So it was only natural that they were stopped.
Swan Valley, however, came up with one more stop than Freeland, walking away with a 14-7 win, first place in the TVC Central, the King of the Mountain trophy and a more secure hold on the Division 4 No. 1 Associated Press ranking.
Combined, the teams averaged 99 points per game through the first five games of the season. Swan Valley entered the game ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 4, while Freeland was ranked fifth in Division 5.
“I expected it to be a defensive battle,” Freeland coach Kevin Townsend said. “These are two of the most physical teams you’re going to see. You knew there wasn’t going to be anything easy.”
Swan Valley star tailback Alex Grace did make a difference, scoring two touchdowns and running for 261 yards of Swan Valley’s 319 yards of total offense.
But the Swan Valley defense made a bigger defense.
“You always hear about the guys scoring touchdowns or gaining yards or getting the interceptions,” Swan Valley coach Ken Bourbina said. “But our defense was outstanding. The defensive line played great. And when Freeland completed passes, we had guys there to make the tackle.”
There were a few tackles that stood out more than others.
Freeland scored the first points of the game, capitalizing on an interception by Ryan Schauman. It took Freeland 14 plays to cover 38 yards, but the Falcons did it to score on a 1-yard Jarrett Riffel run. Grace answered with a 60-yard run to tie the game at halftime.
Freeland took the opening kickoff 70 yards, but on fourth-and-2 from the Swan Valley 10-yard line, the Vikings defense stoned the Falcons’ run for non gain. Ninety yards later, Grace ran for a 2-yard TD for the 14-7 lead.
On Freeland’s next possession, the Falcons were faced with fourth-and-4, but an incomplete pass ended the drive.
After Freeland’s defense held on fourth-and-1, stopping Grace for no gain, Swan Valley had one more stop left.
Freeland drove to the Swan Valley 8-yard line, but faced fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter. The Falcons’ Jake Jankoska got the first down, running to the 2-yard line. But before he went down, Swan Valley’s Isaiah Berden knocked the ball loose, and teammate Brock Notter fell on it.
Nate Neuenfeldt sealed the game with an interception to end Freeland’s final drive.
“This has got to be up there for one of our biggest wins because Freeland is such a great team,” Bourbina said. “To hold them to seven points was a great effort.
“It takes a lot of discipline to play great defense against Freeland because they’re one of the few T-formation teams you’re going to see. Years ago, everybody ran the T, but now Freeland’s one of the few teams that does it. Everybody has to be disciplined in their assignments. For the most part, we did that.”