For 40 years people in Austintown did not need a calendar to know that the beginning of the school year was upon them.
All these residents had to do was look to the football field to witness their beloved Fitch Falcons knocking heads with West Side rival Chaney and they knew the sight of freshmen roaming aimlessly through the hallowed Fitch halls was right around the corner.
The Falcons and the Cowboys battled it out again last Friday in Austintown, but this 2010 edition of the longtime series would most likely be the last. Thanks to the result of that game, the Falcons probably wish their border brother would sign on to play a few more years. Fitch’s offense hit Chaney with the ferocity of a Kimbo Slice punch pummeling the Cowboys, 58-7 in the season opener for both schools.
Just two minutes into the new campaign, Fitch’s Chris Davis scored on a 12-yard run and added a two-point conversion to stake the Falcons to an early lead. Thirty seconds before halftime, Chris’ twin brother Demitrious dashed in from eight yards away. In between, the Falcons scored on two other touchdown runs, a touchdown catch, an interception return and a safety to build an insurmountable 44-0 lead at intermission.
“We executed our game plan pretty well,” said Fitch head coach Phil Annarella in an understatement. “We showed consistency on offense.”
That consistency was important in a game where Annarella’s starters only saw about a quarter’s worth of serious action. The coach attributed all of those points to his team’s mental preparation.
“We were in the right frame of mind,” said Annarella. “We came out with a good attitude. “
Demitrious Davis applied an attitude adjustment to the Chaney defense with 97 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The junior also threw for 80 yards including a 22-yard touchdown pass to fellow junior Nick Williams that gave the Falcons a 29-0 lead after one quarter.
Junior Larry Vines scored on a five-yard touchdown run and totaled 46 yards rushing. Shane Stevens had a touchdown run. Chris Davis would add 36 yards receiving to his touchdown run.
Junior Will Mahone is another of Annarella’s offensive weapons, but it was on defense and special teams where this future all star put a hurt on the team with stars on their helmets. Mahone scored the third touchdown of the game on a 20-yard interception return. He would also put the final dent in the scoreboard when he nimbly trotted 84 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return late in the fourth quarter.
While coach Annarella did all he could to keep his number one unit humming throughout the first game, it was inevitable that he was going to get his nonstarters more time than usual. With a much meatier opponent in Poland looming this Friday, that rest may have been a good thing.
“It was good to get the other kids in,” Annarella announced, “but we would have liked the starters to play longer. We were walking a fine line. We didn’t want to run up the score, but we did want our starters to stay in the game.”
It was unfortunate to Annarella that this possible last game ever between these two rivals ended in a 51 point blowout. The coach had nothing but positive things to say about the Chaney program.
“It was a good rivalry,” he said. “(Chaney head coach Jim Vivo) is doing things the right way over there. They are trying to rebound a great program. We are pulling for them.”
Annarella’s bunch may be pulling for the Cowboys, but they certainly are not rooting for the Bulldogs this week. Poland is 1-0 after defeating a very strong Hubbard outfit in week one. The fact that Poland’s appetizer for this week’s matchup with Fitch was a stronger squad than the Falcons played has Annarella concerned. Of course, Poland’s prolific players have Annarella staying up late this week too.
“(Poland) has great skill players,” Annarella says. “The (Darius) Patton kid is a great player and his brother (Dom) is no slouch either. They have a talented quarterback (Colin Reardon). Coach (Mark) Brungard is doing a great job over there.”
Don’t think that just because the Bulldogs are a Division III program it does not mean they can’t compete with a Division I competitor like the Falcons. In fact, coach Annarella believes this game will be unmatched once Federal League action starts in a few weeks.
“There will be more interest in this game than any Federal League game we will play this year,” says Annarella. “Their kids will be fired up to play us.”
For Fitch, one rivalry has gone away, but another huge one may be just around the corner.