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Fort Frye defense looks to limit big plays against Africentric

Photo by Joe Albright Fort Frye’s Eli Johnson (20) and Braden Medley (87) pressure Belpre quarterback Walker Feick (7) during a high school football playoff game last week in Beverly.

BEVERLY — As Fort Frye rolls deeper and deeper into the postseason, head coach Eric Huck said the Cadets will continue to lean on their defense.

The Fort D has recorded back-to-back shutouts and has allowed more than seven points in a game just one time.

This week, the Cadets will take on Africentric at 7 p.m. Friday in the Division VI, Region 23 quarterfinals. The Nubians (4-1) are coming off an overtime win over Buckeye Trail.

“They are very athletic and they have a lot of good skill players,” Huck said. “They make some big plays. They’re offense is more around the big play than long, sustained drives.”

Africentric’s football program is just 18 years old, and this is the first season the Nubians have participated in the playoffs. Huck said their offensive attack is fairly balanced, although they “may run the ball a little more than they throw it,” he said.

Against a team that relies so much on hitting big plays, Huck said Fort Frye’s defense will have to wrap up.

“I think we have to be sure tacklers,” he said. “We all have to rally to the football, and everybody needs to take good pursuit angles. We have to play hard and get to the football.”

Fort Frye has All-Ohioans all over its defense, led by senior linebacker Dylan Hart. Hart has a team-leading 63 tackles and is the kind of player offenses have to account for on every play.

Defensive end Braden Medley is another problem for opposing offense. Medley leads the Cadets with seven sacks. Last week, he recovered a fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown in 54-0 win over Belpre. Brady Kutscherenko (four sacks), Casey Brooker (three sacks), Jaymison Baker (five interceptions) and Nic Hart (four interceptions) are just some of the other players to watch when the Cadets are on D.

It all starts with defensive coordinator Chad Ross, who calls the plays for one of the best defensive units in the state.

“He makes all the calls,” Huck explained. “We all coach defensive positions, but he makes the calls. On weekends when we meet, we all have some input, but ultimately it’s his call and he does a great job with it.

“He’s been extremely important. I can focus more on other things and not have to feel like I have to run everything. It’s not just Chad, though. It’s all the coaches. They all do their part. Kevin Welsh helps me with the offense. He does a great job as well. I’m fortunate to have a lot of good coaches.”

Offensively, expect Fort Frye to run right at the Nubians, with some strategic passing mixed in.

“Defensively, they’re aggressive,” Huck said of Africentric. “They like to stunt and blitz.”

Owen Brown (54 carries, 423 yards, 7 touchdowns), Brian Adkins (65-389-5), Maeson Long (43-335-3) and Collin Welsh (59-263-3) all get a steady dose of carries during a given game.

Quarterback Ian Ellis leads the passing game. He’s completed 67% of his passes this season for 722 yards, seven TDs and four interceptions. Baker (13 catches, 227 yards, two TDs) is his leading receiver.

“We have to be able to pick up their stunts and move the ball consistently,” Huck said. “We’ve seen teams move the ball on them, but they have trouble picking up the blitz and the offense stalls.”

A win for the Cadets would put them in the regional semifinals, taking on the winner of Lucasville Valley/Barnesville.

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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