STADIUM: Freedom Stadium, 17410 Commerce Park Blvd., Tampa CLASS-DISTRICT: 7A-7 (with Gaither, Sickles, Steinbrenner, Tampa Bay Tech, and Wiregrass Ranch) COACH: Todd Donohoe (17-39, seventh season overall; 3-7, second season at Freedom) LAST SEASON: 3-7
DL Patchan making impact for Patriots
The younger brother of former Freedom and Armwood two-way lineman and All-American Matt Patchan, who signed with the University of Florida and now plays at Boston College, junior Scott Patchan is poised to be one of the top defensive linemen in the county this season.
As a sophomore, Patchan recorded 16 tackles with 2.5 sacks.
“He has quickness, he's tenacious and he's a lot like his brother,” said Freedom coach Todd Donohoe, who coached Matt Patchan at Armwood.
“He's a great competitor,” said senior offensive lineman Malik Robinson. “Not too many players in Hillsborough County with his ability and size coming off the end.”
Freedom returns four starters on the offensive line, including 6-foot-7, 270-pound right tackle Malik Robinson and 6-4, 255-pound left tackle Dillon Browne.
“We're well balanced,” Robinson said. “Me and Dillon have the height to protect the pass.”
Seniors Jason Canada and Josh Collazo return to lead a unit coach Donohoe feels will be the backbone of the defense. Canada, at 6-1, 220, finished with 34 tackles while Collazo added 46.
“We have speed and we're all pretty much tall,” Canada said. “Our strength is a big thing. I think the lowest one of our guys is benching is 355 pounds.”
Running behind those big offensive linemen will be senior Andre Folks and junior Calvin Bido-Vega. Folkes led the Patriots last season with 372 yards.
“They're fast as all get-out,” Canada said. “They're fast and the hit the hole.”
During last year's 3-7 season, Freedom was defeated by a total point margin of 258-131. Donohoe said that was partly due to the team's inability to defend the run and run the ball effectively.
“We have to run and stop the run,” he said. “That will be key to our success. We had three games last year where we didn't stop the run like we should.
Freedom has reached the playoffs twice in school history and has yet to record a playoff victory. Since 2009 when the team went 7-3, the Patriots have won no more than three games in a season.
“We'll definitely be better than last year,” Donohoe said.