Fitch faces another tough schedule as RB Smith seems poised for a big senior year

Hudson will be the first to enter Falcon Stadium in week one

Austintown Fitch Falcons High School Football - Austintown, Ohio

2017 Fitch Football Preview
Head Coach: Phil Annarella, 37th season overall (232-139-3)
Last Season: 5-5 (2-1), 2nd place in AAC Gold
Division: I (Region 1)

More:High School Football previews from other teams

The Good News
Returning Starters: Defense – 7
With a number of playmakers returning from last year’s offensive output of 249 yards per game should increase this year. Randy Smith (5’7, 165 lbs), who’s led the Falcons in rushing in each of the last two seasons, returns after gaining First-Team All-AAC honors and finishing the season with 936 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. His running mates Joey Zielinski (219 yards) and Jakari Lumsden (172 yards) each are back in the fold this Fall. Zielinski was a First-Team All-League linebacker as a junior. They’ll have an offensive line in front of them which features a pair of two-year lettermen in seniors Nick Bush and Nate Armstrong. Catching the ball will be a group led by Devin Moore (7 receptions, 233 yards) – who lettered last year. On defense, Joe McMahon (team’s defensive coordinator) will have back linemen Mike Ferree and Willie Beverly. At linebacker, the 3-5 alignment will be strong with Emanuel Dawkins, Zielinski and Lumsden all back after lettering last Fall. Seniors Shane Hewlett and Tyrell Oliver will be asked to solidify the secondary. Their specialists – Nick DeSalvo (42.9 average on 36 punts) and Dylan Correia (kicker) will be back in 2017.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – Hudson, 7:30
Sept. 1 – at Brunswick, 7:30
Sept. 8 – Louisville, 7:30
Sept. 15 – at Harding, 7
Sept. 22 – East, 7
Sept. 29 – Massillon, 7:30
Oct. 6 – at Lakeside, 7
Oct. 13 – McDowell, 7:30
Oct. 20 – at Boardman, 7
Oct. 27 – at Mooney, 7:30

More:High School Football schedules from other teams

Challenges
Returning Starters: Offense – 4
As it seems every year – Fitch must replace a large number of contributors who graduated. This off-season is no different, the Falcons must replace offensive linemen (Alec Greathouse), defensive linemen (Bryce Warmuth), linebackers (Larry Harrington), defensive backs (Marquis Barbel, Zach Krohn) and the team’s top receiver (JC Mikovich). Krohn finished second on the team with 2 interceptions. Mikovich led the team in picks (4) and in receiving (22 catches, 259 yards). Over the past three seasons, Mikovich has caught 54 passes for 658 yards (12.2 average).

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: .639 (69-39)
Playoff Appearances: 5
Playoff Record: 4-5
League Championships: 1 (2010)
League Record: 14-20*
*-2007-2010 Federal League; 2015-2016 All-American Conference

2016 Results
Mooney 7 Falcons 0
Falcons 12 Boardman 7
McDowell 28 Falcons 21 OT
Falcons 38 Lakeside 0
Massillon 38 Falcons 21
Falcons 38 East 6
Harding 35 Falcons 0
Falcons 26 Louisville 0
Falcons 27 Brunswick 20
Hudson 17 Falcons 7

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 19.0 (42nd in Area)
Total Offense: 249.4
Passing Offense: 82.4
Rushing Offense: 167.0
Scoring Defense: 15.8 (8th in Area)
…Fitch has featured a defense which has held the opposition to an average of 17-points or less in 6 of the last 7 years.

Key Number
The Fitch Falcons haven’t suffered through a losing season since 2007 (1-9). Since 2010, the Falcons have piled up four seasons of 8-wins or more (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014).

Featured Stat
Since 2010, the Falcons have featured 5 different ball carriers who have eclipsed 750-yards rushing during a season.
2013: Darrin Hall – 1480
2014: Antwan Harris – 1446
2013: Antwan Harris – 1444
2010: Demitrious Davis – 1091*
2016: Randy Smith – 936
2012: Darrin Hall – 912
2014: Tyler Hewlett – 787
*-Regular Season Statistics

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