Unfortunately, the titanic encounter of GlenOak’s Bri’onte Dunn and Fitch’s Will Mahone never materialized. Dunn lasted just one and a half quarters before succumbing to an injury that left him on the bench the rest of the game. Mahone’s night was even shorter. On Fitch’s first possession, Mahone was dinged up with some sort of leg injury. The superstar senior went to the sidelines never to return. Although the trade of Mahone for Dunn may have seemed to still favor the Falcons, it ended up completely going the other way. Other Eagles ascended in their all-state teammate’s stead as GlenOak handed Fitch its second straight loss, 21-10.
“We didn’t play poorly,” said a dejected Fitch head coach Phil Annarella over the phone. “(GlenOak) played well. Their backups are good. Their offensive line was huge and they wore us down with their power. We have a lot of guys going both ways so we wore down easier.”
Fitch wore down the most after taking a 10-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. To replace Dunn, the Eagles had to call on three players and that trio was certainly up to the task. Tyler Lancaster, Josh Lever and Jordan Autry combined for more than 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns to put the Eagles in the catbird’s seat. Meanwhile, the Falcons called on junior running back Tyreese Anderson to shoulder the burden left by Mahone’s early exit. Anderson did OK statistically rushing 29 times for 122 yards, but he made a couple of costly miscues that had Annarella annoyed.
“(Anderson) fumbled a couple times,” said the coach coldly. “He played very well minus those couple fumbles, but you can’t turn the ball over to a good team like (GlenOak). We had more turnovers (Friday) than we have had all season.”
Not only was Mahone missing from Fitch’s backfield, but star quarterback Demitrious Davis did not suit up for action either. Making his second straight start in relief duty of Davis was junior Matt Futkos. Futkos seemed overmatched all evening as the Falcons really struggled moving the football. The junior was sacked five times by the more imposing GlenOak defense and Fitch could only manage 45 yards of offense in the second half.
“It was not (Futkos’) best performance and I told him that,” Annarella announced sternly. “This is the only time I have seen him play that badly. We must now get him back to where he can do well.”
Listening to coach Annarella discuss Futkos it sounded as if Davis may not be ready to play this Friday at home against Massillon Jackson. Davis’ father Chris wrote in a text message how eager his boy was to get back on the field last Friday so the only ones who should stop him from playing this week will be the team doctors. The same can be said about Mahone.
“We were cautious with him,” said Annarella on Sunday. “We know (the leg) is not broken and we’ll know more at the beginning of the week.”
One thing Annarella does know for certain is that Massillon Jackson can compete with any team in the Federal League. The Polar Bears were tied with mighty Canton McKinley in the fourth quarter of last week’s game before giving up a score to lose 22-14. Like Fitch, Jackson won its first three games then lost its next two. That identical 3-2 mark does not make coach Annarella feel any better though.
“(Jackson) is having a good season,” he said. “They played McKinley well and will be ready for us.”
With Davis and Mahone possibly not ready to face the Polar Bears the Falcons will once again rely on some other players to play more important roles this week. Fitch has a roster full of talented kids, but games are not won on the paper that roster is written on.
“Other guys need to step up,” insisted Annarella. “Injuries are part of the game no matter what level of football you’re playing. This will be a test to see where we are as a team.”
Fitch’s Will Harrington sacks the Glen Oak Quarterback in the first half of the Canton GlenOak game on Friday.