On October 26, 2012 – the Fitch Falcons closed out the regular season with a 49-7 victory over Cardinal Mooney. The win notched head coach Phil Annarella’s 200th career victory. The Union alum has made stops at Rayen, Warren Western Reserve, Warren Harding, Hickory, Niles and Fitch. Since stepping foot onto the campus of Austintown Fitch High School in January of 2007, the Falcons have enjoyed four straight winning campaigns. The red and blue have accumulated a 37-26 mark with two playoff appearances (2012, 2010) while suffering through just one losing season (2007: 1-9).
Fitch played St. Ignatius tough in the opening round of the playoffs before falling 35-26. The Falcons will be without a few key pieces as the season approaches including quarterback Matt Futkos, lineman Billy Price, running back Billy Aaron and defensive backs Keith Lawrence and Tyler Grover.
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The Falcons begin 2013 with a trip to Warren Harding on Friday, August 30.
2013 Fitch Falcons’ Football Preview
By Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Phil Annarella, 33rd season (200-126-3)
2012 Record: 9-2, Independent
2012 Post-Season Finish: Lost in Division I Regional Quarterfinal to St. Ignatius, 35-26.
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 40.5 (3rd in Area)
Passing Yards: 97.0 (970)
Rushing Yards: 291.1 (2911)
Points Allowed: 11.7 (1st in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 105.6 (1056)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 144.6 (1446)
Passing: Gabe Chepke – 10 yds, 33.3 Comp % (1-3)
Rushing: Darrin Hall – 109 att, 912 yds, 14 TDs
Receiving: Kerrell Johnson – 5 rec, 139 yds, 2 TDs
Interceptions: Joey Harrington & Devin Miller – 1
Aug. 30 – at Warren Harding, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – Akron Hoban, 7:30 PM
Sept. 13 – at Brunswick, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – Dover, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – at Boardman, 7 PM
Oct. 4 – East, 7:30 PM
Oct. 11 – Massillon, 7:30 PM
Oct. 19 – Marion Harding, 2 PM
Oct. 25 – at Lake, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – at Cardinal Mooney, 7:30 PM
Offensive Strength: The running game has always been a reliable trait of what Fitch likes to do. This season will be no different. Junior Darrin Hall ran for 912 yards on 109 carries (8.4 ypc) and scored 14 touchdowns. Tyler Hewlett, Darrin’s classmate, toted the ball 38 times for 309 stripes which gave him an average of 8.1 yards per carry (5 TDs).
Offensive Weakness: Replacing the leadership and production which Matt Futkos displayed for the Falcons over the past few autumns. Last year, Futkos threw for 960 yards on 58 of 101 tosses (57.4%) during the regular season. Matt did not throw a single interception during the regular season. He capped off the season by scoring 4 touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 passing) in their 49-7 Senior Night victory over Cardinal Mooney.
Defensive Strength: It’s going to be difficult to duplicate last season’s success on defense. Fitch led the area in points allowed (11.7) and permitted just three opponents to score double-digits.
Defensive Weakness: The secondary was hit hard by graduation and obviously the line will lose a lot without Billy Price (Ohio State). With that said, Ryan Sayers returns up front and Sam Ortiz is back at linebacker.
Storylines Facing the Falcons
1. Punt or Kick: Sheely was the Man.Senior Nick Sheely enjoyed much success last season as the team’s punter and kickoff specialist. Sheely averaged 38.3 yards per boot on his punts and 8 of them landed inside of 20 yard line. Nick was also efficient on his kickoffs. Number 43 struck the ball 70 times for a 44.7 average.
2. Scoring Increase. Fitch’s offense went from a unit which averaged 25.1 points per game in 2011 to a prolific bunch which scored 38.2 last fall.
3. Defending the House. Since September 25, 2009 – the Fitch Falcons have compiled a 17-2 home record. Just last year, the Falcons finished with a 6-0 mark in the 44515 zip code.
Did you know? Since 1976, there have been four Falcons recognized by the Associated Press as a defensive linemen on the All-State First-Team (2012: Billy Price, 1992: Chris Inglis, 1983: Mike Uhler, 1976: Mike Trgovac).