GCMS football improves to 3-0 with win over El Paso-Gridley

EL PASO -- Jared Trantina scored in both of the Falcons first two games this season. But, it wasn’t until Friday’s 45-18 win at El Paso-Gridley that he broke out to become the change-of-pace complement to senior Mitch McNutt that defenses have to gameplan against.
 
Trantina toted the ball a dozen times for 57 yards and three touchdowns. On top of filling the stat sheet, the junior fullback executed a kick-out block to spring McNutt on one of his two scores and added seven tackles and an interception while playing linebacker on defense.
 
“I was so impressed with Jared’s blocking tonight,” GCMS coach Mike Allen said. “On the goalline, we ran (off tackle), and he laid the hit that opened up the big hole for Mitchell. And, he had a heck of a game running the ball, and on defense he had a great game. He just had a tremendous game for us tonight.”
 
McNutt eclipsed the century-mark for the third-straight week to start the season, running 18 times for 121 yards. Though, during the second half, the senior was held to negative yardage on only three attempts.
 
Typically when a team holds a large advantage at halftime, that team will turn to its running game to quickly close out a game. Despite holding a 31-12 halftime advantage, the Falcons lack of a consistent running game in the second half led to more passing opportunities for junior Nathan Garard.
 
After throwing his first interception of the season during the second quarter, Garard bounced back to complete 3 of 3 passes in the third, including a 24-yard touchdown to classmate Ryland Holt.
 
“You just have to keep your head up,” Garard said. “Coach says I’ve got to make better decisions and to go back in there and have the mentality that you can do it.”
 
Holt, 6-4, has now caught touchdown passes in consecutive games. In all, Garard completed passes to five receivers, spreading the ball between receivers (Holt and Lane Short), tight end (Bryce Barnes), and both wing backs (McNutt and Brooks Schmitt).
 
“Having (Holt), Josh Bleich, Bryce Barnes, and Lane Short, they all have some height on them,” Garard said. “That’s a huge source of confidence. In past years, we had some tall guys, but to have a whole collection of them, it adds to my confidence.”
 
The quarterback isn’t the only player on the team to increase the level of trust himself despite an early miscues. Junior kicker Ben Freehill, who missed two extra-points in the season opener, has since converted 12 of 12.
 
“It was just mental really,” Freehill said. “Coming out, I think I was a little too hyped up, to be honest. I just got kind of calm, and my line, snapper, and holder just do a great job. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do.”
 
In addition to the perfection on point-after-touchdowns, Freehill blasted a 50-yard field goal in the final seconds of Friday’s first half, setting a school record. The Falcons were leading by two touchdowns at the time, but the lopsided score did not relieve any pressure for the kicker.
 
“It doesn’t really matter,” Freehill said, “there’s always pressure.”
 
Allen said his confidence in Freehill has yet to falter, and after Friday’s performance, he said he is always ready to send out the kicker if the offense is stalled in field-goal range.
 
“We have confidence in Ben all of the time,” Allen said. “He’s a heck of a kicker, and he works his fanny off to get better at that skill. To kick a 50-yard field goal in a high school game, that helps him not only with recruiting and everything, but it helps our team. It gives us another weapon.
 
“When he came off of the field, you could tell he has confidence now that you can’t take away.”
 
GCMS stays on the road at LeRoy this week before returning home for back-to-back games against Eureka and Tremont to wrap up September’s portion of the schedule.
 
GCMS 45, EPG 18
G 14 17 14 0 --45
E 6 6 6 0 --18
Scoring Summary
G -- Trantina 9 run (B. Freehill kick)
E -- Faulk 72 pass from Landrus (conversion failed)
G -- McNutt 9 run (B. Freehill kick)
G -- McNutt 4 run (B. Freehill kick)
G -- Trantina 9 run (B. Freehill kick)
E -- Faulk 80 run (conversion failed)
G -- B. Freehill 50 field goal
G -- Trantina 3 run (B. Freehill kick)
E -- Landrus 1 run (conversion failed)
G -- Holt 24 pass from Garard (B. Freehill kick)
Individual Statistics
RUSHING -- GCMS: McNutt 18-121, Trantina 12-57, Livingston 4-20, Elliott 4-(-3), Garard 3-40, Schmitt 2-30, Jones 2-24, Keane 2-0, Dunham 1-2, Harden 1-2. Totals 49-293. EPG: Faulk 15-173. Totals 20-176. 
PASSING -- GCMS: Garard 8-12-92-1-1. EPG: Landrus 13-27-175-1-2. 
RECEIVING -- GCMS: Holt 3-39, Short 2-11, Schmitt 1-20, Barnes 1-13, McNutt 1-9. Totals 8-92.
TACKLES -- L. Freehill 7, Trantina 7, Barnes 6, Short 6.
INTERCEPTIONS -- GCMS: Trantina, Spiller. EPG: Kiefer.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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