When a football team is in the middle of a three-game losing streak, a win to snap that skid need not be pretty.
That is exactly the situation Fitch’s football team found itself in last Friday when it traveled to North Canton Hoover. Losers of three straight and riddled with injuries to many of their starters, the Falcons gutted their way to a 14-7 victory over the Vikings. The triumph may not have been picturesque, but it did halt the losing and kept Fitch above .500 for the season (4-3). Fitch head coach Phil Annarella, in fact, thought that the win was quite beautiful.
“We’ll sure take it,” said Annarella about the successful streak stopper. “I told the kids I was tremendously proud of their effort.”
One of the reasons why Annarella was so proud was that once again the Falcons had to take the field with a lineup that looked more like the scout team than the regular unit. For the third straight week, Fitch was without many of its key components, which put the team at a huge disadvantage.
“We had subs playing for subs,” Annarella marveled. “Those kids did such a great job. They played as hard as they could.”
One of those fill-ins was quarterback Matt Futkos who started for the injured Demitrious Davis for the third consecutive game and was efficient and at times spectacular. Futkos threw a terrific touchdown pass to Tyler Grover that totaled 55 yards. He also evoked images of Davis by rushing the ball 22 times for 102 yards including an 11-yard touchdown.
Those two scores were the only ones Fitch would get all night so it needed to keep the Vikings out of the end zone. Thanks to an inspired effort by their defense, the Falcons did just that. Despite plenty of trips inside the red zone, Hoover never really hurt Fitch’s defenders. The Vikings, known for having a nice rushing attack, only netted 85 yards on the ground all game. Coach Annarella could not be happier for the way his defense stepped up on an evening when it was really needed.
“The defense did a tremendous job keeping (Hoover) out of the end zone,” said Annarella. “They had multiple times inside our red zone, but the defense did a great job (keeping them from scoring).”
Fitch’s defense may catch a break this week when the Falcons travel to Massillon Perry. The Panthers are almost as banged up as much as Fitch is. Those injuries have resulted in the Panthers losing four consecutive games after two opening season wins. Perry has only been able to put up 16 points over the past three weeks, but coach Annarella certainly is not shedding a tear for the Panthers.
“(Perry) is beat up too,” he said. “It may be a case of who is the last man standing this week. Nobody is feeling sorry for us though.”
It may be a sorry sight if some of Fitch’s injured athletes do not return to the field soon. It was too early in the week for Annarella to predict which players would suit up in Massillon on Friday, but whoever does don a Fitch helmet better be ready to play.
“Our supporting cast did a good job (versus Hoover) and will need to be ready to step up again,” Annarella insisted.
More starters in the game for Fitch may even result in a win that is much more aesthetically pleasing.