Football: Freedom-Woodbridge works its way toward challenging Battlefield


“It’s definitely not the Freedom team of old, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they’re doing there,” said Battlefield Coach Mark Cox, center, of Freedom-Woodbridge. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
September 11, 2013

Battlefield and Freedom-Woodbridge first opened their doors on the same day in 2004.

But that’s where the similarities between the schools end — at least where football is concerned.

When Battlefield (1-1) won the Div. 6 state title in 2010, the Eagles were busy going 1-9. In fact, the team has never won more than four games in a season.

But those were your older brother’s Eagles.

Heading into Thursday’s matchup with the Bobcats, Freedom is undefeated — 2-0 — after back-to-back victories over Osbourn Park and Osbourn.

Bishop McNamara's lineman dominates the trenches in memory of his grandfather. (Nathan Bickell for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“It’s definitely not the Freedom team of old, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they’re doing there,” Battlefield Coach Mark Cox said.

All that senior running back Mike Gibson has done is shoulder the brunt of Freedom’s offense. Gibson rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ season-opener victory at Osbourn Park. He added a workmanlike output of 66 yards on 24 carries against Osbourn Friday.

“It seems like we have a better bond with each other,” Gibson said, comparing this year’s iteration to other Freedom teams. “Whenever we’re on the field, everybody’s trying to compete and get better. In school, we all chill together and talk to each other.”

The onus — explains Gibson — is on the players. The guys wearing the pads were responsible when things were grim, and they deserve credit now.

“In the years before, there haven’t been players who were really committed to what Coach G. [Gary Wortham Jr.] was saying,” Gibson said. “They didn’t really believe in him. But it seems like our team now, everybody is just focused on trying to win. “

In Wortham’s fourth season at the helm, players are buying in.

“He’s always brought the same mentality to his program,” said Gibson, “but we’re starting to do what he’s asking.”

Cox is asking his offense to go back to basics after it was shutout completely in a 7-0 loss to Forest Park (2-0) last week.

“[We’ll run] plays that we’ve been running for years, that we’ve been successful with,” Cox said. “I think we were doing too much and not being good enough at one or two things.”

At Freedom, success is two games young. But it’s catching on.

“We’re not saying we’re good,” Wortham said. “We’re just trying to improve week after week.”

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