FREEPORT — For the first time since mid-August, the Freeport Bulldogs are set to host a football game.
Coach Shaun Arntz and Co. are practically giddy, spending time on the mowers this week to make sure the field is in pristine condition and the lines painted so perfectly Michelangelo would be impressed.
And after three straight road contests to open the season — all victories — who could judge them for their enthusiasm?
“We’re excited and ready to play at home for a change,” Arntz told the Daily News.
After three weeks, the Bulldogs are 3-0. It’s their best start of the MaxPreps era, each victory coming against a quality opponent.
Maclay finished 10-1 a year ago. Freeport beat the Marauders 42-36 in overtime.
Holmes County had topped the Bulldogs in three straight seasons. Freeport beat the Blue Devils 19-7.
And Pike Liberal Arts (AL) came to The Port a year ago and thrashed the Bulldogs 41-28. Freeport beat the Patriots, too, 43-28 this past Friday.
Each of those opponents, though, pales in comparison to county rival Walton, who comes to Freeport at 7 p.m. Friday amid a resurgent campaign.
“Any time you get that county rivalry going, that definitely gets the blood pumping,” Arntz said. “Our boys are excited about it but we’re not focusing too much on the opponent.”
Instead, Arntz wants his Bulldogs to focus on the game plan. Walton is too talented to let unbridled enthusiasm get in the way of executing plays.
After winning just a single game and scoring just 45 total points a year ago, the Braves are 2-1 and brandish an offense that averages 36.7 points per game. Even in a loss to Arnold this past Friday, Walton scored 34 points; quarterback Landon Rogers scored twice on the ground, while running back Jamir Campbell tallied 14 carries for 104 yards and touchdown.
“They look way more together and confident is what it is and, obviously, faster,” Arntz said. “I know coach (Bobby) Moore, and I know he’s a tremendous coach and he’s been doing it a long time.
“He’s got those guys heading in the right direction.”
Likewise, Moore had high praise Freeport, the longtime area coach keeping tabs on his cross-county rival.
“They’re playing well, and they look well coached on film,” Moore said. “They do some good things on both sides of the ball and their kids play hard and they’re making plays.
“They’ve had good start.”
Chief among the Braves’ concerns Friday is Brandon Siples. Freeport’s senior running back has been nothing short of outstanding through three weeks, totaling 660 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns.
“Brandon’s having a good year,” Moore said. “He’s a good running back, and they’re using him out of the backfield, catching the ball, this, that and the other.
“You always gotta go in looking to try to stop him.”