By Jon Moffett
|4/5||Div. III||All-American Conference Red Tier|
|5/4||Div. I||All-American Conference Gold Tier|
Whatever momentum Poland High had in its week one victory over Hubbard was quickly taken away by Austintown Fitch High.
Well, more specifically by junior linebacker Will Mahone.
The Falcons (2-0) opened up on the Bulldogs (1-1) at Dave Pavlansky Field to the tune of a 48-13 victory. But the momentum of the game was squarely with the Falcons thanks to Mahone and the defense.
Poland won the toss, but deferred to Fitch.
Fitch chose to receive, and scored on its opening drive on a 5-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Demitrious Davis.
After the ensuing kick, Poland junior quarterback Colin Reardon ran on the Bulldogs’ first offensive play, scampering for 15 yards. Running along side him was Mahone, who casually reached in and snagged the ball away, and returned it 20 yards to the Poland 25-yard line.
The turnover set up the second of seven touchdowns for the Falcons. Davis added another score on the ground, and threw for two more in the route.
“We were just working on tempo and trying to wear them down early, and then everything will be easy after that,” Davis said.
The Falcons operated out of the no-huddle early. Coach Phil Annarella said the tempo is something he wants his team to learn now, and apply to its Federal League games later in the year.
“We do that every day, because that doesn’t just happen naturally,” he said. “Many teams that do this, the premise is to wear down the opponent because when you’re playing at a high level fast, it’s different than waiting 20 seconds for the referee to spot the ball.
“The energy level has to be a little bit higher, and sometimes it’s a real detriment to your opponent.”
The no-huddle, coupled with Davis’ athleticism, kept the Bulldogs off balance. Whenever there wasn’t an open receiver, Davis would tuck the ball and run.
He ran for 132 yards, and threw for 192. Davis had runs of 34 and 67 yards. He also completed passes of 39 and 46 yards. The latter pass was a touchdown strike to senior wideout Cam Patterson.
Davis said the touchdown runs — of 5 and 67 yards — were a credit to the offense as a whole and not just him.
“My receivers and the offensive line did a good job blocking, so I have to give it up to them,” he said. “Our offense is really coming together. We were a little shaky in the offseason, but our offensive line, receivers and backs area all starting to come together.”
Also leading the charge for the Falcons was running back Bruce Reed. A senior, Reed had 80 yards on 10 carries. He scored on a 5-yard run midway through the third quarter.
Poland coach Mark Brungard said he knew going in it would be tough for his Division III Bulldogs to upset the Div. I Falcons. But he hoped the team would play better.
“We came into this game like any other game,” he said. “We wanted to complete, play at our best and let the chips fall where they may. We knew our opponent was very tough, very fast and well-coached. They have everything you need to be a great team.”
In two games, the Falcons have scored 106 points while allowing only 20.
Annarella said he hopes the team plays as well against its rivals in the Federal League, which the Falcons will leave after this year. And he hopes to leave conference the same way the team came in: with a championship.