Cadets moved the ball at will in playoff opener
BEVERLY — Fort Frye High moved the ball pretty much at will in its 34-14 triumph over visiting Milford Center Fairbanks in an opening-round OHSAA Division IV, Region 23 playoff game Friday night.
The undefeated Cadets (10-0) amassed 499 yards of total offense, 271 rushing and 228 passing, and recorded 21 first downs en route to the victory.
“We had a good game plan,” said FFHS senior quarterback Tate Engle. “Our game plan is always we’re going to line up and run you over. But sometimes, we’ll hit them over the top. So, we had a great game plan. Coach (Eric Huck) did a great job of mixing up the play-calling. We executed really well and came out with the win.”
Engle himself never looked sharper, completing 14 of 23 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, one in each quarter.
“Tate threw the ball really well,” Huck said. “We thought we could get him some different things, and it was working. Thank goodness.
“Tate knows what he’s looking for. He’s a heckuva quarterback.”
Engle, not surprisingly, gave all the credit to those Cadets in the trenches and his receivers.
“Our offensive line played really, really well,” he said. “And our receivers made a lot of plays on the ball to help me out a bunch. It really helps with the quarterback’s confidence.”
Fort’s O-line featured center Dylan Hart, guards Nate Brothers and Isiah Jones, and tackles Hunter Stoffell and Colby Sleek.
As for the receivers, Fort Frye junior Brady Schilling had a career game with six receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns of 49 and 23 yards. He also had a two-point conversion catch.
Sophomore Brian Adkins added five receptions for 57 yards and two TDs each of 11 yards.
“Both (Schilling and Adkins) played really, really well,” Engle said. “I wouldn’t have had a touchdown pass if it wasn’t for both of them. They both made a lot of plays and made a lot of yards after the catch to help me out. They did a hell of a job.”
And, let’s not forget junior Zane Greenleaf, either. All he did was make three catches for 51 yards.
On the ground, the Fort was its usual dominating self with Evan Schob rushing for 119 yards on 13 carries and Tyler Fisher 80 yards on 17 attempts and one TD of 11 yards.
“I thought we had better balance tonight than we usually do,” Huck said. “We threw the ball really well, but we could also run the ball. It was good balance.”
“We were outsized up front, but our offensive line did a great job blocking for us,” the coach continued. “We were able to run the ball and control the game. And, that’s exactly what we had to do to win, because their offense is really explosive.”
Fairbanks (7-4) finished with 320 total yards and also had decent balance, but it was not nearly as good as Fort Frye’s.
“That’s a good football team,” said Huck of the Panthers. “So, for us to do that on offensive is big.”
“Our defense held them to 14 points, and that was big, too.”
Both Caden Fryman and Fisher had first half picks. Fisher’s came in the end zone late in the second quarter with the Cadets trailing 7-6.
“That was huge in the end zone, because it looked like they (Panthers) were about to score,” Huck said. “That was a big interception.”
After the game, Fisher was awarded “the money belt” for that interception.
Capitalizing on the turnover, Fort marched down the field and regained the lead on Engle’s scoring strike to Adkins with no time left on the clock.
“That was huge in the end zone, because it looked like they (Panthers) were about to score,” Huck said. “That was a big interception.
“We were trying to use that clock wisely (just before halftime), so that they couldn’t get the ball back. And it worked out for us.”
Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org