Fort Frye set to host Dalton ‘gang’ Friday night in first round
BEVERLY — Since the Fort Frye senior football players started playing in the fourth grade, they have lost only three regular season games — one in the seventh grade, one in the eighth grade, and one in the 10th grade.
In both their junior and senior varsity seasons, they were on Cadet teams with a combined 19-0 regular season mark. Overall, counting the postseason since their freshmen year, they have a combined 44-4 record or .917 winning percentage.
Now, Brady Schilling, Tyler Fisher, Caden Fryman, Zane Wallace, Kadin Six and Isiah Jones are hoping to close out their prep gridiron careers on a high note with another competitive run in the OHSAA Division VI, Region 21 playoffs.
At 7 p.m. Friday, those six seniors and their Cadet teammates, the third seed, are scheduled to host the sixth-seeded Dalton “gang” in what could be an opening-round shootout.
“We’re definitely looking forward to hosting a first-round game,” said FFHS head coach Eric Huck, whose Cadets are undefeated at 10-0 this fall, “because we knew whoever we played in our region was going to be very good. And Dalton is definitely very good.”
The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 9-1 record.
Fort Frye, undefeated in four of the last five regular seasons, has been a playoff qualifier for five straight years and seven of the last eight.
“They have a great football program, but we feel it’s going to be a good football game Friday night,” said Dalton boss Broc Dial.
“We’ve watched a lot of film of Dalton to see what they do and what they’re good at,” the Cadet coach said. “And, they are very athletic on both sides of the football with lots of speed.”
Dial said that the Bulldogs “do have good team speed.”
“We probably pass more than run,” he added. “We like the catch and run plays.”
Fort Frye, on the other hand leans more to the run on offense, especially with a rugged line that includes sophomore left tackle Casey Brooker, senior left guard Isiah Jones, junior center Dylan Hart, junior right guard Braden Medley, senior right tackle Kadin Six and junior tight end Eric Isner.
“On film, their linemen are physical and like to pound the ball,” Dial said. “The backs run out of the Wing-T, and they execute.
“We’re going to have to match Fort Frye’s physicality and read our keys.”
Said Huck, “I believe one of the keys to the game will be which team controls the line of scrimmage. Dalton has a lot of quickness up front.”
This season, Fort has had a one-two punch in the backfield with the 5-10, 170-pound Fisher rushing for 1,012 yards on 121 carries and 18 touchdowns and the 5-9, 150-pound Wallace gaining 814 yards on 64 attempts and nine TDs. With multi-talented junior Brian Adkins back in action after a hand injury earlier in the season, the Cadets could be a force to be reckoned with on the ground.
Then, there’s 5-10, 175-pound sophomore Collin Welsh, who, during Adkins’ absence, rushed for 399 yards on 65 yards and nine 6-pointers.
Dalton could stack the box on defense, but the thing is, the Cadets can also throw the ball.
Fort sophomore quarterback Ian Ellis has completed 58 of 87 passes for 1,070 yards. Think about that for a moment. The right-handed throwing Ellis has connected on almost 7 out of 10 throws in his first season as a varsity starter. And, he’s only had three passes intercepted.
The 6-2, 175-pound Schilling has been Ellis’ primary target with 25 receptions for 539 yards and six touchdowns. Fisher has 210 receiving yards and three scores, while Wallace has 170 and two.
Defensively, the Cadets are led by the hard-hitting Hart, who leads the team with 95 tackles, 18 for a loss. Jones has 64, 23 for a loss; Fryman, 55, 8 for a loss; and Thomas Lenhart, 43, 23 for a loss.
Sophomore David Kitts will be handling the Fort’s kicking chores.
Dalton will be quarterbacked by 5-11, 165-pound Adam Bidlack, one of three seniors on the roster. Bidlack passed for 397 yards and four TDs in the Bulldogs’ last regular-season game against rival Rittman.
Senior Tyler Baer, junior Adam Jarrett, junior Dillon Horst and sophomore Jaiden Malone will be Bidlack’s featured targets.
“Dalton has the ability to score, so we’re going to have to limit the big plays,” Huck said. “They have a good quarterback and four good receivers. So, we’re also going to have to tackle well.”
Needless to say, Fort will need to apply pressure on the QB. But make no mistake about it, the Bulldogs can run the ball.
Against Rittman, Dalton also had 211 yards on the ground with Jaden Schlabach and Jarrett combining for 108 yards and a couple of TDs.
Austin Troyer, an outside linebacker, is the third senior on the Bulldog squad.
And, Adam Knetzer does the kicking.
“He made a 24-yard field goal in a game for us this season,” Dial said.
Ron Johnston can be reached at email@example.com