AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – At Austintown Fitch, it’s all about consistency on the football field, as the Falcons haven’t suffered a losing season since 2007.
“They know what’s expected,” head coach Phil Anarella said. “They know what to do. And when you can play mistake-free — whether it’s on offense or defense, especially in high school — you got a better chance at either moving the ball or stopping the other team. So, that’s our goal all of the time.”
Moving the ball should not be a problem — enter senior running backs Jakari Lumsden and last year’s leading rusher Randy Smith: the Falcons’ version of thunder and lightning.
“We never used the term together,” Lumsden said. “But everybody knows that’s how it is with us. He’s the quickness and I’m the power.”
“He’s the bruising back and I’m the speed back,” Smith said. “I like to get in the hole and cut. He likes to power back and run people over. So it’s a good combination. You can’t game plan for both of us. You gotta stop one or the other. And we can both hurt you either way.”
That tandem is joined by Joey Zielinski, who is back at quarterback.
An all-conference linebacker last fall, he’ll help anchor a defense that has held opponents to an average of 17 points or less in six of the past seven seasons.
“We’re flying around,” Zielinski said. “That’s the big thing that we emphasize. It’s gonna be tough to block us. We’ve got a lot of quick guys. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. So I think that’s what I’m excited about.”
But it won’t be an easy road to Week 11 for the Falcons. They have state-power Hudson, Warren Harding, Massillon and Cardinal Mooney all on the schedule.
“I think, if anything, it excites us more to get to play the toughest competition that we can,” Zielinski said. “That’s why we come to Fitch — to play these tough teams and to be a part of this program. So, I mean, it gets us really excited.”
“We’ve always been small,” Lumsden said. “That’s never stopped us from going against bigger teams and accepting the challenge.”
“I just know that we’re not gonna back down,” Smith said. “We’re gonna play for four quarters hard, and we’re gonna come at you every play. You’re bigger than us, but we’re still gonna come at you.”