For the sixth week in a row, the Fitch football team played a nearly spotless game in all three facets of football.
Due to that near perfection, the Falcons were able to remain perfect on the season with a 56-7 elimination of Youngstown East last Friday at Fitch Falcon Stadium.
"I'm running out of things to say," said Fitch head coach Phil Annarella trying not to overstate how overjoyed he is with his team's 6-0 start. "Things have been OK. I hope they stay OK."
Apparently coach Annarella's definition of OK is a little different than Webster's because his Falcons are far from OK. Fitch has arguably been the best team in Mahoning County since week 1.
Fitch's picking apart of the Panthers last Friday began early when sensational sophomore running back Darrin Hall dashed in from five yards away a few minutes into the first quarter. Senior quarterback Matt Futkos made it 14-0 in favor of the Falcons later in the first period when he followed his mammoth offensive line into the end zone from three yards out. Dazzling runs of 32 and 20 yards by Hall in the second stanza and a 17-yard touchdown jaunt by Kerrell Johnson off an end around gave Fitch a 35-7 halftime lead. Essentially, the game ended at that point for East.
The Falcons were able to pad their impressive lead in the second half when Futkos scored for the second time on a 15-yard run. The combination of Futkos and Hall (who ended the night with 150 yards rushing) was proof again of just how fabulous Fitch's offensive line has been all season.
"The offensive line deserves a lot of credit," explained Annarella. "When you have backs running for good yards your offensive line has got to be doing a good job."
The big boys up front for the Falcons did well in the fourth quarter too when seldom used senior Tyler Bean bulled in from one yard out with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Getting Bean and his bench brethren some varsity time during this stretch of blowout victories has been a major plus for the Falcons.
"We're getting these younger kids some reps and that should help us should we hopefully make the playoffs," Annarella said. "We have a couple guys banged up so some of these guys will have to step up for us."
One Fitch player who stepped up on defense was junior lineman Tony Behanna who scooped up an East fumble in the end zone in the fourth quarter to make it 49-7 Falcons. With junior linebacker C.J. Martini out for an unknown amount of time with an injury, players like Behanna will have to play bigger roles to keep the Fitch defense, which has only allowed an average of five point per game, humming along in the final four weeks.
This Friday the Falcons will put their perfect mark on the line in the most hostile of environments. Fitch will travel to Massillon to play 5-1 Washington. While a member of the Federal League the last few years the Falcons tussled with Massillon Perry and Massillon Jackson, but it's been a few years since they have met mighty Massillon Washington.
"We will be renewing a rivalry that we had long before I got here," Annarella announced.
The Tigers' offense has scored nearly 240 points so far this season so they are not offensively challenged to say the least. Conversely, the Tigers' defense has allowed 114 points this season so although it rivals Fitch in scoring, Washington is much more wishy washy than the Falcons defensively. That is one reason why the Massillon kids have had this week's meeting with Fitch circled on their schedules all season.
"(Massillon) is looking for a big year so (doing well) in our game enhances their chances," Annarella said.
Even though the Fitch kids were all born in the nineties, they are not too young or too ignorant to realize the tradition of Massillon football. Coach Annarella wants his boys to be aware of the great chance afforded them to play in Massillon, but also wants them to stay levelheaded.
"Going down there will be hard," said Annarella. "The kids understand the magnitude of playing there, but I still want them to realize that (Massillon) is still another high school football team. This is a big game for them, but we need to worry about ourselves."
If the Falcons are able to follow the script laid out for them in practice this week, then coming home from Massillon 7-0 may not be far fetched.
"We as coaches will do everything in our power to put a good game plan together," said Annarella seriously. "Our kids have adapted to our game plans well so far so hopefully they'll be able to do it again this week."