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Fairland is Fort Frye’s final hurdle to get to state semifinals

Photo by Jordan Holland Fort Frye’s Ian Ellis (10), Brian Adkins (21) and Kaleb Bailey (53) combined to bring down Barnesville’s Ayden Hannahs (2) after an interception Saturday in Beverly.

BEVERLY — The Fort Frye Cadets have one last hurdle to jump before claiming the Division VI, Region 23 championship.

They’ll entertain Fairland at 7 p.m. Saturday with a spot in the state semifinals on the line. Fort Frye is a perfect 9-0 while the Dragons come in at 8-1. Fairland defeated Coal Grove 27-12 in the regional semi, and its only loss this season was to Gallia Academy, 47-43.

The Cadets blanked Barnesville 34-0 last Saturday. They’ve outscored opponents 139-12 in three postseason games.

“We’re excited that we’re playing on our field again,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck. “It’s been one of those goals we’ve been looking at for a long time, and it’s next week.”

Fort Frye’s defense, which has allowed just 51 points all season (5.7 per game), faces one of its biggest challenges to date in Fairland.

The Dragons, led by head coach Melvin Cunningham, have yet to score less than 27 points in a game. Running back J.D. Brumfield anchors the offense, having rushed 114 times for 828 yards. He’s also a threat in the passing game, which is led by quarterback Max Ward. Ward has 27 passing touchdowns this season, having completed 60% of his attempts. The bulk of those throws have gone to Gavin Hunt, who has 45 receptions for 958 yards.

Fort Frye’s secondary, which is led by Jay Baker and Nic Hart (five interceptions apiece), figures to be tested again this week.

Ward will have to make quick decisions as the Cadets’ pass rush doesn’t take long to get home. They’ve sacked opposing quarterbacks 30 times, led by Braden Medley’s seven and Brady Kutscherenko’s six.

The Cadets have been able to move the ball effectively on the ground all season and will look to do the same this week.

Owen Brown is the team’s leading rusher as 69 carries, 557 yards and nine touchdowns. Maeson Long is another big threat with 54 carries, 495 yards and six TDs. Brian Adkins (74-442-6) and Collin Welsh (75-397-5) five Fort Frye a plethora of weapons out of the backfield.

Quarterback Ian Ellis has completed 60 of 90 pass attempts for 912 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Baker is the leading receiver with 17 catches for 322 yards.

A win Saturday would give Fort Frye its second regional championship in program history. The first came two years ago in 2018, when the Cadets knocked off Shadyside, 18-16. That team lost to eventual state champion Kirtland in the state semifinals.

Fort Frye has won 21 consecutive games in Beverly dating back to a 6-0 loss to Northridge at home on Sept. 1, 2017. The Cadets’ last home playoff loss came on Nov. 7, 2015. That was a 13-0 setback to Fredericktown.

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

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