AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Fitch hasn’t suffered through a losing season since 2007 (1-9). Coach TJ Parker has accumulated a winning percentage of 73.7% in his first two seasons at the helm of the Falcon program. That’s the best percentage that a Fitch coach has had in his first two years since Dave Hartman compiled an 18-2 mark in 1982 to 1983.

Fitch graduated a large senior class which included their quarterback, Devin Sherwood. “It’s never going to be easy replacing a class like that,” says Parker. “You’re talking about guys who have started here the last two to three years. Special players who left their mark on this program in so many ways. It’s seasons like this that separate good groups from good programs. I’m excited about what they can accomplish.”

The Falcons return three offensive linemen (Rocco Odom, Josh Fitzgerald, Jack Knight) and a pair of running backs (DJ Williams and Jamell James, back from an injury) as well as three receivers (Donovan Bell-Sullivan at tight end; Jayden Eley and Cam Smith).

This summer, Parker indicated that Smith and junior DeShawn Vaughn will take repetitions at quarterback. “Both have similar skill sets, so that helps from an offensive structure standpoint. They will look very different from [Devin] Sherwood but they are both explosive playmakers.”

Running back appears to be a real strength for Fitch’s offense as they’ll welcome back senior Jamell James, who started as a sophomore. DJ Williams will also be asked to carry the load in the backfield. Devin Phillips and J’Allen Underwood should add depth coming out of the backfield as well.

At wideout – Jayden Eley, Cam Smith, Dan Evans and Dom Perry all played a lot last season. Johnny Ruggles and Trevion Davis will also be in the mix for the receiver slot.

In addition to the three returning starters up front, the guard positions will be a battle between Ryan Armes, Julian Figueroa, Mark Stankorb and Noah Patton. There are quite a few sophomores that the staff feels can develop into solid players along the line as well.

“With seven returning starters,” points out Parker. “We feel very good about what this unit can accomplish. Our back end returns all four starters led by Iowa State commit Cam Smith.” Smith is joined by Deshawn Vaughn, Dan Evans III and Davion Pritchard. The coaching staff is high on seniors Bryant Butler and Arthur Croom in the defensive backfield too.

“Along the defensive line, we return all three starters in juniors Brian Robinson (who received multiple FBS offers) and Kylen Foster as well as senior Josh Fitzgerald,” states coach Parker. “Mark Stankorb and Donovan Bell-Sullivan will both see plenty of time up front. With the tremendous talent in both groups, we hope they can play complementary football, which will allow for a group of green linebackers the freedom to grow and make plays.”

Junior lineman Xavier Dahn finished with 4 ½ quarterback sacks for Ursuline last year.

Their linebacking group consists of juniors DJ Williams and Devin Phillips along with sophomores J’Allen Underwood and Rocco DiFlorio and senior JaShaughn Barrett.

Fitch will open the season against Foothill (NV) on Friday, August 19.

Fitch Falcons
Fast Facts
Head Coach: TJ Parker, 3rd season (14-5)
2021 Record: 7-4
Last 5 Years: 33-17 (66%)
Home Field: Greenwood Chevrolet Austintown Fitch Falcon Stadium
League: All-American Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: Multiple 3-4/4-2-5

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 7

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 31.7 (16th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 27.8 (39th in Area)
Total Offense: 386.3
Rushing Offense: 160.5
Passing Offense: 225.8

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Devin Sherwood – 2484 yards, 63.3% (157-248), 15 TDs
Rushing: Devin Sherwood – 768 yards, 5.8 avg, 12 TDs
Receiving: Tyler Evans – 986 yards, 19.3 avg, 5 TDs
Tackles: CJ Schisler – 81
Quarterback Sacks: Brian Robinson & Aaron Hively – 2.5
Interceptions: DeShawn Vaughn, Jr. – 6

2021 Results
Hoban 48 Falcons 28*
Falcons 35 Harding 28*
Falcons 42 Harding 33
Falcons 17 Boardman 14
Falcons 38 Wadsworth 28
Canfield 41 Falcons 10
Massillon 31 Falcons 21
Falcons 42 Cardinal Mooney 7
Ursuline 48 Falcons 47
Falcons 42 Canton McKinley 28
Falcons 27 Chaney 0
*-playoff

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – Foothill (NV)
Aug. 26 – Canton McKinley
Sept. 2 – GlenOak
Sept. 9 – at Ursuline
Sept. 16 – Bennett (NY)
Sept. 23 – at Massillon
Sept. 30 – at Strongsville
Oct. 7 – at Wadsworth
Oct. 14 – Boardman
Oct. 21 – Harding