Football loses to Conant in battle of undefeated foes


Quaterback Tommy Josten organizes Fremd's offense against Conant.

Scott Lenz, Lead Sports Editor

In their first MSL-West game this season, Fremd was unable to overcome Conant’s stiff defense and strong running game. The Cougars edged the Vikings 27-16 on Sept. 25 in this battle of undefeated teams. Fremd’s two-headed rushing attack of seniors Charlie Kaye and Kenney Lyke continued to support the Vikings offense, but a distinct lack of explosive plays kept the team chasing Conant for much of the competition.

Fremd’s defense started the match by stifling Conant’s offense, holding them to a three and out on the first drive of the game. Senior defensive tackle Will Pankratz emphasizes the importance of establishing defensive control right off the bat.

“Getting a stop right away really gave the defense confidence and put the momentum of the game in our favor right away,” Pankratz said. “Any defensive stop is huge but it is even more important to get those stops at the beginning of the game.”

Junior quarterback Tommy Josten proceeded to lead Fremd down the field for the first score of the night, a 22 yard touchdown run by Lyke. Josten highlights the competitive advantage of having two strong running backs in the backfield.

“It helps it a lot because it makes everything easier for me, the receivers, and the offensive line having two guys back there who can make plays at any time,” Josten said.

Conant responded to the Vikings dominance with a four minute touchdown drive, relying heavily upon quarterback designed runs. Head coach Lou Sponsel understands that Fremd must focus on their defensive fundamentals going forward.

“We had guys in places to make plays and we just did not make the plays,” Sponsel said. “We had a lot of missed tackles and we gave up almost 470 yards of offense.”

In the second and third quarters, Fremd’s defense kept the Cougars out of the end zone, holding them to three field goals. Pankratz focuses on the impact of defensive stops on the mentality of the whole team.

“It was huge to keep them only to field goals instead of touchdowns because it kept us in the game the whole time and gave our offense confidence when they went back out on the field,” Pankratz said. “Our defense stepped up big in the red zone and gave the Conant offense everything we had to hold them to field goals.”

After looking strong on their initial drive, the Vikings stalled offensively. Miscues plagued the offense including a fumble and a missed field goal. They entered the fourth quarter Dionne 16-14, after a five-yard touchdown run by Kaye at the end of the third. Sponsel describes the challenges of playing from behind for a large part of the game.

“In big games it’s not so much who can put up the most points, but it’s who can stay level. It’s who can play better defense, who’s not going to let their emotions get to them,” Sponsel said. “We’ve got to stay composed, not flinch, and hang in there to play good solid football for 48 minutes.”

Going into their homecoming game versus cross-town rival Palatine, Fremd must address the issues that kept the team from beating Conant. Josten details the improvements that the Vikings must make to keep their offense moving against tough conference opponents.

“We can learn that we have to take advantage of every opportunity they give us. We got stopped on the goal line and that really killed us,” Josten said. “Also we got stopped a couple times within the Conant forty and that came back to bite us.”

Fremd will face Palatine at home on Oct. 2, looking for their first MSL-West victory of the season.