ROCKFORD - The full moon that lingered over the Freeman High School football field last Friday night may have provided the perfect backdrop for an early-October Northeast A League showdown.
Unfortunately for the Colville Crimson Hawks, there was no luck harvested from the extra light.
Six Hawk turnovers - two first-half interceptions in the red zone and an additional pick returned for a touchdown late in the second quarter - squashed any and all chances for the visitors in a 43-21 defeat to Freeman on the Scotties’ homecoming night.
The loss ended Colville’s five-game winning streak to start the season and unseated it from the top of the league standings. The Crimson Hawks (3-1 NEA, 5-1 overall) host Shadle Park tonight at 7 PM in their annual homecoming game.
“You cannot turn the ball over as many times as we did against a quality opponent and expect to win,” Head Coach Greg Mace said this week. “I would like to say that this is an anomaly, however, I do not know that it is unless we make some changes in the way that we approach offensive series.
“We have to make great decisions with the football and take what the defense gives us. We have to learn that not every play is going to be a touchdown, and we will have to sustain long drives to be successful going forward.”
Freeman’s Boen Phelps was a challenge all night for Colville despite being the focus of the team’s preparations. As good as advertised - perhaps better - the senior dynamo at quarterback and linebacker caused havoc on both sides of the ball. Phelps would throw for 148 yards and two scores in the air while running for 100 yards on just eight carries, adding a pair of touchdowns on the ground. For good measure, he capped the scoring in the second quarter defensively, taking a lateral from teammate Sage Gilbert after Gilbert intercepted a Cale Roy pass and rambled 34 yards for the punctuation mark on a 28-7 halftime lead for the Scotties (2-1, 4-2).
It was the third time the Hawks have faced off with a Freeman-led Phelps offense, and the Scotties’ victory Friday night gave them the rubber match in those meetings. Colville prevailed 36-35 in the spring ‘21 season while Phelps got a measure of revenge in a 38-0 win last fall.
“Phelps is a big, fast and physical athlete. He throws the ball well, and runs it even better,” said Mace. “You always have to be concerned about him. We were able to get to him a little bit, but we were not able to get him to the ground like we wanted.
“That is the biggest issue with him - he is extremely hard to bring down.”
Tasked with the challenge of defending Phelps and the potent Freeman offense was the Blackshirt defense, a unit that up until that point had limited opponents to 11.9 points per game, including two shutouts. Sloppy tackling and blown coverage assignments - uncharacteristic of the group thus far in the campaign - reared their ugly head throughout the night. The 328 yards allowed were a season high, a mark that can be attributed to the level of competition but also for the fact the group was on the field extensively with the number of turnovers committed by the offense.
“The thing that disappointed me the most was the lack of rallying to the ball like we have seen all year,” Mace said. “There was more standing around and watching by our defense than the rest of our games combined. Our Blackshirts know that we expect more out of them. We also had some uncharacteristic penalties that extended drives when we had opportunities to get off the field defensively.”
Emmet Marshall continued to be a bright spot in what was a dim night. The senior middle linebacker had nine tackles (five solo) and had a breakout game offensively. Marshall scored the first touchdown for the Crimson Hawks in the second quarter on a pass from Roy and ended the game with career highs in both receptions (four) and yards receiving (104). Running back Hunter Gleave was also mentioned by Mace for his efforts on both sides of the ball against the Scotties.
“Emmet was solid catching the ball all night,” said Mace. “I feel that he is one of our more explosive offensive players and I mentioned last week that we would like to get him more involved in the offense. We were able to do that, which was nice to see.”
The schedule continues to stay sturdy with a visit from the Shadle Park Highlanders tonight. Shadle Park, the Greater Spokane League’s 2A division leader (5-1 overall), is on its own five-game winning streak. Highlighted by a trio of offensive weapons - quarterback Natreven Dickerson, running back Beckett Ensminger and wide receiver Jordan Dever - the Highlanders bring a high-powered offense to town and a defense that holds their opponents to 13 points per game.
“Shadle (Park) has some nice talent on both sides of the ball,” Mace said. “Defensively they do a nice job of taking away the vertical passing game. We will need to stay patient and work our short to intermediate pass game and pound the ground game.”
Looming after the Shadle Park game is matchup with NEA leader Lakeside. The Eagles (3-0, 6-0) play host to Medical Lake (0-3, 0-6) tonight in their warm-up before a trip to Colville next week.
“I still believe that this team can play with any top contender in this league,” Mace said. “Yes, we have things that we need to clean up and get right, but we will, and we will be better for it. There are many lessons to be learned by a loss.”
Watch online on the Colville NFHS Channel (link)
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Freeman 43, Colville 21
FRE - Ryan Delcour 24 pass from Boen Phelps (Nash McLean kick)
FRE - Kanoa Rogan 6 run (kick failed)
COL - Emmet Marshall 15 pass from Cale Roy (Johnathan Reeves kick)
FRE - Delcour 67 pass from Phelps (Phelps run)
FRE - Phelps lateral from Sage Gilbert 42 INT Return (McLean kick)
FRE - Phelps 2 run (kick blocked)
FRE - Safety, runner tackled in end zone
FRE - Delcour 5 run (McLean kick)
COL - Colbie McEvoy 11 pass from Roy (Reeves kick)
COL - Sam Mitchell 8 Fumble Return (Reeves kick)
Colville: Hunter Gleave 13-47, Allan McKeraghan 2-23, Isaiah Porter-Mills 5-22, Mason Beardsley 6-13, Sam Mitchell 2-4, Team 2-(minus) 8, Roy 4-(minus) 21
Freeman: Phelps 8-100, Rogan 15-79, Delcour 5-8, Luke Whitaker 1-6, Nathan Cochran 4-3, Team 3-(minus) 27
Colville: Roy 13-28-5-248
Freeman: Phelps 9-15-0-148; Whitaker 1-2-0-11; Logan Schultz 0-1-0-0
Colville: Marshall 4-104, McEvoy 3-53, Braden Dunham 1-53, McKeraghan 4-41, Gleave 1-(minus) 3
Freeman: Delcour 2-91, Gilbert 5-47, Whitaker 1-11, Reed Hicks 2-10