High School Football: Fairmont kicks off 100th season with win over Alter

Fairmont's Drew Baker looks for room to run vs. Alter on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. Baker rushed for 147 yards in the Firebirds' 16-7 win. Eric Frantz/CONTRIBUTED
Fairmont's Drew Baker looks for room to run vs. Alter on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. Baker rushed for 147 yards in the Firebirds' 16-7 win. Eric Frantz/CONTRIBUTED

KETTERING -- Fairmont kicked off its 100th year of football Thursday with one of the program’s more memorable wins – and play calls.

Having waited 24 months for another shot at neighborhood rival Alter, the Firebirds delivered a stunning 16-7 victory before an electric crowd at Roush Stadium. It was the 54th meeting between the teams who did not play last year during a COVID-shortened season. It marked the third time in the last four meetings Fairmont (1-0) was victorious. Alter (0-1) had won 13straight prior.

“You don’t know what you miss until it’s gone,” Fairmont head coach Dave Miller said. “It’s so awesome to be back out here in front of the Kettering community. After the year we’ve had, this was beautiful. You couldn’t write it any better.”

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Fairmont played flawlessly.

The Firebirds netted field goals on their first three possessions but delivered a knockout blow on their fourth when Male’k Hillon hit Dustin Gustwiler for a 5-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-3 from the Alter 5-yard line with 10:50 to play. Fairmont had elected to kick a field goal, but called timeout and reconsidered.

“If (Alter) stopped us, they had to drive the length of the field,” Miller said. “With the way our defense was playing at that point, we had to try it. The kids executed and made me look smart.”

The completion, on a play-action fake out of the Firebirds’ “Heavy” set, was one of three for Hillon, who finished 3-for-3 for 57 yards.

“We saw them cheating on some plays,” said Hillon, who completed six passes total last season.  “We caught them off guard at the right moments.”

Workhorse Drew Baker carried the ball 33 times for 147 yards behind a Fairmont offensive line that produced a 32:25-15:35 edge in time of possession and 245 total yards. Will Holt, who had three field goals last season, was 3-for-3 with makes from 37, 29 and 26yards. The Firebirds went 3-for-3 on fourth down.

“Our offensive line won it in the trenches,” HIllon said. “I also have to give it up for the defense. They held them to just seven points. That’s incredible.”

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Alter had the ball four times. The Knights scored on their first possession (a 9-yard run by Danny Mangin III) for a 7-0 lead, but critical negative yardage plays and penalties, including one that nullified a 73-yard third quarter touchdown run by CJ Hicks, hampered the next two drives. Alter’s final possession ended with a fumble at Fairmont’s 11-yardline.

The Knights managed 177 yards and completed one of three pass attempts.

“You don’t get many opportunities against a team like that, because they were able to control the line of scrimmage a lot of the time offensively,” Alter head coach Ed Domsitz said. “When we had opportunities we either broke down fundamentally or made critical mistakes.”

Hicks, the state’s No. 1 senior prospect and an Ohio State linebacker commit, finished with eight tackles, while teammate Lynell Collier racked up a game-high 11.

“The Alter-Fairmont game just jumps out at you every year,” Domsitz said. “There are a lot of intense feelings within the communities. It was great to be in front of a crowd like that.”

“You definitely felt it tonight,” HIllon said. “You felt the stadium shaking. I missed that.”

Alter plays Thurgood Marshall at Centerville next week, while Fairmont hosts Trotwood-Madison.

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