Top-seeded Fort Frye opens playoffs at home against Belpre Saturday
BEVERLY — Each of the last four seasons, Fort Frye has won at least one playoff game.
The Cadets open postseason play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Belpre, and they’re hoping a win over the Golden Eagles will jumpstart a deep run into the Division VI, Region 23 tournament.
“We’re excited to be playing in the playoffs,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck. “Hopefully we’re at home for multiple weeks after only having two regular season home games.”
Fort finished the regular season with a perfect 6-0 record. Five of those six wins were against teams who currently have a winning record. Their latest win was two weeks ago against three-time defending W.Va. Class A state champion Wheeling Central by a score of 33-0.
“I thought our defense played really well again,” Huck said of the win over the Maroon Knights. “I thought our offense was clicking on all cylinders. That’s a good combination against a good Central team.”
The Cadets, the top seed in Region 23 and ranked No. 3 overall in D6, earned a bye in the first round.
“You treat it a little bit different than a game week,” Huck said. “There’s not as much contact in practice. We work a lot on those little things that could be big down the road for us, and a lot on special teams and things like that.”
This week, the focus is on a Belpre team which has three wins to four losses.
“They’re big up front,” Huck said. “They’re a team that has a lot of seniors on both sides of the ball. I know they want to play hard. They have skill players who are really good, and we know we have to rally to them and gang tackle and slow down.”
Belpre is led offensively by Connor Baker, who has experience running and passing. Walker Feick also gets center snaps — both he and Baker completed three passes and had one touchdown last week. The Golden Eagles took down Alexander 19-14 in a regular season game. Baker rushed for 63 yards, caught two passes for 43 yards and passed for 50 yards, accounting for three total touchdowns. Ashton Yeater had a pair of interceptions on defense.
Even though the Cadets and Golden Eagles did not meet this year, they are far from strangers.
Belpre defeated Fort Frye 35-21 in 2014, but since the Cadets have won five straight games against the Golden Eagles. All of those games were season openers.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we do,” Huck said. “I feel like our offense can take advantage of whatever a defense is giving us. They are big up front and pretty aggressive. We have to do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.”
In the six-game regular season, Fort Frye quarterback Ian Ellis competed 44 of 66 passes for 608 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Cadets have a balanced running attack, starting with Owen Brown’s 50 carries, 379 yards and six touchdowns. Brian Adkins has rushed 60 times for 310 yards and four TDs while Mason Long has carried 38 times for 280 yards and three scores. Collin Welsh (55-229-3) is another strong option out of the backfield.
Jaymison Baker caught 12 passes for 164 yards and a TD to lead the Fort Frye receiving unit. Brown, Long, Adkins and Nic Hart are also threats in the passing game.
Defensively, Fort Frye surrendered only 39 points all season. The stingy group is led by linebacker Dylan Hart, who has a team-high 57 tackles to go along with four sacks. Defensive end Braden Medley leads the team with seven sacks, while Baker grabbed five interceptions.
The Cadets have set a high standard for themselves with their past postseason success. Huck said the team is just going to take the playoffs one game at a time, but there are goals they are hoping to accomplish.
“We set our team goals and we have them up on the white board in the locker room,” he said. “Every year before the season the coaches meet with the seniors and we talk about all those goals they want to accomplish. We really can’t focus on those, though. We just have to focus every day on getting better and taking it one game at a time.”
Jordan Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.