Cadets crush Dragons for regional championship
BEVERLY – The Fort Frye Cadets are on to the Final Four.
The No. 1 seed in the Division VI, Region 23 tournament took care of business, dominating visiting Fairland 47-7 Saturday night to claim the regional championship.
“It means just about everything,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck, who guided the Cadets to their first ever regional title in 2018. “It’s big, really big for our program to be able to get another one. We talk about that with these guys all the time. It’s one of those goals that we’ve had, and for these seniors to get this on their home field is something special.”
The Cadets amassed 452 yards of total offense, including 354 on the ground on 9.1 yards per carry. They also held a high-powered Fairland offense to just one score, a 69-yard touchdown pass from Max Ward to Gavin Hunt at the 7:52 mark in the second quarter. Fort also forced Fairland into four turnovers.
“We thought they were a very good football team, and they are,” Huck said. “They’ve got some really good athletes, good players and a good scheme. We just beat a good football team. Really proud of our guys. They came out ready to play. They played their hearts out. I did not see that coming quite like that.”
The Cadets wasted no time, scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions. The first two were by Brian Adkins on runs of 2 and 4 yards to make it 13-0. Owen Brown ran for a 47-yard scoring run to make it 21-0, and Maeson Long’s 14-yard TD rush had Fort Frye up 27-0 with 8:47 left in the second.
Fairland finally got some momentum when Ward and Hunt connected on the long score, but Fort Frye scored on the first play of its ensuing drive, a 52-yard TD pass from Ian Ellis to Adkins, to make it 33-7 and quickly regain control.
Long scored a 6-yard rushing touchdown to make it 41-7 at halftime, and Adkins’ 7-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the second half added the exclamation point.
Long rushed 12 times for 130 yards while Adkins added 105 yards on 12 carries. Huck credited the offensive line for paving the way for Fort Frye’s success in the ground game.
“That’s what we told our guys is we need to dominate up front to win this game,” Huck said. “It was to stop the running back on defense, and on offense we’ve got to be able to control the ball and keep it out of their hands. We did that very well. Our offensive line, it’s one of the best offensive lines I’ve coached.”
Ellis threw just four times in the game, completing three passes for 98 yards. He was intercepted once by Steeler Leep.
Ward completed 13 of 24 passes for 183 yards for the Dragons. Hunt caught five of those passes for 119 yards. Running back J.D. Brumfield was held to 16 yards on nine carries.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on (Hunt),” Huck said. “He did have a big touchdown catch. He’s a heck of a player. Brumfield is really good as well. We did a great job bottling him up all night. That was our goal was to stop him and try to slow down their passing game. I thought our defense did a great job.”
Ward was sacked once by Braden Medley and was picked off twice, once by Adkins and once by Jay Baker. Ethan Dusky also had a pick for the Cadets.
“I thought our defense did a great job getting three and outs to get us the ball back,” said Huck, who Cadets improved to 10-0 on the year.
Fairland finished with an 8-2 mark.
Fort Frye now will turn its attention to the state semifinals, where it will take on Springfield, which defeated Norwayne 52-48 Saturday. The location is to be determined.
“These guys don’t want to be done,” Huck said. “This was a goal, but they’ve had bigger goals. This is great, but they’re looking ahead and they’re going to work hard this week to represent in the final four.”