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Freeport Loss Doesn't Sour Albert's Return
By Bob Orkwis

You could hardly tell by the excitement in Sam Albert's eyes that his team had just lost its season opener by 34 points.

Freeport fell to Ft. Cherry, 49-15, but the game officially marked Albert's return to coaching after a three-year absence. " I was real excited to be back on the sidelines. It's great to be back with this coaching staff because we have a great bunch of kids," Albert stated.

Albert had previous head coaching experience at Valley and Butler high schools, but did not coach for the past three seasons. "You know, I didn't realize how much I missed coaching until I got out of it." He took over a Freeport team that qualified for the playoffs last year, but returned only three starters for this season. Albert pointed to that inexperience as one of the factors in the Yellow Jackets opening loss. "We started the game with three incompletions that were dropped balls. That's a sure sign of being young."

Ft. Cherry, the number one team in the NSN WPIAL Single A Football Pool, took advantage of Freeport's early game jitters to score touchdowns on six consecutive possessions. Albert wasn't too discouraged, choosing to look at his team's positives. "We're not looking at the score. We lost to a very good football team. But this is only an exhibition game and I saw some great things from our kids. We're learning each week."

One of the great things Freeport saw was the play of senior quarterback Brandon Farster. Even though he was victimized by the early dropped passes, the 6-3, 185lb Farster ended up with six completions and 114 yards passing. Freeport's original game plan was to split time between Farster and junior Bobby Woods, but Farster's play kept him at the helm for the entire second half. He even threw a touchdown pass to Woods in the fourth quarter for Freeport's final tally. Albert said that he would have to look at the game film, but he was leaning towards naming Fartser as the starting quarterback, so he could utilize Woods' athletic ability at wideout and possibly elsewhere in the offensive backfield.

Albert says his charges will take the same approach in week two's match up versus Jeannette. "Everybody knows how I feel about these games, they're still exhibition games. Our goal is to try and get better each week." Last season, the Yellow Jackets dropped it's first two games, but finished 5-2 in the Allegheny Conference, which was good enough to earn a Double A playoff berth.

Albert is trying to instill a positive attitude and approach with his players. The ultimate early season goal for Freeport is preparing for Allegheny Conference opponents. "Conference play is what it's about. It's where you finish at the end of the year that counts." Even though it's been three years since he had coached a high school football game, Albert still brings a positive and energetic approach to the sidelines.

And even though Freeport took one on the chin in the season's opening week, if the young Yellow Jacket squad is able to mirror the enthusiastic approach taken by their head coach Sam Albert, you could expect a lot of success from Freeport during the remainder 1999 football season.