Hardworking Fremd posts opening-round shutout
Fremd doesn't show up for work in a white shirt and tie. It is all blue collar for the Vikings.
That approach paid huge dividends for Fremd Friday as the Vikings blanked Plainfield North 19-0 in the opening round of the Class 8A football playoffs in Palatine.
Fremd (8-2), which won its first playoff game since 2016, will play the winner of Saturday's Warren-Plainfield East game in the second round.
Fremd coach Lou Sponsel loves his team's approach to the game.
"We are old school," Sponsel said. "We hit and the kids are taking pride in what they are doing. We are not flashy, but a tough bunch of kids. They come to work every day and do their job."
Fremd's defense again showed up for work ready to go. The Vikings posted their fourth shutout in their last 7 games. The Vikings held Plainfield North (6-4) to just 2 first downs in the first half and 9 for the game.
More importantly the defense, led by Jack Walsh, Nate Stevens Ryan Palmer, Jack Hipchen, Ryan Palmer, Andrew Saxe, Jason Haas, Trey Castella, Joey Rattin and Will Kristo, limited Plainfield speedster and Purdue-commit Marcellus Moore to just 19 rushing yards and 46 receiving yards.
"We had the whole week to prepare," said Stevens, who had an interception. "Our coaching staff put every play of their playbook in. We knew every play before they ran it."
After a scoreless first quarter, Fremd and quarterback Ryan Saxe went to work. The Vikings marched 79 yards in 12 plays, using just over six minutes of the clock. Saxe capped the drive on a 2-yard run to make it 7-0 with 3:15 left in the first half.
The Vikings and Ryan Saxe weren't done.
After another defensive stop, Fremd took over at its own 25. Ryan Saxe moved the Vikings down the field quickly to the Plainfield 37.
After an incomplete pass, Ryan Saxe was able to break free on a quarterback draw. The junior was able to spin and contort his way for an amazing touchdown run, with at least three Plainfield defenders failing to bring him down before he scored with just 10.2 seconds left in the half to make it 13-0.
"I saw the opening by running and following my good blocks up front," said Saxe, who would rush for 112 yards on 11 carries. "In my mind, I was trying to get down, but I just spun back and saw the open field and took off for the end zone."
Fremd came out of the locker room in the second half and drove for an insurance touchdown. Ryan Saxe threw an 18-yard strike to Ryan Palmer to make it 19-0. Saxe, who was 14-of-25 for 176 yards, set up the touchdown by completing a 41-yard flea-flicker to his brother Andrew.
Plainfield had one scoring opportunity. But the Tigers, who drove to the Fremd 6, threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Fremd's Walsh, who plays both offensive and defensive line for the Vikings said that his team was ready on both sides of the ball.
"Offensively, I really thought we really controlled the line," Walsh said. "We had a couple of inside zone plays that broke free and that opened up the gates for everything. Defensively, we looked to contain number 4 (Moore). They liked to run a lot of jet sweeps with him and we stayed good on the edges."