It ended on Oct. 29, 2010 with a second league title thanks to Fitch’s 25-7 bouncing of archrival Boardman at Fitch Stadium. The Falcons will be flying out of the Federal in 2011, but in a nifty twist of irony, not before they got to hoist the championship trophy triumphantly in front of their home fans.
“Everyone thought we were satisfied when we clinched a playoff spot,” said Fitch head coach Phil Annarella from his school office, “but they were dead wrong. It was a big deal for us to win the Federal League. We set out to do that from the beginning of this season. We wanted to win the conference outright more than anything and not share the title.”
Annarella’s boys may not have wanted to share the championship, but they sure did share the spotlight last Friday night. Nobody stood out for the Falcons against the Spartans as the win was a total team effort. Fitch scored on both offense and defense and received a pair of field goals from their special teams unit. Will Mahone started the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. He would finish the night with more than 100 yards rushing. Bruce Reed started the second quarter for the Falcons with a 16-yard touchdown jaunt. Reed would end up with 72 yards on the ground. Kicker Ken Kilpatrick would hit the first of his two field goals from 24 yards out right before halftime which enabled the Falcons to carry a 15-0 lead into the locker room with them. Boardman would score its only touchdown of the game and the only one in the third quarter to cut the lead to 15-7. Kilpatrick picked up his second three-pointer early in the fourth from 33 yards away to extend the Falcons’ lead to 11 points. The Fitch defense would then enter the scorebook when senior leader Steve Zaborsky scooped up a Spartan fumble and stepped 10 yards into the end zone to salt away the Federal title.
Making things even harder on the home team was that it lost four players due to injury during the game. The most glaring injury was the one sustained by star starting quarterback Demitrious Davis. Demitrious was derailed in the second quarter after taking a harmful hit to his shoulder. Initial reports were that Davis separated his shoulder or broke his collarbone, but sources have confirmed that those early rumors detailing Davis’ demise were erroneous. Fitch’s quarterback will be going for further tests, but at press time, Annarella was hopeful that his junior would be ready to jump back into action this weekend.
“The doctors will be looking at him,” said Annarella, “but we are hoping that Demitrious can go (in Fitch’s first playoff game).”
Shane Stevens did a decent job in Davis’ stead completing half of his passes for 50 yards and managing the last two and a half quarters efficiently for the Falcons.
Also getting stung by the injury bug last week was starting center Chris Penson, his backup Josh Miller and linebacker Blake Otterson. Looks like there will be a long line of Falcon players at the infirmary this week.
“It was not a good night for us injury wise,” Annarella said dejectedly. “We lost our first team center, our second team center and Blake who plays a ton at linebacker. The doctors must look at everyone (before a decision can be made on any of the injured kids’ playing status).”
While the Falcons wait for the experts to make their calls they will not have to wait to find out who their opponent will be in round one of the Division I playoffs. Fourth-seeded Fitch will host number five seed Willoughby South this Saturday night in Austintown. According to Annarella, playing the kids from Willoughby will be like looking in a mirror.
“(Willoughby South) reminds me of us,” said the coach after he just finished watching the Rebels on film. “They run a no huddle, they play fast and they have a skilled quarterback. They throw the ball all over.”
The comparisons between the Rebels and the Falcons don’t end there either. Like Fitch, Willoughby South is 9-1. The Rebels’ only loss was in a thrilling 48-47 game against playoff bound Mentor in week five. Willoughby South will be riding high into the playoffs after hanging 62 points on Chardon last week for its fifth straight victory.
There was a slight chance that the Falcons would actually have to travel to Willoughby for this playoff starter, but thanks to some help from other teams Fitch will not have to leave the friendly confines of Austintown. Coach Annarella hopes that Falcon Nation does not make things easy on this week’s adversary.
“We are thankful that this game is at home and we can’t wait to take the field this Saturday night,” he said excitedly.
Fitch’s Shane Stevens sees daylight through a large gaping hole in the Boardman defense in Friday’s game. Stevens stepped in to lead the Falcons after starting quarterback Demitrious Davis was injured in the second quarter.