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There’s an old clich in sports which suggests offense sells tickets while defense wins championships. With an offense that is averaging 43.5 points per game, Austintown Fitch has had little trouble attracting fans to its games. Yet while Fitch’s ability to light up the scoreboard has garnered plenty of attention, its defense is quietly putting together a championship-like season.

Through six games, the unbeaten Falcons have surrendered just 40 points. And, they’ve shut down a number of potent offenses. Four opponents have been held to season-lows against Fitch. Harding, averaging 32.8 points-per-game, was limited to 10 points. Brunswick (31.4 ppg), Boardman (27.6 ppg) and East (24.2 ppg) were all held to a touchdown.

“The biggest key to our success defensively has been the way this group of young men play as a unit,” said Fitch coach Phil Annarella. “There’s no secret in what we do. If you have eleven guys playing team defense and they all follow their assignments, you’re going to have some success.”

Annarella says much of the credit belongs to defensive coordinator Wally Hurdley. The Falcons entered the season “with a bunch of holes to fill, and a lot of question marks.” according to the head coach.“ Wally has done an outstanding job of building this unit,” Annarella said. “They’ve been very consistent every game, from start to finish.”

Still, Annarella is quick to point out that Fitch’s defense will continue to get tested. Friday, it faces a Massillon (5-1) team which is averaging 39.5 points-per-game.

“We have some huge tests ahead of us. This team knows there is no letting up, because as the season wears on, things just continue to get tougher.” Annarella said.


Statewide, 13 teams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten this past weekend. A total of 61 Ohio teams remain undefeated, including 58 which are 6-0. Canton McKinley is 5-0. Napoleon and Kettering Alter are both 5-0-1. The two schools met on Sept. 7 in a game which was ruled a tie after lightning stopped play just two minutes into the contest. Locally, Youngstown Christian suffered its first loss when it fell to Garaway 45-25. Meanwhile, Fitch, Crestview, Niles and Brookfield all moved to 6-0.

All four of the area’s undefeated teams will face opponents with winning records in week 7.

Fitch, which visits Massillon (5-1) is the only to play on the road. Crestview plays host to United (4-2), Brookfield welcomes Ashtabula Edgewood (4-2) while Niles entertains Hubbard (4-2).


A pair of area running backs cracked the 1,000-yard rushing barrier last Friday.

Howland’s DeVeon Smith ran for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 37-14 win over Beaver Local. Despite missing a game, Smith leads the area with 1,018 rushing yards.

Brookfield’s Ryan Mosora now has 1,012 rushing yards, thanks to a 217-yard outburst in a 44-19 win over Campbell.

Crestview’s Nick Blower (996 yards) fell just short of the mark. He gained 252 yards in a 58-7 win over Springfield.

-Steve Ruman


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