that will be where he makes his biggest impact tonight. Their second best defender is his twin brother Kyle, also a Harvard commit who is more of a downhill, middle linebacker who they like to blitz and get involved more in the run game. Fletcher and Sangster are both best of their position types at corner and safety. The defensive line is missing another staple of a Greg Moore defense - one of his sons as a game wrecker at 3-technique (Kaden was a freshman All American last year at Virginia Tech and Braelin just finishes his 2x All State career at Freedom and joined his older brother with the Hokies). What he does have is basketball standout Nick Ellis, a 6'4 230 defensive end who averages 20 points per game for his career as a basketball player. He did not play football in 2020 or 2021, but has been an all league pass rusher this season. He's a great athlete coming off the edge with prototypical size for a HS defensive end. If they're going to contain Parkland's passing game, Ellis getting pressure will be a big reason why.

Parkland
The Trojans also got off to a rough start - opening the season 2-3 with losses to Nazareth, 5A Finalist Whitehall, and 4A champ Allentown Central Catholic. Now, while that looks rough on paper, Parkland lost leading rusher Trey Tremba in the first half of their win over Freedom, then quarterback Luke Spang did not play against either Whitehall or ACC. In his place, leading receiver Nahki Bullock got the start as an option QB against Whitheall, but he got injured on a QB run play and missed the next three weeks. Without their three best skill guys, the Trojans struggled. But since all three returned, Parkland's only loss was a week 10 loss to Emmaus. Their run through the playoffs has been soft, however. They opened with Nazareth, who despite being the EPC champ, also lost their quarterback and EPC Offensive Player of the Year before the game. Then they beat Northampton, who was 10-0, but in the North and clearly not on the level of the top EPC South teams.

Offensively, they’ve got balance, but it starts with Trey Tremba. After being slowed by injuries early, the junior has run for 1,141 yards and 23 total touchdowns rushing and receiving. He ran for 216 in the win over Nazareth. He’s been used both as a receiver and running back in his career, and is the best all purpose back in the Valley. He should see FCS attention through recruiting. He’s backed up by freshman Marquez Wimberly, who is going to be a big deal. Luke Spang has had a very solid year at QB, throwing for 1,700 yards and 15 TDs. He’s also run for five touchdowns. The catches are split between Tremba, Bullick, and Jack Harrison, with Harrison their leading receiver, but Bullock the scariest athlete they can get the ball to. He’s battled injuries, and only played in nine games, but is fully healthy at this point. The offensive line has all league pick Russell Clark at guard.

Defensively, it’s not the same killer Parkland defense at their apex, but they’re solid on that side of the ball. Bullock and Wimberly play corner and are the best duo in the Valley. Rush linebacker/end Nate Kemmerer leads the league in sacks with 10 and will be a huge X factor tonight. Victor Pagan at middle linebacker is their leading tackler.

Parkland also has a Division I kicker in Griffin Mitstifer, who is their best all state candidate and obviously a weapon in the punting and kicking game.

My Analysis
Freedom has been to six of the last seven D11 championships, and they were a Hail Mary away from being 7-7. A win would be their third title since 2018. Parkland has not won since beating Freedom in 2017. They lost on a two point conversion in 2019 to Nazareth. A win gives Parkland an 11th D11 title.

Two of the best coaches in theValley going at it, which is always a lot of fun. Jason Roeder at Freedom is the Dean of Lehigh Valley coaches at this point, holding the Freedom job since 2006. Tim Moncman has been the head coach at Parkland since 2016, and served as the DC when he returned to coaching in 2012. He is a Freedom alum who won a state title and made three finals as the head coach at Liberty. He’s 3-0 against his alma mater in D11 finals with wins in 2016 and 2017 at Parkland and in 2008 on his way to Liberty’s state title.

I know Parkland won the first one but…I just think Freedom is better? The Patriots can win more ways. Parkland will have to play keepaway and recreate week 3. Freedom can ride Fletcher, they can get it going in the pass game, they can have a defensive struggle, all are within their purview. Owen Johnson is the best player on the field, I think he can shadow Tremba in a way that gives Freedom a big advantage in defense, and they get enough offense to three-peat as D11 champs, a feat only accomplished by Parkland (2012-2017) and Bethlehem Cathinolic (1999-2001) in the highest classification.
Rover SJP is one of the best teams in the country so will parkland have a chance next week? 6A in western pa is down this year and state college and NA will be a good game but I'm expecting a blow out in Cumberland valley. NA isnt even close to 17 Pine Richland or last year's Mt Lebo team.
 
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BJMaher

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Nov 16, 2021
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Have to agree 100% Haus, there is no team as good as Mount Lebo was last year and St Joe's prep should murder their way to another state title.
 

BJMaher

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Nov 16, 2021
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But I will be rooting with everything I have that everybody on St Joe's prep get sick and they somehow lose a game.
 

RoverNation05

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Aug 22, 2010
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Short answer: no

They won convincingly Friday, Trey Tremba dominated (but also got hurt and missed the second half). They’re getting healthy at the right time. But this is still a team that went 6-4 in the regular season. They finished .500 in division play, and tied for 5th in the EPC South. If they dropped the first weekend of playoffs and went back to a four team tournament like I think they should, Parkland wouldn’t have made the field - they were the 6 seed. This is the first time ever the 6A champ has lost to the 5A champ and the 4A champ in D11. Frankly, a healthy Sonny Sasso and they would have been out the first weekend.

They’re probably the worst team that D11 has sent to the largest classification of the state tournament since Liberty’s 7-4 group in 1994 (in a weird year where ACC and Becahi dominated and all the 4A teams were eh). So take SJP minus whatever points you can find.
 

Hausmann1978

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May 5, 2021
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Short answer: no

They won convincingly Friday, Trey Tremba dominated (but also got hurt and missed the second half). They’re getting healthy at the right time. But this is still a team that went 6-4 in the regular season. They finished .500 in division play, and tied for 5th in the EPC South. If they dropped the first weekend of playoffs and went back to a four team tournament like I think they should, Parkland wouldn’t have made the field - they were the 6 seed. This is the first time ever the 6A champ has lost to the 5A champ and the 4A champ in D11. Frankly, a healthy Sonny Sasso and they would have been out the first weekend.

They’re probably the worst team that D11 has sent to the largest classification of the state tournament since Liberty’s 7-4 group in 1994 (in a weird year where ACC and Becahi dominated and all the 4A teams were eh). So take SJP minus whatever points you can find.
It seems the same way out west. I'm going to predict a NA SJP finals with SJP winning by 4+ touchdowns.