Firebirds bring trust, toughness into battle with Elks

Firebirds bring trust, toughness into battle with Elks

Junior Rob Bowling (#11) intercepts the football and moves it down the field behind solid defensive while Corey Phillips blocks.

Midway through the season, the Fairmont Varsity Football team is continuing to work every day on the X’s and O’s of their game plan. But Head Coach Andy Aracri says his team has already made great strides in two areas: trust and toughness.

They’ll need both when Aracri and company take on the Centerville High School Elks at the CHS stadium on Friday, Sept. 30.

Although the Firebirds are 2-3, one of those losses came whenFairborn scored with a Hail Mary pass at the end of the game on Sept. 16. Despite the disappointing loss, the boys aren’t letting it rattle them.

“The team is a very close-knit group,” Aracri said this week. “Two things we’ve seen on Friday nights are the guys becoming more tough on the field and trusting each other out on the field.”

Senior Corey Phillips, an outside linebacker, says he’s also seen the team grow in trust and toughness since the start of the season. Now, he says, they need to work on “finishing plays all the way until the play ends, and being consistent with wins.”

Aracri said he’s proud of the way the Firebirds have battled back from halftime deficits several times this season. “We’ve been down at halftime – whether it was 14 points, 1 point or a touchdown – but have come back in so many different fashions to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. That shows a lot of character about the team.”

Centerville and Wayne, two perennial GWOC Central powerhouses, lost star quarterbacks to graduation, which could improve Fairmont’s chances of defeating the longtime foes. “Both teams are going to be good opponents,” said Aracri. “They are very deep-rooted football programs that are used to winning, and absolutely they are going to show up on Friday nights and play hard. Our guys are looking forward to playing in that kind of atmosphere.”

The last time a Firebird football team made the playoffs was 2008. Does Aracri think the 2011 squad could make a playoff run late in the season?

“I think as long as we improve every week and continue to win games, that is always a goal, and it could be an opportunity,” the coach said. “But we have to take one week at a time and see how it hashes out at the end of the season.”

Phillips thinks making the playoffs is a possibility. “I believe that we can if we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “That means not making simple mistakes and mental busts. We have potential. We have a lot of great guys out there on the field who don’t quit and want to win.”

However the rest of the season plays out, Aracri says he’s glad to be the head coach at Fairmont. “My roots are deep here in Kettering,” he said. “This is where I grew up, where I graduated, and where I played football.”

Aracri has coached the Firebirds for two years now, and Phillips has been there for both. “I think Coach Rock is a great coach, a great guy, and I see him as a great role model,” Phillips said. “I know that he bleeds blue and silver, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he will do great things with this football program.”

For related content about the Firebird football team check out these stories and videos:]

9/28/2011: Fairmont Sports Talk Live: Firebird Football 2011

8/27/2011: Fans get into excitement of football, despite first loss

5/20/2010: Aracri’s ready to rock the football program