Eric the Great: Frees has done a number on Western Maryland foes

November 15, 1991|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Evening Sun Staff

WESTMINSTER -- By the numbers, Eric Frees' accomplishments on a football field border on the sensational.

In 39 games at Western Maryland College, Frees has become the most productive player in the history of NCAA Division III, racking up 6,622 all-purpose yards. He has 5,076 yards rushing, the second-best total ever in Division III behind only Plymouth State's Joe Dudek, a Sports Illustrated cover boy in 1985.

Frees has set dozens of Green Terror and Centennial Football Conference records, and done so with a flair for the dramatic. He's from Ephrata, Pa., and a year ago in nearby Lancaster he rushed for 240 yards before family and friends in a satisfying rout of Franklin & Marshall. On Sept. 21, when Western Maryland won at rival Gettysburg for the first time since 1951, Frees had 198 yards.

There is still history to be written, however, and Frees will get one last chance to alter the record book tomorrow (1:30 p.m.), when Johns Hopkins (5-3-1) comes to Bair Stadium looking for its ninth straight victory over Western Maryland (4-5). Frees -- who rushed for 273 yards in a loss at Hopkins last year -- and a few other seniors do not want to leave here without at least one victory over the Blue Jays.

"One of my goals was to win a CFC title, and that's not going to happen," Frees said. "We've also never beaten Hopkins. We've lost some close games to them, and we've lost some close ones this season. A win over Hopkins would take a lot of frustration away."

With 1,340 yards and 13 touchdowns on 256 carries, Frees is having another great season, but the Green Terrors are struggling. Severalnew offensive linemen and a first-year quarterback didn't stop Western Maryland from getting off to a 4-1 start, but it since has lost four straight by a total of 12 points, annoying coach Dale Sprague and everyone in the program.

"It's nice to get the [Division III] all-purpose record, but I don't dwell on statistics," Frees said. "I do dwell on wins. I thought we turned the corner last year [a 6-3-1 record was the school's best since 1979], but we were overwhelmed in games we should have won. We lost our season opener by one point, and we could be 9-0 right now. That hurts."

Frees was on several All-America teams last year and his career accomplishments will boost his 1991 argument, but he's never received the recognition that comes with postseason play. At 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds, Frees knows he isn't going to play in the NFL, but it doesn't sound like his career will be over following Western Maryland's historic game in Moscow next March 17.

"The guy's a football player all the way," said Gettysburg coach Barry Streeter, who saw Frees gain 654 yards and six touchdowns in four games against his Bullets. "He's got great instincts and balance, he understands blocking schemes and reacts well. I don't feel badly about him gaining so much against us. He's got a mess of yardage against everybody."

NCAA career all-purpose yards

H

* Rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns

1. Johnny Bailey, Texas A&I (Div. II) 7,803

Kenny Gamble, Colgate (I-AA) 7,623

3. Howard Stevens, Randolph-Macon (II) and Louisville (1-A) 7,564

4. Napoleon McCallum, Navy (I-A) 7,172

5. Darrin Nelson, Stanford (I-A) 6,885

6. Steve Roberts, Butler (II) 6,674

7. ERIC FREES, WESTERN MARYLAND (III) 6,622

8. Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh (I-A) 6,615

9. Paul Palmer, Temple (I-A) 6,609

10. Charles White, USC (I-A) 6,545

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