By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Last week it was one thing after another for Fairmont Senior.
First a botched snap. Then a missed field goal. Several strong carries from running back Anthony Bonamico and a few more missed assignments later, Fairmont Senior was dealt its first loss of the season, a 37-14 defeat at Bridgeport.
“Things just snowballed,” Fairmont Senior coach J.L. Abbott said.
This Friday, the Polar Bears (4-1; 4-1 Big 10) will try to keep that snowball from rolling out of control when they travel to Frankfort for a 7:30 p.m. game.
While the blowout loss to a Big 10 opponent stings, the Polar Bears have no time to lick their wounds. They will be tested yet again as they close out a four-game road stand against a formidable Frankfort (5-0) foe.
“(The Bridgeport) game is behind us,” quarterback Austin Norman said. “We’ve got to forget about it and get ready to roll.”
The Polar Bears have numerous shortcomings to forget.
Last week, the Polar Bear defense uncharacteristically surrendered 37 points. Through the first four games of the season, the unit had only allowed 46 combined points, many of which came with the junior varsity closing out blowout victories.
Fairmont Senior will have to get the defense back on track quickly. Unbeaten Frankfort has outscored opponents by a combined margin of 216-82.
The Polar Bears will also be looking to get their running game going again. Noah Harmon was averaging 183 yards per game coming into last Friday’s matchup with Bridgeport, but the Indians limited him to just 56 yards on 15 carries.
More than anything, though, tonight’s game will test Fairmont Senior’s toughness and ability to respond to adversity.
Abbott said his team will be ready to bounce back.
“Our kids are tough,” Abbott said. “We’ll come back and we’ll be ready to go for Frankfort.”
North Marion playing for second straight win
Last week North Marion celebrated its first win of the season, a 25-22 victory over country rival East Fairmont. While the Huskies are pleased to finally put a notch in the win column, coach Daran Hays isn’t letting the celebration linger too long.
“We've got a lot of things to work on,” he said after the game. “We'll have to play a lot better, especially the next two or three (games) if we want to have a chance to win.”
The Huskies (1-5, 1-4 Big 10) will look improve their play— as well as their record— tonight when they host to Lewis County. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Husky Field.
The Minutemen (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) enter the contest winners of four straight, including shutout victories over Lincoln County (59-0) and Herbert Hoover (21-0). Lewis County’s lone loss came back in week one to AAA University High.
Hays summed Lewis County’s success up rather concisely.
“Lewis County is solid,” he said. “We've got a four-game stretch of really good teams coming up.”
The Huskies will continue to rely on their run-heavy offense centered around running backs Austin Stanley and Ryan Elliott and fullback J.J. Rogers. Hays said the system is what his athletes know and do best.
“We have a two running back tandem with a couple of fullbacks that can run trap and a line,” he said. “That's probably our strong point — blocking straight ahead, run blocking.”
The Huskies are hoping the ground-oriented offense will help them make a late run in the final weeks of the season. Hays said North Marion will make adjustments and continue to build for the future.
“If we're hanging out hat on 1-9, we're not a very good football team,” Hays said. “We've got to keep improving.”
The Bees host Robert C. Byrd
After a thrilling 28-21 overtime victory in week one at Liberty, East Fairmont (1-4, 1-3 Big 10) has dropped four straight.
The Bees will try to get back in the win column tonight when they host Robert C. Byrd at 7:30 p.m. at East-West Stadium.
“It's not for lack of effort,” East Fairmont coach Bill Haddox said of the recent slide. “They play hard and they try hard.”
East Fairmont will have to play both hard and well to defeat the Eagles.
Robert C. Byrd (3-3, 3-2 Big 10) has had an up and down season. Projected as one of the top 10 teams in the state coming into the season, the Eagles have earned victories over some challenging opponents like one-loss Lincoln. But they’ve also faltered in losses to Fairmont Senior and Bridgeport.
The Eagles, like many teams in high school football, pride themselves on a power rushing attack.
“They're not a real explosive team, but they can be,” Haddox said. “They're not a great passing team, but they can pass.”
Robert C. Byrd’s ground-and-pound identity has been questioned after losing running back Ben D’Annunzio to a collar bone injury in the first game of the season against Fairmont Senior. Regardless, the physical style of play should present some challenges for East Fairmont. The Bees have had their hands full against other run-heavy offenses this season, including losses at Nicholas County and again last week at North Marion.
“Every week size is a problem for us,” Haddox said. “Just like every team we play, RCB is bigger than us.”
While Robert C. Byrd may be bigger, Haddox is hoping his team is better. He said cutting down on mistakes and playing fundamentally sound defense will go a long way toward securing the Bees’ second win of the season.
“Probably our biggest enemy is ourself,” he said. “Sometimes guys are trying to do too much. You can’t do two guys’ jobs. Everyone needs to just do what they’re supposed to do.”
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.