Category: Fairland

Trojans, Dragons meet in crucial contest

Trojans, Dragons meet in crucial contest

 

By PAUL BOGGS

Photo’s by Kent Sanborn

For Fairland football coach Melvin Cunningham, he had a remarkable comparison – and actually an ultimate compliment – for Portsmouth standout running back Talyn Parker.

 

Head Coach Melvin Cunningham

Current Team
Fairland
“You remember the old Nintendo game systems? For the football junkies who had those, there was a game called Tecmo Bowl and it featured Bo Jackson. Talyn Parker is Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl. He has speed, he has shiftiness, he makes explosive plays, and he gives us coaches nightmares figuring out how to stop him,” said Cunningham, in a telephone interview this week.

 

Cunningham said he had experienced a sleepless night or two trying to gameplan for Parker, but perhaps he will rest comfortably come Saturday morning – should his Fairland Dragons do the job and put Parker and the Trojans under wraps.

However, as most other OVC teams have already proven, that’s much easier said than done.

 

In a key Ohio Valley Conference clash, the Dragons host the Trojans on Friday night – with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

 

As the 6-1 Trojans invade 4-3 Fairland, the Dragons do realize that this is their last stand – as far as possibly winning a share of the OVC championship, and more likely landing a Division V, Region 19 playoff spot.

 

Fairland (6.2374 computer points average) is 10th  in the latest release of the Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings – and needs to win out in order to have a realistic opportunity at making the postseason for the second year in a row.

 

The Dragons are 2-2 in the OVC while the Trojans are 3-1, as both teams need  two losses by defending champion Gallia Academy and/or Ironton – which play each other next week.

 

Head Coach Bruce Kalb

Current Team
Portsmouth
Past Teams
Waverly
“We’re still in good position for the league (championship) to place where we would like to place,” said Portsmouth coach Bruce Kalb. “We would like to win our next three at all costs to put ourselves in position to at least compete for the league title and week-11. Fairland is going to be a tough road game for us, and any time you load a bunch of 16 or 17-year-old kids up on a bus and drive for an hour and 15 minutes, focus becomes a concern.”

 

As for its playoff possibilities, Portsmouth precariously sits inside the top eight of Region 19 at seventh (9.3143), and is the lowest-ranked of any of the five 6-1 clubs.

 

The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.

 

Cunningham said simply, that with his Dragons at 4-3, every game from here on out is treated as a playoff tilt.

 

“When you are 4-3, and in the region we are in, every game is basically a playoff game. We have to win out and there is no room for error in that region,” he said.

The Dragons have an opportunity at climbing that ladder this week, but they will have to at least limit Parker, who officially hit the 100-carry AND went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in last week’s win over Chesapeake (34-20).

 

#
1
Name
Talyn Parker
Position
2020
Height
5-11
Weight
195
Current Team
Portsmouth
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
Parker, as he often does, posted big plays for touchdown runs – scoring the first time he touched the ball for 60 yards, followed by two more one-play possessions that went for 59 and 22-yard TD bursts.

 

Against Chesapeake, Parker put up 288 yards and three scores on 17 carries, as he now has 85 yards over 1,000 for the season – and 14 yards over 5,900 for his career.

 

The Dragons do get an advantage of playing Portsmouth and Parker on natural grass – and not on the friendly and fast FieldTurf confines of Trojan Coliseum.

 

Still, the gameplan for Parker is the same, Cunningham claimed.

 

“You are not going to completely stop Talyn. He is too good of an athlete and has too much speed. But we do have to slow him down and control him, and you do that by not allowing all of his big plays, his splash plays,” he said. “When you get a hand on him, you have keep a hand on him and make the tackle. You have to do a great job of getting guys to him and getting him on the ground. He can completely change the outcome and complexion of the game on one carry. We can’t allow him to do to us what he has done to everybody else, which is score on 40, 50 or 60-yard runs.”

 

For Kalb, it’s a familiar refrain that he recognizes.

 

#
5
Name
Drew Roe
Position
2022
Height
235
Weight
5-06
Current Team
Portsmouth
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
These Trojans, though, have been far from a one-man wrecking crew, as sophomore quarterback Drew Roe has completed 64-of-116 passes for 1,050 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions.

 

#
9
Name
Eric Purdy
Position
2020
Height
5-08
Weight
155
Current Team
Portsmouth
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
Eric Purdy has caught 25 passes for 353 yards,

 

 

#
2
Name
Bryce Wallace
Position
2020
Height
6-02
Weight
155
Current Team
Portsmouth
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
  while Bryce Wallace has 18 receptions for 408 yards.

 

“With Drew Roe’s ability to get the ball out to those guys, and now the defense has to know where they are and cover them, that opens up even more lanes for Talyn to run in. It becomes pick your poison,” said Kalb. “Do you stack the box and stop Talyn Parker, or do you widen your defense out and allow Talyn the chance to do what he does best?”

But Kalb cautioned that the Dragons do have weapons of their own, including senior wide receiver Reilly Sowards, who returned last week against South Point from a broken collarbone suffered in Fairland’s first preseason scrimmage.

#
10
Name
Reilly Sowards
Position
2020
Height
6-02
Weight
160
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019

He caught a touchdown pass for 50 yards early in the game.

Sowards was an all-Southeast District Division IV wideout a year ago, as standout running back Michael Stitt suffered an injury at Gallia Academy two weeks back– and was limited to only one carry for 10 yards against South Point.

#
7
Name
Gavin Hunt
Position
2021
Height
6-00
Weight
150
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
Gavin Hunt has become the go-to receiver for quarterback Max Ward, with Ward completing 59-of-105 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns.

Stitt has rushed for 573 yards on 66 carries, while Hunt has 20 receptions for 380 yards.

 

#
3
Name
Michael Stitt
Position
2020
Height
5-08
Weight
155
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019

Kalb said his Trojans must defend the Dragons well – and aim to avoid getting into a track meet on grass.

“I think Fairland, with their athleticism, matches up well with us. We want to make sure we have a good week of practice and stay focused so we don’t come out flat,” he said.

 

But with Parker in the backfield, the Trojans have the best playmaker on board – and they not need Nintendo’s Tecmo Bowl to prove that.

2019 OVC Standings

PosTeamWLPFPANet Pts
17033234298
261277160117
35220418222
4431711674
534134233-99
625188268-80
716140233-93
807112281-169

2019 OVC Leaders (League Only)

RankPlayerTeamPositionATTRUYDSTD
1Talyn ParkerPortsmouth2020115119719
2Kamren HarlessChesapeake20201377925
3Reid CarricoIronton20217068614
4Will ToddChesapeake2020986485
5Austin StapletonCoal Grove20211296315
6Logan HankinsRock Hill20201006195
7James ArmstrongGallia Academy2021866086
8Michael BeasyGallia Academy2021846049

 

 

 

Fighting Tigers on upset alert against Dragons

Ironton vs Fairland

By PAUL BOGGS

Photo’s by Kent Sanborn http://southernohiosportsphotos.com

 

You have to appreciate Melvin Cunningham’s candor.

Head Coach Melvin Cunningham

Current Team
Fairland
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I can remember when I was playing football at Marshall. We go to the movies every Friday night, but we’re trying to sneak out and go watch Ironton play,” the Fairland fifth-year head football coach admitted. “It is what it is. If you are in this area, you know who the Ironton Fighting Tigers are, and now they are back to what the Ironton Fighting Tigers have been.”

 

 

Indeed, what tradition-rich Ironton is now is off to its first 2-0 start since 2012, but what it wants to be following Friday night is in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Thus, the Fighting Tigers are on upset alert against the 2-0 Fairland Dragons, as Friday night’s matchup marks the OVC opener – and the early leg up on the remainder of the conference.

Kickoff inside historic Tanks Memorial Stadium, Ironton’s third consecutive home tilt to open 2019 in fact, is set for 7 p.m.

While both squads are 2-0, it’s Ironton’s opening reviews that are obviously drawing the majority of the attention.

And, for the second straight week, after holding a 3-0 halftime advantage thanks to an Avery Book field goal, the Fighting Tigers prevailed in the second half.

While Wheelersburg (30-6 on Aug. 30) was a second-half rout, Ironton escaped with a 10-0 triumph over visiting Russell (Ky.) last week, as the solid Red Devils suffered their first loss of the season.

Head Coach Trevon Pendleton

Current Team
Ironton
Past Teams
Portsmouth West
“Anytime you beat two clubs that are of that high quality, it’s always good for your program,” said second-year Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton. “But on the flip side of that, I don’t believe we’ve played our best football yet. As coaches, we have to put our kids in the best positions to succeed, starting with me. We need to do a better job of that, especially me as an offensive coordinator. Our defense has played phenomenal, and these guys have a great understanding of leverage, getting many hats to the ball, just being in the right position to make plays.”

The game’s only other score occurred with just three minutes remaining – on a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gage Salyers to Reid Carrico, combined with Book’s extra-point kick.

#
7
Name
Gage Salyers
Position
2020
Height
6-01
Weight
205
Current Team
Ironton
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
Salyers set up the touchdown by running for the first down on a fourth-down play, finding Carrico behind the defense and hitting him in stride at the 5-yard line.

While a Red Devil defensive back knocked the ball out of Carrico’s hands, it wasn’t until after he had already crossed the goal-line.

As the Red Devil defense keyed on the tailback Carrico, and limited Ironton to only 144 rushing yards on 37 carries, Salyers completed 9-of-16 passes for 157 yards – with Carrico catching four for 56.

But the true story of the second Fighting Tiger triumph was similar to its first – special teams and especially defense.

Russell had scored 88 points in its first two games, but against Ironton, anchored by standout senior defensive end Seth Fosson, the Red Devils punted five times and threw two interceptions – getting 67 of their 193 rushing yards on one play.

The Fighting Tigers, which allowed just 40 passing yards, also put together a key first-half goal-line stand.

This week, Ironton faces a Fairland squad that is recognized for its fast-paced spread offensive attack, utilizing its athleticism and getting the ball to its athletes in the open field.

“Fairland has very good athletes, a ton of speed, they like to get the ball out in space,” said Pendleton. “Defensively, we have to tackle in space, trying to get all 11 kids to the ball. We have to play with great effort above all else.”

The Dragons doubled up the Oak Hill Oaks 42-21 last week, scoring 21 consecutive points to stake a 35-7 advantage with nine minutes remaining.

Fairland found its footing with big plays – a Michael Stitt short interception return for a touchdown, a flea-flicker pass for a touchdown, a Stitt 68-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and two pass completions of 43 and 55 yards from quarterback Max Ward to wide receiver Gavin Hunt.

#
7
Name
Gavin Hunt
Position
2021
Height
6-00
Weight
150
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019

The Dragons defeated Tolsia (W. Va.) 34-12 in their season opener, as they have played the first two games without Reilly Sowards – their first-team Division IV all-Southeast District wide receiver from a year ago, who suffered a broken collarbone in the preseason.

But Ironton indeed is a different defensive animal, as evidenced by a 72-yard touchdown run by Wheelersburg’s Makya Matthews for its only points allowed all season.

The Dragons will need to make more big plays, and force the Fighting Tigers into defensive mistakes, if they are to have any amount of success on Friday.

Ironton – given the likes of Fosson, Nate Cochran and Junior Jones along the defensive line and Carrico and Dalton Crabtree at inside linebacker – is an iron wall on the interior.

Then throw in Salyers and Carrico and the fullback Fosson on the offensive side, and you have what Cunningham considers “the best team in the OVC”.

He also praised Pendleton as “the best coach.”

“Best team in the conference. They have the best coaching staff and the best players. They are the best team in our conference and everyone knows it. They are what they are, and we’re just blessed to have an opportunity to go play them at ‘The Tank’. We’re going to prepare and go down there and play the best team on Friday night,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham continued by admitting it would be an upset for Fairland to emerge victorious.

However, the Dragons did just that two years ago, winning 27-21 to become the first Lawrence County club to defeat Ironton at Tanks Memorial Stadium since 1961.

“It was just two years ago that Fairland came down to the ‘Tank’ and beat Ironton. A lot of those kids that are seniors now played as sophomores then. So you know they are going to be amped up to come down and try and knock us off again,” said Pendleton. “We don’t overlook any opponent. We definitely are preparing for a good Fairland team to come down here ready to go.”

Ironton exacted revenge last season, winning in Proctorville 41-23.

So while the Dragons do have history on their side, they are facing THIS Ironton team that is chasing some history of its own.

The Fighting Tigers, since joining the OVC in 2015, are attempting to become the league’s first two-time champion – since the conference expanded to eight schools in 2016 to include Gallia Academy.

The league lost River Valley to the Tri-Valley Conference following the 2013 campaign, but quickly gained Gallia Academy for an even eight schools.

Ironton won the seven-team OVC four years ago (2015) and the eight-team group three years back (2016).

And, the Tigers are indeed the favorite for Friday night’s outcome.

“It would be an upset, I’m telling you it would be an upset. But we’ll be ready and we’ll be prepared to play. We don’t care who we’re playing, just put the ball down and see what happens,” said Cunningham. “We relish challenges and this will be no different.”

Upset or not, the winner will gain a leg up on the remainder of the OVC competition.

Both the Dragons (Waverly) and Fighting Tigers (at Ashland) take on non-league opponents in week four.

“Our OVC opener is early, but a win will give us a head start in the league race,” said Pendleton. “Our goal is to be 1-0 in league play and 3-0 overall after this week.”

 

Celebration of a century

This is the 100th season of Ironton football, and the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce is set to honor the program’s history on Friday night at halftime.

 

Carrico commits to OSU

(Photo by Roger Trammell)

After 34 offers from Football Bowl Subdivision programs, Carrico – the Class of 2021’s top-rated inside linebacker in the country by 247Sports – has chosen to stay home.

That’s because Carrico – a six-foot three-inches tall and 225-pound junior – verbally committed to play college football for Ohio State on Tuesday.

He was the Buckeyes’ number-one linebacker target in all of Ohio.

Carrico reached his decision after speaking with Ohio State linebackers’ coach Al Washington on Sunday night.

“Reid is a very good football player, but more importantly he is a very mature and humble kid. His demeanor hasn’t changed at all,” said Pendleton. “He has been great throughout his entire recruiting process. We’re all very happy for him that he has made this decision and excited for him to have this opportunity.”

Carrico is actually a first-team all-Southeast District Division V running back from last season, and already has 42 carries for 190 yards and four touchdowns in the Fighting Tigers’ two games this year.

 

Prayers for Carpenter

Via Ironton Football Faceook: Please say a prayer for Tayden Carpenter and Family as Tayden was injured in practice tonight and admitted to Bellefonte Hospital where he will be having surgery tomorrow to repair the injury. God Bless him!

#ALLIN
#RTD
#Mission15
#4Strong

Dragons make big plays, double up Oaks

Results

Team1234TOutcome
Oak Hill0701421Loss
Fairland14771442Win

By PAUL BOGGS

 

OAK HILL – The Fairland Dragons, citing head coach Melvin Cunningham’s research, wanted to be at least plus-two in the big-play ratio on Friday night.

Simply put, they were more than just that.

The Dragons defined themselves by such terms as “pick-six”, “flea-flicker” and a “happy return”, scoring touchdowns via way of all three – en route to doubling up the Oak Hill Oaks 42-21 in a non-league football bout at Davis Stadium in Oak Hill.

Fairland’s triumph broke a 14-14 tie in the all-time series, as the Dragons – which defeated Tolsia (W. Va.) 34-12 in their opener – raised their record to 2-0.

Meanwhile, the new-look Oaks, after a 35-13 season-opening loss at Chesapeake, fell to 0-2.

The Dragons did on Friday night what they do best – burn opponents for big plays with their athleticism in open space and also with speed.

“That’s what we’re blessed with. That’s our identity,” said Cunningham. “We try to find different ways to use our athletes to their strengths. We have to do that each week.”

On Friday night, they scored on a short interception return for a touchdown, ran the old-fashioned flea-flicker for a score, and had a kickoff returned to the house for their final TD.

In addition, the Dragons’ defense did its part – stymieing the Oaks to only 59 first-half yards, along with back-to-back three-and-out series’ in building an early 14-0 advantage.

But, big plays were indeed the biggest difference.

“We preach this stat all the time, but 83-percent of the games are won by the teams that are at least plus-two in the big-play department,” said Cunningham. “We focus on making big plays, and tonight we were capable of doing so. They (Oaks) lined up the way we thought they would, and we took advantage. Our receivers did a good job attacking some things we thought we could.”

The backs didn’t do bad, either.

While Michael Stitt rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries, he made his most meaningful impact with a 15-yard interception return for a score, making it 14-0 with Emma Marshall’s second of six successful extra-point kicks.

That was with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening quarter, and immediately answered an Oak Hill interception of Fairland junior quarterback Max Ward at the Oaks’ 8-yard line.

Stitt later capped the Dragons’ scoring with a 68-yard kickoff return with 6:46 remaining, as the Oaks were forced to kick off from their own 20-yard line – following an offsides and a personal-foul penalty.

Oak Hill head coach Paul Carver commented as well about the Green’s good play-making ability.

“We just have to be able to stop those big plays,” he said. “We got them into some 3rd-and-longs, but we have to be prepared for big plays. Fairland is a very athletic team, they can pretty much do anything they want with athletes all over the place. We have to do a better job of getting those athletes down once they get out in space, and not give up so much over the top. They have good wide receivers, and they can run in three or four quarterbacks who can each throw the ball.”

One of those gunslingers was Ward, who started and confidently commanded Fairland’s offense, completing 11-of-18 passes for 163 yards – with five completions and 151 yards going to Gavin Hunt.

On the Dragons’ opening possession, Ward went deep to Hunt on a post pattern on 3rd-and-12, picking up 43 yards on the play from midfield.

Zander Schmidt then took the direct snap at QB, and ran around the left end for a four-yard touchdown run – and a 7-0 lead at the 7:07 mark.

The Dragons drove 65 yards in nine plays, consuming two minutes and 55 seconds off the first-quarter clock.

Schmidt and Hunt then hooked up on a flea-flicker play with a minute left in the second stanza, as Schmidt completed a 23-yard strike to Hunt for a 21-7 Fairland advantage.

That answered a short Oak Hill scoring drive – a nine-play, 36-yard march that ended with a nine-yard touchdown toss from Isaac Morgan to Alec Morgan.

Brock Harden hit the extra-point kick, slicing the Oaks’ deficit in half to 14-7.

It was as close as Oak Hill would get, though, as the Dragons then scored the next 21 points to stake their largest advantage at 35-7 with nine minutes to play.

Following Fairland’s late first-half score, the Dragons then forced a turnover on downs – when Schmidt sacked Morgan for a nine-yard loss to the Oaks’ 41 with four-and-a-half minutes left in the third.

“That was a huge play,” said Cunningham. “Zander Schmidt came off the edge and was able to make a big stop.”

On Fairland’s ensuing series, a Ward pass to Hunt picked up 13 yards and converted 4th-and-12 from the Oaks’ 42, as Stitt scored his rushing touchdown from 20 yards away, making it 28-7 at the 1:55 mark with Marshall’s fourth extra-point try.

“At that juncture, we had missed on a couple of other plays where we overthrew a guy. But when we got that stop, we knew we had to score right there, so we went for it on fourth-down,” said Cunningham. “At that point, we were trying to put the game away.”

And, in fact, you could sense it.

The Oaks then failed on a fake punt attempt at midfield, as Ward went deep to Hunt for 55 yards to the 7-yard-line on the second play following that.

“We have to know situations better and respond to those situations better. We have two fourth downs there, we have to convert those,” said Carver. “It’s little tiny things that add up.”

Hunt then helped his cause by taking the direct snap and scoring – making it 35-7 – as Oak Hill had two late rushing touchdowns, sandwiched around Stitt’s kickoff return.

Stitt also made four receptions for 28 yards, as Schmidt was 2-of-4 passing when Ward wasn’t under center.

The Dragons rushed for just 103 yards on 20 attempts, but threw for 179 and outgained the Oaks by 50 total yards (282-232).

Triston Diltz, the senior fullback and leading rusher for the Oaks, paced the hosts with 69 yards and a 10-yard scoring run on 16 attempts.

Jacob Turner tacked on the final Oak Hill touchdown, and Derrick Boggs booted the extra point with only 33 seconds remaining.

The Oaks’ reserve runners crafted a dozen-play, six-minute and six-second scoring drive, but by then it was too little and too late.

“We told our kids that they were going to move the ball, just the type of offense they run. But we did a pretty good job of tackling tonight,” said Cunningham. “In our conference, the OVC, you have to be good tacklers. You have to tackle well each week. We stress it every single day in some form or fashion.”

 

Speaking of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Dragons return to the road – and open OVC competition, next Friday night at Ironton.

 

The Fighting Tigers – the consensus preseason favorite for the conference championship – are also undefeated, having blanked Russell (Ky) 10-0.

 

Oak Hill hosts Rock Hill, which is also 0-2, on Friday night in another non-league bout.

 

*     *   *

Fairland 42, Oak Hill 21

Fairland 14 7 7 14 – 42

Oak Hill 0 7 0 14 – 21

F — Zander Schmidt, 4-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 7:07, 1st (7-0 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 15-yard interception return (Emma Marshall kick), 2:32, 1st (14-0 F)

OH — Alec Morgan, 9-yard pass from Isaac Morgan (Brock Harden kick), 3:45, 2nd (14-7 F)

F — Gavin Hunt, 23-yard pass from Zander Schmidt (Emma Marshall kick), 1:00, 2nd (21-7 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 20-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 1:55, 3rd (28-7 F)

F — Gavin Hunt, 13-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 9:09, 4th (35-7 F)

OH — Triston Diltz, 10-yard run (Brock Harden kick), 6:57, 4th (35-14 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 68-yard kickoff return (Emma Marshall kick), 6:46, 4th (42-14 F)

OH — Jacob Turner, 2-yard run (Darrick Boggs kick), :33, 4th (42-21 F)

Team statistics

F OH

First downs 13 17

Plays from scrimmage 42 57

Rushes-yards 20-103 50-195

Passing yards 179 37

Total yards 282 232

Cmp-Att-Int. 13-22-1 3-7-1

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0

Penalties-yards 5-20 9-74

Punts-average 2-27.5 2-40

——

Individual Leaders

RUSHINGFairland: Michael Stitt 10-83 TD, J.D. Brumfield 5-13, Gavin Hunt 1-13 TD, Zander Schmidt 1-4 TD, Max Ward 2-(-4), Brennan West 1-(-6); Oak Hill: Triston Diltz 16-69 TD, Keaton Potter 10-46, Noah Donley 10-34, Nate Clutters 5-43, Jacob Turner 3-16 TD, Cameron Kerns 2-13, Isaac Morgan 2-(-3), Team 2-(-23)

PASSINGFairland: Max Ward 11-18-1-163, Zander Schmidt 2-4-0-16 TD; Oak Hill: Darrick Boggs 1-1-0-24, Isaac Morgan 1-4-1-9 TD, Brock Harden 1-1-0-4, Keaton Potter 0-1-0-0

RECEIVING Fairland: Gavin Hunt 5-151 TD, Michael Stitt 4-28, Brennan West 1-9, J.D. Brumfield 2-(-8), Jordan Williams 1-(-1); Oak Hill: Keaton Potter 1-24, Alec Morgan 1-9 TD, Braylon Howell 1-4

Oak Hill

# Offense CMP ATT INT PYDS TD ATT RUYDS TD REC REYDS TD
Triston Diltz0000017691000
Keaton Potter01000104501240
Noah Donley0000010320000
Nate Clutters000005420000
Jacob Turner000003161000
Cameron Kerns000002120000
Isaac Morgan000002-250000
Darrick Boggs110240000000
Brock Harden14191000000
Alec Morgan00000000191
Braylon Howell11040000140
 Total3713714919123371
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA
 Total00000

Fairland

# Offense CMP ATT INT PYDS TD ATT RUYDS TD REC REYDS TD
2J.D. Brumfield0000051302-80
3Michael Stitt00000108314280
5Brennan West2401611-60190
7Gavin Hunt 00000113051511
8Zander Schmidt00000141000
16Max Ward1118116302-40000
6Jordan Williams000000001-10
 Total132211791201032131791
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA
 Total00000

Details

Date Time League Season
September 6, 2019 7:00 pm SEO 2019

Venue

Oak Hill

Dragons seek to win in other ways

Dragons seek to win in other ways

 

By PAUL BOGGS

Photo’s by Kent Sanborn

 

PROCTORVILLE – The number of players – nearly 45 – for the Fairland Dragons doesn’t worry head coach Melvin Cunningham.

What concerns Cunningham is how to replace almost 3,000 yards and exactly 38 touchdowns of total offense.

But, where there is a will, there is indeed a way – and Cunningham’s club intends to find a way to win games this season, despite some key losses from last season’s playoff squad.

After all, Fairland’s fifth-year head coach said his team “expects to win” – no matter who suits up for the Green this year.

“We don’t operate on the word ‘surprise.’ We expect to win and we sell our kids nothing less than that. We have kids that graduate or lose to injury or something else all the time, but we have to find a way to make up for those losses. It doesn’t matter who we are lining up against or how old and experienced we are,” said Cunningham. “We always expect to win and we need to find a way to win.”

For the past four seasons, especially in last year’s 6-4 regular campaign which included a Division IV playoff berth, Joel Lambiotte drove the Dragons’ car with his arm.

Lambiotte, now at Marshall University, landed Division IV third-team all-Ohio quarterback honors – after easily earning first-team all-Southeast District.

His school-record passing numbers didn’t lie either – 153 completions on 238 attempts for 2,370 yards and 27 touchdowns with five interceptions.

He also rushed 74 times for 605 yards and 11 scores.

“Losing a player like Joel obviously has a huge impact. Not only was he a leader and such a good player on the field and worked so hard at his craft, he led off the field by example and was even more impressive at that,” said Cunningham. “We’re going to miss him, but we’ll have to adjust.”

The Dragons also graduated two of Lambiotte’s key linemen – Jacob Rankin and Zeke Ramey.

Fairland was also dealt a serious blow during a preseason scrimmage – when senior wide receiver Reilly Sowards, an all-district first-teamer which caught 49 passes for 635 yards and 10 touchdowns, suffered a broken collarbone.

Should Sowards return, it likely won’t be until late in the year.

That makes fellow first-team all-district wideout Gavin Hunt (6-0, 150, Jr.)

#
7
Name
Gavin Hunt
Position
2021
Height
6-00
Weight
150
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
the Dragons’ top target, although tailback Michael Stitt
#
3
Name
Michael Stitt
Position
2020
Height
5-08
Weight
155
Current Team
Fairland
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019
(5-8, 155, Sr.) returns after catching 41 passes for 510 yards.

Hunt had 762 yards and five touchdowns on 42 receptions last season.

Stitt, as part of Fairland’s spread-the-field attack, added 549 rushing yards for almost eight yards per carry.

Brennan West (5-8, 150, Sr.), who caught 14 passes for 268 yards, will figure much more into the Dragons’ passing plans, as will fullback J.D. Brumfield (5-9, 195, So.) and Tevin Taylor (5-9, 155, So.) and Jordan Williams (6-2, 215, Jr.).

Williams, a speedster transfer from Hurricane (W. Va.), can play either receiver or line up in the backfield.

But as for throwing the football to all these athletes?

Cunningham said that preseason camp has been a three-way battle between six-foot, 162-pound junior Max Ward and sophomores Tyler Sammons and Zander Schmidt.

“A lot of what we do on offense involves the play of the quarterback, and obviously this year, our quarterbacks are young and inexperienced,” said the coach. “We have three guys this year that are all working hard to get better and we believe all three will get better as the season goes along.”

Ward threw five passes last season and Sammons three, while Schmidt transferred in from arch-rival Chesapeake.

“It’s going to take some adjustments to figure out who we are and what we are as a football team, but we’ll figure it out in some kind of way. It’s just like every year. That’s what we do. We know what Hunt and Stitt and even Sowards can do, but there are other guys we are counting on getting the ball to and we expect them to contribute,” said Cunningham. “Last year, Joel (Lambiotte) was the strength of our team, but this year we have depth and ability at other positions that will be our strengths.”

One area the coach anticipates becoming a strength is the offensive line, which right now is young and inexperienced.

“We have a lot of new guys on the line and we have work to do there. They are getting better and progressing each day, but we are young and we need to learn fast. It’s a process, but our offensive line’s goal is to get better each day,” said Cunningham. “A lot of work to do.”

Kyle Rankin (6-2, 200, Sr.) returns as the Dragons’ anchor at guard, while sophomore Casey Hudson (6-3, 210) or senior Colton Tackett (5-10, 190) is the other.

The center candidates are sophomores James Johnson (6-1, 280) and Seth Dement (5-7, 165), while junior Logan Hamlin (6-4, 255) saw some playing time at tackle.

Two other potential tackles are seniors Kobe Newman (6-5, 250) and Jordan Wellman (6-1, 255), as Newman missed all of last year.

Regardless of personnel changes, Fairland’s offensive philosophy remains the same.

“Here at Fairland, we make teams try to cover the entire width of the football field. All 53 yards. We have good athletes that we want to get out in space and find those gaps and use their speed,” said Cunningham. “We want 15 open spaces and force the defense to defend all the width and length of the field.”

The Dragons also aim to utilize their speed on defense – and win the battle of big plays plus turnovers.

“Two stats stand out to us on defense. Creating turnovers and giving up big plays. We want to create turnovers and win at least 80-percent of the big plays. We want to be fast on defense, cause havoc, fly to the football and make good solid tackles,” said Cunningham. “We feel like we have a deep, experienced, speedy and solid defensive team.”

The Dragons’ depth and experience exists within their front seven, as linebackers Brumfield, Blaine Cremeans (6-0, 180, Sr.) and Riley Kazee (5-9, 210, So.) return to anchor the unit.

Cremeans – an all-district Honorable Mention selection – amassed 109 tackles including eight for loss, as Brumfield added 25 pounds and returns on the inside along with Kazee.

“I’ve never coached a kid quite like Blaine Cremeans, who doesn’t say a word but just leads by example and just goes so hard on every single play. His motor and energy are incredible,” said Cunningham. “Then both Brumfield and Kazee are coming off really good freshmen seasons, so we are expecting a lot of big things from them this year.”

The front four feature senior Bryan Defoe (5-8, 150), Rankin, Newman, Hudson and Williams, while Schmidt, Taylor and Rhiyder Slone (5-7, 215, Sr.) are the outside backers.

West will return at safety, headlining three returning starters in the secondary, which also includes the defensive standout Stitt at cornerback along with Hunt.

Stitt was also an all-district Honorable Mention choice.

Gabe Williams and Sam Ward will rotate at cornerback as well.

Blake Sammons is the Dragons’ punter this season, while junior Emma Marshall – a standout cross country runner and girls basketball player – is the placekicker.

“Emma is an exceptional athlete and has really improved,” said Cunningham. “She is doing a good job and working hard and we plan to use her and see what she can do on Friday nights. I’ve never seen a person who didn’t know how to do something and taught herself how to do something and now she’s doing it well. We were talking about kicking one day and she watched a video on how to kick. It started as something funny, but has turned into something serious.”

What isn’t a laughing matter is the Dragons’ competition in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Although Ironton is the consensus preseason favorite, Cunningham knows the entire league will be a difficult challenge.

Head Coach Melvin Cunningham

Current Team
Fairland

“There’s a lot of talent and a lot of good coaches in the OVC right now. It’s going to be so competitive, but Ironton has to be the best team going in,” he said. “Gallia Academy is the defending champion, Rock Hill is going to be good, and Talyn Parker at Portsmouth can win games by himself.”

For Fairland, its edition of Parker was Lambiotte last season.

But this year, the Dragons do expect to win – in other ways.

Fairland 2019 Roster & Stats

#PlayerPositionHeightWeightCMPATTINTPYDSTDATTRUYDSTDRECREYDSTDSacksTacklesINTFGMFGA
1Emma Marshall20215-061250000000000000000
2J.D. Brumfield20225-09195000009344974-1000000
3Michael Stitt20205-08155000001128371118246300000
4Gabe Williams20225-06135000000001-3000000
5Brennan West20205-081502401612-10015155000000
6Jordan Williams20216-0221500000441535000000
7Gavin Hunt20216-0015003000733028467500000
8Zander Schmidt20225-091605152106110-151884100000
9Matt Williams20235-051000000000000000000
10Reilly Sowards20206-021600000000012172200000
11Blake Sammons20236-0016500000000114000000
12Gavin Davis20225-111450000000000000000
15Tyler Sammons20226-0013511014100000000000
16Max Ward20216-0015585146596710816-65013000000
17Melvin Valentine20226-011500000000000000000
18Rhiyder Slone20205-071250000013000000000
20Jacob Craft20225-0912500000420000000000
21Tevin Taylor20225-0915500000221021358000000
22Sam Ward20235-091450000000000000000
23Riley Kazee20225-092100000000000000000
24Bryan Defoe20205-081500000000000000000
26Blaine Creameans20206-001800000000000000000
27Steeler Leep20235-0714000000424000000000
33Kaden Craft20225-051150000000000000000
44Josiah Wyrick20216-002000000000000000000
46Kobe Newman20206-052500000000000000000
50Trey Black20225-071800000000000000000
51Stephen Rhodes20235-071550000000000000000
52Mason Ward20235-071500000000000000000
53Austin Porter20225-091700000000000000000
54Jordan Wellman20206-012550000000000000000
55Seth Dement20225-071650000000000000000
56Casey Hudson20226-032100000000000000000
59Dylan Holley20235-061500000000000000000
62Colton Tackett20205-102200000000000000000
63Donnie Nolan20235-061450000000000000000
65Kyle Rankin20206-022000000000000000000
74Logan Hamlin20216-042550000000000000000
75Nick Night20236-002850000000000000000
78James Johnson20226-012800000000000000000
80Sam Dudley20226-061850000000000000000
99Cody Nolan20205-082000000000000000000

Click here for the Fairland Roster, Schedule, Results and Stats