Former Fairmont High School football teams may have folded. Not this one.
What a difference 12 months make.
Finishing 1-9 last season, Fairmont is off to a 2-0 start in Year 2 under head coach Dave Miller.
The host Firebirds overcame a disappointing and scoreless first half to beat Hamilton 22-6 on a damp night at Forman Field in one of five Friday matchups featuring Greater Western Ohio Conference and Greater Miami Conference schools.
Fairmont’s unbeaten start is its best since opening the 2004 campaign 4-0 (finished 7-3). The Firebirds have one winning season since 2009.
Hamilton, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, drops to 0-2. Big Blue opened with a loss to Moeller.
Fairmont had two first-half touchdowns nullified by penalty, lost a fumble deep in Hamilton territory and missed a field goal en route to a 0-0 deadlock at halftime.
“It’s a credit to the kids,” Miller said. “Of all the lessons we learned last year, that was the biggest one — mental toughness. Tonight was another test of that. So far, two weeks in a row they’ve passed that test really well.”
Said Fairmont junior running back Jesse Deglow: “That second half we showed our mental toughness and were able to overcome. Coach Miller has drilled that into us the whole offseason and preseason. We’ve bought into it and we trust the process.”
The Firebirds also trust the run.
Through eight quarters, Fairmont has employed an offensive formula that worked well on Friday’s saturated playing surface. After running the ball on 54 of 55 offensive snaps in a 13-12 season-opening win over rival Alter, the Firebirds ran the ball 52 times for 404 yards against Big Blue.
Fairmont attempted one pass, which was completed for a touchdown that was called back due to an illegal procedure penalty.
“Believe it or not, we can throw the ball,” Miller said. “We did complete the one pass we threw, but running is our DNA and we’re going to stick to that. If teams make us throw the ball we will do that, but so far we’ve done a good job running it. We will just keep doing what works.”
Echoed Deglow: “If it works, why stop doing it? You know what I mean?”
“It wears on you trying to get them off the field,” Big Blue coach Chad Murphy said. “It’s tough. That’s their game — running the ball and chewing the clock. I don’t know if they punted.”
Fairmont, which did not punt, was led by Deglow (23 carries, 176 yards, two TDs). He added a two-point conversion run.
David Stamer contributed 88 yards on six carries, while Kennon Burroughs had 76 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Junior quarterback Braden Miller churned out 52 yards on 10 totes.
Hamilton had opportunities, but managed just one touchdown on four trips inside the Fairmont 20-yard line.
Firebirds defensive back Ryan Hall stopped three Big Blue drives with interceptions, including one in the end zone.
“We were in the red zone four times and got six points,” Murphy said. “Our defense played well enough early to win, but they managed the game well and ran the ball when they needed to.
“It hurts. We have to seize the moment.”
The Firebirds visit Milford on Friday, while Hamilton begins Greater Miami Conference play at home against Oak Hills.
F: Jesse Deglow 7 run (Braden Miller run)
F: Deglow 51 run (Kick failed)
H: Maleek Jarrett 1 run (Kick blocked)
F: Kennon Burroughs 14 run (Deglow run)