Fort Frye, Northmor to face off in 2017 rematch

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Fort Frye’s Zane Greenleaf, left, runs with the ball during a high school football playoff game against Fairbanks Friday in Beverly.

BEVERLY — No. 2-seeded Fort Frye (10-0) has a really good idea of what it will take to beat the third-seeded Northmor Golden Knights (10-1) in Friday night’s Ohio Division VI, Region 23 semifinal at Watkins Memorial Ascena Field in Pataskala.

As a matter of fact, a little more than a full year ago the Cadets scored a touchdown in the final seconds of the game at home to win a thrilling 6-0 decision over Northmor to advance to the 2017 regional semi.

With both teams coming into Friday night’s showdown averaging over 30 points per game, it’s hard to imagine this year’s contest being a low scoring one once again.

Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck was quite pleased with the way his team played in last week’s 34-14 win over Fairbanks and knows it will take another effort just like that one to get past Northmor.

“I was really proud of the way we played last week. We made the big plays when we needed to against a very good football team,” said Huck, in his 11th season as Fort Frye head coach. “We were very balanced and our defense played exceptional to allow just 14 points to a high powered offense.”

Fort Frye got a huge game from quarterback Tate Engle last week as the senior signal caller passed for four touchdown passes including two apiece to Brady Schilling and Brian Adkins.

“Tate played a great game…. He’s making throws without having to think about them and it seems like the game has really slowed down for him,” said Huck of Engle, who has led his team to a win in 42 of his 46 career starts at quarterback. “He’s playing at a high level and throwing our guys open. He’s a key factor in our success.”

Senior full back Evan Schob led the Cadets in rushing against Fairbanks with 119 yards on 13 carries while all-purpose back Tyler Fisher rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

The Cadets are averaging over 39 points per game while allowing only 12.

Defensively, the Fort has gotten strong play all season long from their line as evidenced by the sack totals of Isiah Jones, Braden Medley and Brenden Huck who have six, five and four respectively.

Dylan Hart leads Fort Frye in tackles with 94 followed by Schob with 72 and Huck with 71.

In last year’s playoff opener against Northmor, the Cadets came up with a huge stop late in the game when Schilling intercepted a pass at the goal line that prevented the Knights from taking the lead with 43 seconds to play.

Schilling returned the interception 42 yards and then hauled in a pair of Engle passes in the closing seconds including a 26-yarder with seven seconds to play that gave the Cadets the thrilling victory.

Although Northmor graduated their best player from a season ago in Demetrius Johnson, they are still a very dangerous offensive team led by junior running back Conor Becker.

“They have a great back in number 15 (Becker). He runs hard and also has great speed in the open field and can turn a five or 10-yard run into a big play,” said Huck after reviewing the game film of the Knights, who advanced to Friday’s game with a 28-16 win over Chillicothe Southeastern. “They like to spread you out to run but they also have a good quarterback and some big targets.”

Becker ran for a pair of touchdowns and also scored a third time on a bubble screen from quarterback Hunter Mariotti, who also connected with tight end Blake Miller for the Knights’ other touchdown.

While Fort Frye owns a pair of wins over playoff teams in Waterford and Fairbanks, the Golden Knights have downed two teams that reached the playoffs as well in Southeastern and Lucas.

The Cadets managed to get the win last season against Northmor despite turning the ball over five times, something they cannot afford to repeat Friday night in Pataskala.

In addition to taking care of the football and controlling the clock, Huck feels the team that controls the game in the trenches will be the one that moves on to the regionals.

“Physicality and being able to control the line of scrimmage will be huge,” said Huck. “We are both teams geared around the run so the team that can run the ball offensively and stop the run on defense will have a great chance.”

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday night with a near 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast.