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Laib leads Freeman to State 1A playoffs

You have to hand it to Freeman running back Max Laib.

When it mattered most, the Scotties did just that en route to a 35-14 win over Cascade (Leavenworth) in a 1A crossover playoff game on a chilly Friday night in Freeman.

With Freeman clinging to a seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and with its passing game stymied, the senior led the Scotties on a game-clinching, 61-yard scoring drive.

The last yard – on fourth-and-goal – was the toughest. Met by half the Cascade defense, Laib stretched the ball across the goal just before his knees hit the ground.

“I was just thinking it was do or die, so I kept pumping my legs and I knew where that goal line was,” said Laib, who finished with 243 yards on 31 carries.

The main goal – a spot in the 1A playoffs – was realized mostly through a tough defense against Cascade’s wing-T offense. The visitors were held to 84 total yards in the first half. While Freeman fared little better – going 0-for-10 passing in the first half, with two interceptions – the Scotties took a 14-0 lead on two touchdown runs from Laib.

“Max did really well tonight, and he carried us on his shoulders for almost four quarters” said Freeman coach Jim Wood, whose 10-0 team will face either Cle Elum or River View of Kennewick in a first-round playoff game next week in the Spokane area.

His first touchdown, a 2-yarder, capped one long drive, and the second, a 49-yarder, was the Scotties’ second scoring drive.

Cascade, which finished 5-5, made things interesting in the third quarter. Kodiaks running back Noah Wood dashed 85 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-6.

Freeman running back Markus Goldbach, who added 115 yards on 15 carries, made his biggest contribution on special teams, taking the ensuing kickoff back 81 yards for a score.

That made it 21-6, but order was only briefly restored. After forcing a punt, the Scotties moved downfield, only to have Preston Hoppman’s pass returned 61 yards for a score by Dennis Merritt.

“We had a few guys open but we just couldn’t hit them, so we went to the power game in the second half, and started getting chunks here and there,” Wood said. … “The big thing is we got the win, and we can always go back to practice and fix a few things.”