No new era is easy. A new era at a Class 1A school? A lot harder.
Things continue to look on the uptick at Fremont under second year head coach Trevor Thomas with Friday’s 46-29 win over Blackford. After winning just three games last season, Fremont has started the 2022 campaign at 2-0, the program’s best start since 1997. Just days away from when that mark was set on August 29, 1997 at Southern Wells, Fremont again has a lot of momentum to ride.
“Starting out strong at this point of the season is everything,” Thomas said. “Really what we are focusing on more than the record is just getting better every day, making sure these kids know there is a big bright future ahead of us, we’ve just got to keep working and not get caught up…they say adversity is tough to battle through, but sometimes success is tough to battle through.”
Despite giving up 29 points to the Bruins, there were multiple defensive moments that really stood out for Fremont in their 46-29 win. The turning point in an early back and forth contest on Friday night was a Fremont-forced turnover. With 2:30 left in the first half, Gage Cope tipped a pass by Blackford quarterback Carson Smith that nicely landed in the open arms of Nevin Bloom. The two-way Eagle sophomore lineman then made his way 43 yards up the field. The turnover led to a Zak Pica nine yard rushing touchdown and a Pica to Brogan Blue two-point conversion. Despite the fact that Fremont was leading 16-15 before that turnover, the swing put the momentum almost forever in Fremont’s hands.
“You could see the tide shift, probably around that play. I was telling my assistant coach on the headset, when they walked off the field after that, you could see it in their eyes; they were hungry,” Thomas said. “In that moment, I knew this team wanted it more than I have seen in past years.”
Fremont had started the game with an 8-0 lead despite the fact Blackford looked early like the more physical force. Blackford moved the ball really well on the first drive, but fumbled it away. Pica then went over the top to Blue for the first touchdown, followed by the first of Cope’s three two-point conversions on the night.
Blackford answered with two straight scores and their only lead of the game at 14-8 before Pica again hooked up with a speedy Blue for a big passing play and one of those Cope two-point conversions gave Fremont the lead for good at 16-14. Blackford would score again before the half, but Fremont answered right out of the gate in the third with Pica finding Cope in the back right side of the end zone. The pair would connect for another touchdown less than six minutes later to extend their run to 30-7 after Blackford’s initial lead.
The Bruins answered again, but Fremont took chances down the stretch, showing the comfort that Thomas’ team has started to enjoy early in this season. With 9:10 left in the game and facing 4th and five on their own 36 yard line, Fremont drew another one of what was many offside calls against Blackford on the night, setting up a 4th and inches that Cope converted on the ground. Blackford though, always like a pest, still managed to force a turnover on downs the next series.
Thats when the defense held for Fremont in another of those big moments. Facing a 4th and 7 after another offsides, this time on the Blackford offense, the Eagle pass defense smothered the Bruins’ last hope. With 3:14 left, an incompletion forced a Blackford turnover on downs. On the ensuing possession, Fremont would add one one last clinching touchdown.
“I knew we had to keep putting the pressure on them,” Thomas said. “That was a battle, our defense had to battle. We struggled early stopping the run, we got beat on some play action passes but really buckling down there and holding strong in a critical situation of a game is huge for player development and this team.”
Pica finished throwing the ball for 259 yards, including 112 yards to Blue. Wyatt Claxton led the Fremont defense with six solo tackles and a sack. Fremont’s 78 points in the opening two weeks are the program’s most in a two-win stretch since they scored 81 in back to back weeks in 2012.