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Falcons hit the road with 20-9 win over Hudson

August 29, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

With only nine returning starters and 10 returning letter winners, this season's version of the Fitch football team is one of the most inexperienced in recent memory.

Even with those odds stacked against them, the Falcons were able to hit the road last Friday night and come home with a 20-9 season opening triumph over Hudson. The win not only got the Falcons off on the right foot for 2018, but it also wiped away the bad feeling of a stinging 20-7 loss to the Explorers in Week 1 last year. Fitch did go on to win six games a season ago despite that defeat, so perhaps even better things are in store for Phil Annarella's club this fall.

"It was a good start to our season, I'm proud of the kids," said the veteran leader. "(Hudson) is a good program that's had our number so it was good to get over the hump against them. It's the first time we're 1-0 in a while."

If the Falcons are going to eclipse the six wins they gathered in 2017 they will need solid play from the quarterback spot. Gone from last year's group is solid starting signal caller Joey Zielinski. Stepping in behind center is senior newcomer Bobby Cavalier who played admirably in his initial varsity start. He played most of the contest before dinging his shoulder in the second half. Coach Annarella called to the bullpen and summoned senior Dom Montalbano. This preseason it was a two horse race between the two upperclassmen to take the Falcons' reigns. Since both played so well in Week 1, Annarella may be forced to do something he isn't used to doing.

"Both will have to be ready to play," said Annarella. "We may be in the situation where we have to play whoever has the hot hand."

Montalbano had the hottest hand against Hudson. Well, actually, he had the hottest feet. He ran for two of Fitch's three touchdowns. Cavalier also managed the game steadily in the time he was running the offense.

"There were a couple of glitches, but overall I was pleased (with the quarterback play)," Annarella said.

Despite the coach's admission that he may have to take a quarterback by committee approach, it is likely that a healthy Cavalier should see the bulk of the starting opportunities. That has to do more with Montalbano's versatility than his talent.

"Dom starts at inside linebacker and is one of our leading tacklers," said Annarella. "Playing him both ways is asking a lot of him, but he said he was ready to go (on Friday night)."

Junior running back A.J. Winterburn scored the Falcons' other touchdown against the Explorers.

This Friday, the Falcons open the home portion of their schedule against Erie. This will be the first time that Fitch faces off with this Erie city school that is a combination of players from three schools. The Royals finished their first season as a football team 9-3 a year ago. Coach Annarella predicts this will be a powerful opponent.

"This is going to be a big test for us," he said. "We have to be ready to play."

The coach hopes his defense will be the most ready unit of his team this Friday. The Falcons are testing out a few new schemes on defense in 2018 and right now the coach isn't quite as comfortable with it as he'd like to be.

"Our defense is a work in progress," Annarella said. "We need to shore some things up. We have to shuffle some kids around and put the right pieces in the right holes."



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