Dear Kettering, do you like lasagna in the microwave or the oven?
New Fairmont head coach, Dave Miller, has ushered in to GWOC with a record of 1-7. Thus causing students and Kettering citizens to cancel hope that was inflated when he took reins of the program.
Throughout the halls, you can hear insults and shots sent at the very team that represents them on the field every Friday night. “Our football team sucks,” is a term spewed from many Firebirds.
Honestly anyone who claims that Fairmont lacks talent, or any measurable attribute to win football games is ignorant.
The fact of the matter is in any sport the game goes so far beyond the scoreboard. Dave Miller, isn’t just coaching a new football team, he’s introducing a whole new style of the game to a group of mere kids. Miller is changing the culture, with the ground-and-pound, triple option.
Miller is also hauling with him to Kettering an almost entirely new coaching staff of his own as well. Fairmont’s landscape of football is being completely altered.
That much change is naturally going to take time for players to buy in, and coaches to execute. No one should expect Miller and his fresh staff to come into debatably the toughest conference in Ohio, and blow GWOC out of the water. No one with any knowledge about football anyway.
Along with taking that time and instilling a particular mindset in a whole entire program, Miller’s first bite of being the head coach of an established division one program hasn’t been an easy one to swallow.
FHS has had one of the toughest schedules in the entire state facing a handful of legitimately talented teams and has competed with them. With eight games tallied on the season so far, they’re easily a few mistakes away from being 5-3, and contending for the playoffs.
The only three teams with convincing victories being Sycamore, a Cincinnati team with an average record but even a tougher schedule than Fairmont, Miamisburg, a perennial GWOC powerhouse with the best offensive line in the conference, and Wayne, the coveted gem of the Greater Western Ohio Conference, and the number sixteen ranked HS football team in the country.
Despite all the losses, the initial punch hasn’t been a problem for them. Fairmont has scored first ⅝ games.
Haunting the young Firebirds all season have been a seemingly endless stream of turnovers and penalties. Stupid mistakes have caused the woes in tight games.
I’d say that the problem comes back to the youth, but even seniors have had mental breakdowns at certain crucial points in the game.
Speaking of seniors, another gigantic road block was their leaders getting seriously injured. At one time, there were five seniors out at the same time.
Before the season even started the Firebirds had Dakota Gearhart, Nick Moreland, and Deavyn Jones out. All of them were expected to contribute in a big way.
As the season progressed, they lost consistent impact players, cornerback Camren Crayton and offensive lineman Dalton Smith.
Both leaders on this football team, Crayton returned in the week seven win vs. West Carrollton and Smith, an anchor in the offensive line, is out for the rest of the season.
The latest injury was to starting defensive lineman Jamie Franz who has two sacks on the season.
Sure, an unfortunate season is taking place. But that doesn’t mean that false criticism needs to rain down upon the young and developing Fairmont squad. They’ve had leaps of encouragement especially from the expected returners.
There’s reasons to be excited as Fairmont students, Kettering residents and general supporters of Firebird football. The young guys being one of them.
Juniors such as Keisonn Pate, Jake Perkins, and Kennon Burroughs showed flashes of being huge players.
Pate, a corner not wowing statistically but getting it done with straight line speed, good pursuit of the ball, and great dead stop quickness. Perkins has been a known weapon in the Firebirds arsenal, and this season, when utilized and healthy, he’s been dynamic. Having gone for 443 total yards, and four touchdowns, he’s broken off some immense plays. Burroughs, being a consistent key option in Miller’s triple option while being placed in multiple positions, broke through to be 2nd in rushing for the Firebirds and getting three touchdowns this year.
Also the deadly freshman team combination through the air became a reality on varsity this year, as sophomores, quarterback Miles Johnson, and wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Hall were paired together.
Johnson has had his rough patches, but appeared as Fairmont’s guy going forward for a good chunk of the season, while Hall flashed to Kettering how dangerous his 6’3 frame, combined with his leaping ability could be. As a legitimate receiving threat in a running offense, don’t sleep on Mr. Hall ladies and gentlemen. He’s also been stout in coverage for most of the season gathering two picks.
Sophomore, Jonas Smith has as well been a latent, productive linebacker off the edge. He has 26 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.
Last but certainly not least, the only freshman on the varsity roster is not only a starter, but arguably the best player on defense.
Middle linebacker Trey Baker has been nothing short of incredible this season. Showing off his amazing instinct, closing speed, and relentlessness to make the play.
Baker has had a nose for the ball in every game played this season, leading the Firebirds with 44 tackles. If the line doesn’t get a body on him, he’s gonna be there for the stop.
For a freshman to be as good as Baker is, this kid is truly special. He’s shown gleams here and there that remind me of NFL All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Especially with his ability to not only disturb plays but create plays of his own from the defensive side of the ball, proven by his sack, two interceptions, and his fumble recovery touchdown.
Kettering should not only be excited because of the players, but they still need to have hope in their first year head coach Dave Miller. His system is still getting pounded into these kids’ minds.
Miller is slowly molding Fairmont into what he wants it to be. This is the same guy who molded Covington into a program that made the playoffs every year, won 53 straight games at one point, and accomplished 5 straight perfect seasons. Trust me, you want this guy at the helm of the Firebirds.
Kettering needs to have faith in his staff, in Miller, and they need to have patience while the lasagna is in the oven.
I guarantee the first, savory taste of success will be worth it.