‘A lot of hungry faces’: New Fitch head coach bringing energy, revamped offense to program


TJ Parker was a 2003 graduate of Fitch and is the first full-time head coach of the program since the late Phil Annarella

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It is a new era for Austintown Fitch football as 2003 graduate TJ Parker will take over the Falcons’ program this spring, becoming the first full-time head coach since the late Phil Annarella.

“To be back at my hometown school, there is no doubt it is pretty exciting,” Parker said on Tuesday. “Phil was a great coach and well-respected guy, and I am not going to try to be Phil Annarella. I am going to be myself, and that is different for this community but to see how they have adapted and accepted me, it has been fun.”

Even though in the past it has a run-first offense at Fitch, the new coaching staff will bring a new offensive mentality to town, so be ready to see the Falcons air it out a bit more this season.

“I do not want to give away too many of our secrets,” Parker said. “But it is definitely going to be a different animal this year on offense.”

And the Falcons have the weapons to do it. Devin Sherwood returns as quarterback after racking up over 2,000 yards of total offense with 23 touchdowns. Add that to a pair of returning running backs and wideouts Todd Simons and Tyler Evans, Fitch could rack up some points in 2020.

“Definitely exciting,” Sherwood said. “I love to throw the ball, but we are going to do what we need to do to win games. Whether that is running the ball or throwing the ball, the ultimate goal is to just win games.”

“Passing it more really opens up our team because sometimes the run got shut down and we would just hammer it now. Now, we can go over the top and beat teams deep,” Simons said.

After just a .500 season and no playoff trip, the Falcons are focused on returning the glory back to Austintown football.

“This is definitely a statement year for us,” Sherwood said. “It is our chance to really show what we can do and we are hoping to get after some teams this year.”

“In the locker room and in the coaches’ office there are a lot of hungry faces and a lot of guys that are eager to wear the F on their chest and show the area what we got,” Parker said.

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