Heading into the 2012 high school football season there was serious concern in Austintown that the normally quick-moving Falcon offense may be slowed down by the graduation of some highly skilled players.
A 24-point output in week one against highly regarded Warren Harding symbolized a nice start to the season, but a big scoring boom was needed to help everyone in Falcon Nation forget the past and embrace the present. That output occurred last Friday night in Akron. Fitch scored a touchdown in the first quarter, two in the second then three more in the third to come home from hostile territory with a 49-9 hammering of Hoban.
"We started slow then things started to pick up," said Fitch head coach Phil Annarella following his team's second consecutive victory. "Our preparation (for the game) was great."
In Annarella's spread attack, the quarterback is always the one that needs to be the most prepared. Senior signal caller Matt Futkos has been ready to lead the Falcons since the middle of last season and he has proven to be very reliable so far this season. Futkos found three different receivers for touchdowns and ran for another to pace the pasting of Hoban. He only missed three passes and totaled 185 yards through the air.
"(Futkos) has had two tremendous games," Annarella said. "He is making good decisions and managing the game very well."
After the Akron outfit took a 2-0 lead on a first quarter safety, Futkos started lacing the hot summer air with leather. The senior hit fellow twelfth-grader Tyler Grover on a 16-yard pass for a 7-2 lead. He started the second stanza by connecting with junior Kerrell Johnson from 29-yards away to make it 14-2. Following Futkos' rushing touchdown, he hit junior Austin Hogan for a 19-yard score.
Between the touchdown plunge by Futkos and the pass to Hogan, Fitch got a 4-yard touchdown run by Tyreese Anderson and a fantastic 46-yard interception return for a score by senior Keith Lawrence. Anderson has solidified Fitch's backfield with two good games in a row to start the season. The senior had 120 yards on just nine carries last Friday.
Lawrence helped spearhead a defensive charge that kept Hoban under 200 total yards and force a few turnovers. In fact, Fitch has now held two very offensive-minded opponents to just 19 points combined in two outings. Coach Annarella was not hesitant to heap praise on his assistants for back-to-back weeks of readiness.
"Coach (Wally) Hurdley and his staff did a tremendous job," Annarella bragged. "After we gave up those two points on a bad snap our defense really picked up. We kept things simple on defense and the players carried out our game plan well. We really did a good job with (Hoban's) five wide set and their skill players."
As pleased as coach Annarella was with his defense last week he is well aware it will take the same type of Herculean effort displayed against Hoban to stop Brunswick's offense this week. Brunswick (2-0) is coming off a marvelous 38-10 mashing of Mentor Lake Catholic in week 2 and is a huge Division I force.
"In (Brunswick's) conference there are teams such as Solon, Mentor and Medina," Annarella explained. "Those are big schools. Brunswick is much bigger than us."
Usually Brunswick is bestowed a playoff berth, but coming off a 6-4 season it is looking to 2012 as a springboard back into state prominence. Helping to bring the Blue Devils back are twin seniors Dan and Keith Yohman. The Yohman twins did yeoman's work against Mentor combining to score all five of their team's touchdowns.
"(Brunswick) is very diversified on offense," said Annarella. "They have a playmaking quarterback (Dan Yohman) and are very fast and elusive on both offense and defense."
Annarella's Falcons have proven to be fast and elusive too so far this summer, which should make watching this clash of 2-0 titans extra exciting. Although there is not much of a history between the two schools, a history making event may very well be in the offing this Friday night at Falcon Stadium.