Even with the dynamic Davis behind center, the Falcons would have been huge underdogs against the unbeaten and high-powered Comets. Without the junior signal caller, who was out with a sprained knee, Fitch was left in the dust at Warren’s Mollenkopf Stadium by the streaking Comets, 41-0. The loss unceremoniously ended one of the greatest seasons in recent Falcon football history.
“We didn’t play real well,” said a subdued Fitch head coach Phil Annarella from his home over the weekend. “(Solon) is a darn good football team. They deserved to win.”
Solon deserved to taste victory because it did something that no other team has been able to do all season against the Falcons and that was put the wraps on the ferocious Fitch offense. The Falcons floundered all evening to the tune of just 138 yards of total offense. Only 38 of those yards were picked up on the ground by the heretofore powerful Falcon rushing attack. Fitch never scored less than 24 points this year, yet there were the Falcons last Saturday standing on the sidelines staring at that big fat goose egg on the scoreboard. Certainly, all of that offensive ineptitude could be traced back to Davis’ absence, but coach Annarella expected a few other Falcons to spread their wings in this contest.
“We knew (not having Davis at quarterback) would be a problem,” said Annarella. “We thought (other players) would pick it up better. We didn’t.”
Solon picked up a blocked punt after Fitch’s first possession and returned it to the Falcon six yard line. The Comets scored their first touchdown quickly after that and steamrolled the Falcons from that point on.
“Everything snowballed after that,” said Annarella. “They outplayed us from that point.”
Not many teams outplayed the Falcons during this 10-2 season. Fitch was able to avenge its only Federal League loss to win the loop going away. The Falcons earned one playoff victory, the first in a while for the team. Davis was able to rush for and pass for more than 1,000 yards. Will Mahone established himself as a touchdown-scoring force culminating in a five touchdown game in Fitch’s playoff win over Willoughby South. Annarella acknowledged that none of those accomplishments could have been achieved without the help of some sensational seniors who ended up playing their final game in Warren.
“I told the seniors after the game what a wonderful group of kids they were to coach,” said Annarella. “I told them not to dwell on the last game. We got as much as we could out of this group. They worked hard and were overachievers.”
Fitch’s coach will expect his returning players to work even harder in preparation for the 2011 season. One of the areas where Annarella would like to see the most improvement is in the strength department.
“We will need to do a lot of work in the offseason” Annarella explained. “We will need to do a lot of work in the weight room. We were not as physical as some of the teams we played. We approached the offseason well last year and we hope to do even better this off season.”
It will be hard to imagine Fitch getting much better than it was this season, but with an offensive core like Demitrious Davis, Chris Davis, Mahone and Lucas Haupt returning it is also hard to picture the Falcons getting shut out in any game next year either. The one thing that will be different for sure is that the Falcons will be playing a much different schedule in 2011 than it did in seasons past. Fitch’s affiliation with the Federal League has ended and its status as an independent has begun. Although the Falcons not having the opportunity to defend their conference championship will signal a major change in scheduling, it will not change Annarella’s approach to coaching his team.
“Not playing for a league title will be hard,” said the coach, “but we have to control what we can control.”
Photos by Emmett King, Town Crier correspondent
After being injured last week, the only thing that Demitrious Davis could do was cheer for his team from the sideline at Warren’s Mollenkofp Stadium over the weekend.