Despite being eliminated from the first round of the Division I playoffs, it was still a stellar year for the Fitch football team.
Three members of that 9-2 Falcon group were rewarded for their outstanding play recently. This past Monday, the Associated Press named Billy Price, Matt Futkos and Keith Lawrence to its All State Team. Price was named the co-winner of the Division I Defensive Player of the Year and was also the Northeast Inland Defensive Player of the Year. Futkos and Lawrence were Honorable Mentions in Division I.
"I'm happy these kids got the recognition they deserved," said Fitch head football coach Phil Annarella a day after the announcement was made. "They all lead to our team chemistry and to the success we had as a team."
Price's success was predicted from the time he first walked into a Fitch locker room four years ago. The 6 foot-4-inch, 312-pound interior lineman has been a force on both sides of Fitch's lines forever. The Falcons averaged 42 points per game and nearly 300 yards rushing in part to the way Price pummeled his defensive opponents. He was really recognized, however, as the anchor of a Falcon defensive front that allowed only 91 points all season and was nearly impossible at times to run on. He shared Defensive Honors with Tracy Sprinkle of Elyria and Shane Jones of Cincinnati Moeller. Price may have been joined by those other two great athletes as Player of the Year, but he was the one and only winner in the eyes of his head coach.
"(Price) is a terrific young man," said Annarella. "Players like him don't come along too often. We were fortunate to have him. I'm sure he'll have a wonderful career."
That football career will continue for Price at The Ohio State University.
Futkos was a fabulous player for a one and a half seasons as Fitch's starting quarterback. He was rushed into a starting role in 2011 due to injury and got his feet wet then completely took control as the number one man in 2012. Futkos was a dual-threat signal caller passing for 960 yards, running for 300 more and scoring 21 total touchdowns despite missing a brief amount of time due to his own ailments. The senior's passing rating was a remarkable 164 and he didn't throw an interception until the playoff loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius. Not only were Matt's numbers mighty, but he was one heck of a field general too.
"(Futkos) was a great leader," bragged Annarella. "(The honorable mention) was well deserved. He had a great year. It's amazing he only threw one interception."
Amazing is a word that could also be used to describe the athleticism of Lawrence. He excelled at both defensive back, where he was usually in charge of keeping guard on the other team's best wideout and at wide receiver, where he became a favorite target of Futkos' throughout the season. The work Lawrence put in to become such a worthy recipient of an Honorable Mention impressed his coach greatly.
"(Lawrence) came a long way," Annarella said admiringly. "He was very consistent at both wide receiver and defensive back. He did a tremendous job all year."
Now, thanks to the AP, the entire state of Ohio can witness how tremendous this trio of Fitch Falcons was too.