Waterford visits Fort Frye in annual rivalry showdown Friday
FFHS has won last 10 meetings
BEVERLY — Waterford High will be on the “road” at Fort Frye High at 7 p.m. Friday night.
That’s almost laughable considering the two arch-rivals are maybe a mile or so apart and are separated by the Muskingum River.
Someone once said that if the two schools ever consolidated, it would be named Water-Frye.
In any event, it’s still technically an away football game on the slate for the Wildcats, but only because they’ll be competing on the Cadets’ gridiron this year. Look for a sea of both green (Waterford) and red (Fort Frye) at the Beverly venue.
Last season, the annual contest was played on Wildcat Field at the Waterford Elementary School, and the visiting Cadets had to stage a second half rally to win 23-19.
Fort has now prevailed in 10 straight rivalry games.
In last year’s game, Fort Frye never led in the opening half, and trailed Waterford at the break, 19-16. But in the second half, the Cadets exercised ball control on the ground and ran the clock — and scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on Tyler Fisher’s 8-yard run early in the third period.
“The ability to run the football is what wins ballgames,” said Fort head coach Eric Huck after the game.
Fort Frye’s time of possession in the contest was an astounding 36 minutes. Waterford only had the ball for two offensive possessions in the second half, and ended up punting on both occasions.
“They (Cadets) made some adjustments obviously, and they had some time-consuming drives on offense in the second half,” said Wildcat boss Eric McCutcheon afterwards. “That’s for sure. And we couldn’t get a stop. Our kids fought hard. They played hard.”
As the season progressed, both Waterford and Fort Frye became the only two schools in Washington County to clinch postseason berths in Ohio Division VII and VI, respectively.
That again is one of the goals this season, and so far, so good as the Wildcats and Cadets are both undefeated at 2-0.
Waterford has lopsided wins against Sciotoville East (55-0) and South Gallia (41-6), while Fort drilled both Belpre (42-14) and Northridge (37-6).
“This is game number three on our schedule and we can’t wait to see how we compete against a very good playoff team,” McCutcheon said.
Waterford will be quarterbacked by senior Peyten Stephens, who passed for 111 yards on four completions and two touchdowns in the 2017 game. On defense, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Wildcat also recovered a fumble, which led to a score.
This season, Stephens’ primary receiving targets have been George “Doc” Pantelidis, Zane Heiss, Nick Fouss, and Rhys Thatcher.
Look, though, for Stephen to be handing off mostly to running back Braden Bellville. In last year’s contest, the 6-foot, 205-pound Bellville rushed for 87 yards, most of which came in the first half, and scored two TDs, one running and one receiving.
So far this fall, Bellville has gained 230 yards on 26 carries and scored five touchdowns.
“We have our work cut out for us defensively,” Huck said. “They have a very good running back and a quarterback who has multiple receivers who can run the ball as well.”
The Wildcats also have a dangerous kickoff returner in freshman Holden Dailey, who ran one back at South Gallia. In the opener against East, he scored two rushing touchdowns.
Taking center snaps for Fort Frye will be Tate Engle. The 5-8, 180-pound senior signal caller has helped the Cadets compile an amazing 31-1 regular-season (34-4) record since his freshman season.
“I’m just happy to be involved,” Engle said. “We have a tight group, and we have a lot of fun.”
In last year’s showdown versus Waterford, Engle threw for 117 yards on five completions and one TD — and two 2-point conversion passes. So far this season, he’s completed 20 of 29 throws for 326 yards and four TDs.
Engle has all kinds of receivers and ground-gainers to support him. Against Northridge, Brady Schilling had six receptions for 97 yards and Fisher four for 71. Brian Adkins added three catches for 71 yards and two TDs.
In the backfield, the 5-8. 190-pound Evan Schob, 6-foot, 214-pound Draeden Turner, and speedy Fisher figure to get most of the carries. Schob rushed for 122 yards and two TDs against Belpre in the season opener.
“Coach Huck and his staff are doing a very good job of developing players and have playmakers all over the field — and we will have to contain them,” McCutcheon said. “We as well have a very competitive group with lots of playmakers which should make an exciting contest.”
Added Huck, “Offensively, we can’t turn the ball over and need to be balanced.”
In last year’s game, Fort hurt itself with three first-half turnovers.
Defensively for the Cadets, keep an eye on junior noseguard 5-7, 188-pound Isiah Jones. He’s very capable of creating a lot of havoc in an opponent’s backfield.
“For us, we have to block, tackle, play with passion and leave it all on the field,” McCutcheon said. “We have to take care of the ball and make good decisions.”
Said Engle, “Waterford’s a really good team, and they’re well-coached. Eric McCutcheon’s done a great job. The game’s very important to both schools, and we’ve just been fortunate the last couple of years.”