Sure, the Falcons had back-to-back wins to start the season, but it was strong play by the Falcons’ defense that spearheaded those victories. After what happened last Friday in Austintown, coach Annarella will be able to cease grumbling for a while. The Falcons finally got back some of their offensive mojo as they picked up win number three in a row 49-0 over St. Mary’s from Ontario, Canada. Fitch played inhospitable hosts to the Canadian kids as the offense racked up 335 total yards in the whitewash. Thanks to the large output, coach Annarella was able to get plenty of players on the field. In fact, Annarella’s starters played barely more than one quarter, but when the first-stringers were in they did some damage. Will Mahone had two rushing touchdowns for the Fitch starters, Demitrious Davis had 127 yards passing including a 35-yard scoring toss to his twin brother Chris and Tyreese Anderson scored on a 31-yard run. Offensive touchdowns came from other sources as well such as junior Kyle Gumble who had a 7-yard touchdown run and sophomore Gary Gibson who had an impressive 67-yard touchdown tote. All of the scoring was great, but coach Annarella was not sure if it meant that his team was out of its offensive slump.
“It is hard to gauge,” said the coach. “(The Canadian school) is not used to playing teams of our caliber. Everyone was happy though because they got to play. A lot of kids had smiles on their faces.”
For the third straight week everyone on Fitch’s defense was able to smile broadly too. Without a hockey stick and a puck these kids from Ontario were out of their element all night. Not only did Fitch throw a shutout, but it didn’t allow many first downs either. Justin Fooks had the most notable play on defense when he made a nice snag of an errant throw and scored on a 60-yard interception return. With the shutout the Falcons have now allowed only 10 points in three games.
That gaudy ten point total will certainly be put to the test this week when the Falcons fly south to take on Canton McKinley. This matchup used to be for bragging rights in the Federal League, but with Fitch now out of the conference it is just to fill a scheduling obligation and to earn post season playoff points. It will sure to be like a playoff atmosphere in Canton this weekend when the Bulldogs try to gain revenge for last season’s loss to the Falcons.
“This week will tell a lot about us,” said Annarella sounding as if he wished “this week” was already here. “McKinley is big, fast and strong. They are even bigger than they were last year.”
The difference between the Bulldogs and any of the three teams Fitch has beaten so far this season is that the Canton clan can match the Falcons in offensive firepower.
“(McKinley) is a big play team,” Annarella announced. “They got big leads in all three of the games they have played thanks to big plays. Their quarterback is much improved too. Their offense is impressive.”
Fitch’s offense also has the potential to be mighty impressive, but it must build on the short work it did against St. Mary’s. One way to build on that performance is to get continued better play from quarterback Davis. Annarella liked what he saw in the limited time Davis was at the helm last week.
“He is gaining his confidence back,” said Annarella about his senior signal caller. “He had a long way to go after the injury last year (suffered in the playoffs) and he is now getting back into the groove. He ran and threw well (last Friday).”
McKinley’s defense is used to opposing quarterbacks trying to throw on them because they see a lot of spread offenses in the Federal League. That is why the Falcons will try to run the ball more like Cardinal Mooney did against the Bulldogs in its week one upset.
“(Mooney) wore down (McKinley) in the fourth quarter,” Annarella analyzed. “Mooney is not as wide open as we are and we don’t have (Mooney’s) size, but we need to have balance on offense to win.”
Photos by Ryan McMasters, Town Crier correspondent
Will Mahone makes a quick escape during Friday night's big win against St. Mary's, Ontario. The Falcons beat the Crusaders, 49-0.