Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Austintown Fitch football's success isn't without ties to its last playoff appearance in 1992.
Twelve years ago, Marc Presley, Don Sherwood, Chris Inglis and Jason Cochran lined up on the same offensive line for coach Dave Hartman.
The four are still actively involved with the team today -- Presley and Sherwood as Touchdown Club officers, Cochran as assistant coach and Inglis as a volunteer assistant.
In 1992, Presley was the center, Sherwood was tight end and Inglis was right guard. Cochran, then a junior, was an alternate at guard.
It marked Fitch's third playoff appearance (1986 and 1990 were earlier playoff-qualifying seasons).
Falcons reachedstate semifinals
The Falcons of 1992 beat Massillon Perry and Pickerington, then lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I state semifinals.
That was when only four teams per region qualified.
Presley is president of the Austintown Touchdown Club -- and Sherwood is vice-president.
"This follows some down years," Presley said of the Falcons' resurgence. "We're excited about the job Neal Kopp and his staff have done. We're proud to see the program regaining the tradition it's always had."
Involvement is very important to the quartet, Presley said.
"It's our consensus that Fitch football did a tremendous amount to influence us growing up. Now, hopefully, we can help the kids have a positive experience."
Presley and Sherwood are financial advisors for Butler Wick & amp; Co.
As a junior, Presley was guard/inside linebacker. Sherwood and Inglis were also outside linebackers as seniors in 1992. Inglis, an All-Ohioan, has been helping Kopp and staff.
Former players don'tstop paving the way
As a player, Cochran was also a defensive tackle. Now, he coaches interior offensive linemen and inside linebackers.
Cochran and Inglis also work with strength/conditioning.
The Touchdown Club has roughly 40 active members, most of whom are involved in the day-to-day business.
"We get tremendous help from the community," Presley, 29, said of fund-raising efforts.
Despite bad weather during the Chaney and Uniontown Lake games, attendance has been solid, Presley said.
"The fans do a great job traveling. A lot of fans go to all the away games, which is nice."
Another former player is Bill Goldner. Now teaching in the Columbus area, Goldner was Fitch's left offensive tackle and defensive tackle in 1992. Dan Inglis was an inside linebacker.
Dan Birminghambusy with boxers
Another Austintown Fitch product, pro boxing trainer Dan Birmingham has some insight into the upcoming Kelly Pavlik-Ross Thompson bout on Nov. 27.
"The fight matches a puncher/boxer [Pavlik] with a slick boxer/survivor [Thompson]," said Birmingham, who now resides in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Kelly should rely on his skills and conditioning to outpoint Ross. He won't have a problem as long as he boxes and doesn't get caught up trying to knock him out. Good luck to Kelly."
Birmingham said his camp would entertain the idea of Antwun Echols fighting Pavlik.
Echols, one of Birmingham's fighters, beat Thompson in May. Echols fights Dec. 2 in Washington against an opponent to-be-named.
Birmingham is busy getting his top fighter, WBC/WBA super welterweight champ Winky Wright, ready for his Shane Mosley rematch on Nov. 20.
"We are looking for a tough fight this time," Birmingham said. "I believe he will take more chances with Winky, trying to engage Wink in a slugfest. I believe that will be detrimental for Mosley, as that type of fight will create more openings for Wink. I have implemented a few things for this rematch, trying to show Mosley a few different looks. Our camp is very confident we will win in spectacular fashion."
Birmingham's other champ, Jeff Lacy, defends his IBF super middleweight belt against Omar Sheika on Dec. 4 in Vegas on Showtime.