By Dave Hart

FREMONT – The culture is certainly changing towards the good for the Fremont football team since Coach Jared Hudson took over last season.

The Packers won four games in 2022, which was the most in a season since winning four back in 2014.

Fremont achieved something else on Friday night which has also not been done in quite a while.

The Packers managed to not allow their opponent to score as they blanked Grant 20-0 at home to improve to 2-2 on the season.

It was the first shutout victory for Fremont since October of 2014 when they shut down Ludington by a 28-0 margin.

The Packers will look to win their first league game of the season next week when they host an always-tough Oakridge squad.

“This is my second year here and it is our first shutout, and we are pretty pumped up about that,” Hudson said after the win. “This is a big deal for us, and I am super proud of our guys. It was fun to watch.”

The Packers managed to win the game without the services of their leading rusher Asa Barnhard, who was out with some nagging injuries.

“He is a little banged up and we are trying to mend his injuries,” Hudson said. “We had some guys that had to step up like they should in the middle of a football season, and they were able to do that.

“I personally have a lot at stake here because I am from Fremont,” Hudson said. “I live two blocks from the football field, and it gives the kids some stability and that helps them believe in a positive culture change.”

Fremont had other players step up as three different guys scored touchdowns, including last season’s quarterback Kyler Dekuiper who went 3-1 last season behind center before moving to the running back position.

“We are trying to change the culture here and get everybody working together here,” Kyler DeKuiper said. “It is going to be fun playing against some tougher competition as we move forward … and you can feel the positive vibe.”

Grant opened the game by fumbling the ball on the first play from scrimmage. The Packers took over on the Grant 33-yard line and scored on the sixth play of the drive. DeKuiper scored on a 3-yard run from the wildcat formation to give the Packers a 7-0 lead with 9:54 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers turned the ball over again on their second possession on an interception to give the Packers excellent field possession again.

Fremont looked like it was going to increase its lead after a 43-yard run by Khai Noordyk, but the play was erased on a penalty and the Packers were forced to punt on their second drive.

The Packer defense forced a three-and-out, then scored on a 60-yard drive that took 13 plays. Noordyk found the end zone on a 12-yard run with 7:57 left in the second quarter to give the Packers a 13-0 lead.

Grant was forced to punt again on its next possession, but got the ball right back three plays later after a fumble by the Packers.

The Tigers drove the ball near the red zone, but turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on a fourth-down and seven.

Fremont led 13-0 at halftime and had 138 total yards of offense compared to the Tigers, who only had 17 yards.

The Packers fumbled the ball on their first play of the second half, but Grant only managed to drive the ball to the Fremont 25-yard line before again turning the ball over on downs.

The trend of turning the ball over on downs continued for both Fremont and the Tigers on each of the following possessions.

The Packers added another score on their final possession of the third quarter after going 50 yards on eight plays. Owen Hertel scored from seven yards out with 1:11 remaining in the third stanza to increase the Packers advantage to a 20-0 lead.

Grant was forced to punt the ball on its final offensive possession with 10:57 remaining in the contest. The Packers managed to melt the final 11 minutes of the contest, going 58 yards on 22 snaps to complete the shutout win.

Hertel led the Fremont offense with 82 rushing yards on seven attempts and one touchdown, while Karter Frens added 69 yards on 11 carries.

Noordyk chipped in 61 yards on the ground on 16 carries and a touchdown and quarterback Talen Reichert-Slater was 11-for-18 passing for 68 yards.

The Packers were paced defensively by Connor Pettis (11 tackles), Trentyn Corley (6 tackles), Hertel (5 tackles) and Levi Wimmer (4 tackles). 

Fremont hosts Oakridge next week while Grant hosts Newaygo.