The magical undefeated season for the Fitch football team has finally come to an end.
Fitch was edged 34-28 at Uniontown Lake on Oct. 22 in a thrilling double overtime affair to fall to 8-1. Although the game may have been exhilarating for the large crowd in Uniontown to watch, it was gut-wrenching for the local kids to lose.
“It was a tough loss,” said a somber Fitch head coach Phil Annarella. “All of our kids fought until the end. We are proud of them.”
True to coach Annarella’s words, his Falcons did fight until the final play of the game. Unfortunately this great game did not conclude without a little bit of controversy. With Fitch trailing by six in the second overtime, quarterback Demitrious Davis was ruled inches short of a touchdown on a fourth-down run that would have tied the game and potentially have won it for the Falcons. The officials ruled that Davis’ chest, not the ball, crossed the plane of the goal resulting in a stop for the Lake defense. Not only was that call sketchy, but the home team was also awarded two personal foul penalties that kept their second overtime drive alive. That drive would subsequently end with the go-ahead score. In the first extra frame, Fitch blocked a game-winning field goal try by Lake and was ready to return it for a score. The rule, however, is that an overtime blocked kick cannot be advanced. It may have been a week before Halloween, but there were some spooky events after regulation that put an end to the Falcons’ long winning streak. A coupled days after the game, Annarella was not in the mood to discuss any of those tricks.
“It all doesn’t matter at this point,” said the coach disgustedly on Sunday night. “There is no sense in rehashing any of it. It wasn’t meant to be. We have put all of the wins behind us (immediately after those games), now we must put this loss behind us.”
One thing that Annarella will not want to push aside is the incredible play of his junior quarterback. Davis was a one-man wrecking crew at Lake rushing for 165 yards and all four of his team’s touchdowns. He also completed half of his pass attempts, although he did throw a costly interception to stop the Falcons’ first scoring chance in the initial overtime. Despite that errant pass, coach Annarella was amazed at how well Davis did last Friday.
“He had a great game,” the coach gushed. “He’s been doing it all year, but he was special (against Lake).”
While Davis’ play may have been deemed special by the coach, hopefully these Falcons do not have to see a specialist to get over the emotions of losing their first game in such a cruel fashion. Annarella likes the fact that his boys were brooding after the loss and will attempt to turn that sadness into an advantage this week.
“The kids are pretty down,” he lamented. “That’s good. (Losing) should hurt. They should care. Hopefully the kids are good mentally in practice. We have to get ready for Boardman.”
Boardman week in Austintown is usually one of great pep and anticipation. This year’s contest, however, has extra special significance due to the fact that the Falcons can win the Federal League championship if they beat their crosstown rival. A victory this Friday may also pay other dividends.
“We still win the league outright with a win,” said Annarella. “If we lose we share it with some other teams. We can also possibly get a home (playoff) game with a win. So this game is pretty motivating.”
Just lining up against the Spartans is pretty motivating to begin with. Boardman is coming off a demoralizing loss at home to Canton McKinley a week ago that ended their hope of a solo Federal League title. In order to give the Spartans their second straight setback, the Falcons must be cognizant of Boardman’s big time throwing game.
“(Boardman) has a great passing attack,” said Annarella. “(Dayne) Hammond and (Trae) Robinson are fantastic receivers. Robinson also does a nice job at quarterback. We know we will have our hands full stopping their offense.”
If Annarella’s troops do find a way to stop the Spartans, then their hands will be full holding the Federal League championship trophy.