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Fremd recognized its rich tradition of football excellence by honoring its 26 greatest players and two most successful coaches before Friday night's game at Hale Hildebrandt Field in Palatine.
And the current Vikings realized they were playing for more than themselves in their Mid-Suburban League crossover with Prospect.
"We met with them before the game," said Fremd senior offensive lineman Nick Loden, "and it reminded everybody we're representing 50 years of Fremd football."
They represented in traditional fashion in the second half. With defense as stifling as the heat and humidity. With an offense that took control up front.
And the battle of tradition-rich programs saw Fremd (1-1) score its first two touchdowns of the season after intermission and hold on for a 14-7 victory.
"It seemed like we came out with more fire and that was the difference from the first half," said junior Greg Money, who sealed the victory with an interception with 1:47 to play.
The Vikings needed a spark after misfiring in a first half where they trailed 7-0 and were outgained 189-81 in total yards by Prospect (0-2).
"We talked at halftime and we let them hang in the game," said Fremd coach Mike Donatucci. "We were off. We'd have three good plays and boom -"
Then a nice drive to start the second half came to a halt on a leaping interception by Nick Meersman at the Prospect 27. But the Fremd defense delivered in traditional fashion with three straight stops for no gain the last two by Ben Dworkin and Mark Hand.
"We figured out what they were trying to do and we just stepped up," Money said.
Money also stepped in to the backfield to help get Fremd going offensively. Sophomore Sam Beutler (9-for-16, 127 yards) hit three straight passes to Josh Jyawook and Money and Beutler's 1-yard sneak tied it at 7-7.
"We were more physical," Donatucci said. "Money in the backfield makes us more physical. Our offensive line was definitely more aggressive, especially in the second half."
After another three-and-out, Matt Konopka's big block sprang Matt Isola for a 22-yard punt return to the Prospect 41. The front-line crew of Loden, Dworkin, James Burke, Brad Ruehrdanz and Ray Tarallo led a nine-play march where Fremd converted three third downs the last on a 6-yard touchdown run by A.J. McGhee (25 carries, 110 yards) with 11:54 to play.
And solid performances by Keith Browning, Jack Bossong, Ryan Barr and Jeff McGlade helped Fremd's young defense allow only 73 second-half yards.
"It's just so much of a pickup when our defense does well," Loden said. "Field position this week from last week (35-3 loss to Lake Zurich) was a huge difference."
Prospect's defense also hung tough after it scored its only touchdown when quarterback Sam Frasco (20 carries, 87 yards) capped an 80-yard drive with a 4-yard run 8:58 before halftime. Devin O'Hara had a leaping first-quarter interception in the end zone and sophomore running back Sam Mazukelli rushed for 79 yards.
The effort typified a program that won the first of its three state titles 10 years ago.
"I couldn't be more proud of the fight and attitude of this football team," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "Our kids fought their butts off. They never stopped and they never quit and that's been this football program's tradition for years.
"We'll learn from it and get better. Fremd did a very nice job of coming back and winning that football game."