Alter’s 21-7 win in 2019 marks the only time one of the teams has scored more than 20 points in the rivalry in the last five years. Last season, the Knights had the ball just four times in 48 minutes. Fairmont beat Alter 13-12 and 12-6 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Fairmont’s recipe for success against Alter has been ball security, timely pass completions and fourth-down conversions. The Firebirds have forced six Alter turnovers since 2017, while committing just one. Fairmont has also completed 5-of-10 pass attempts in the last four games and has converted 7-of-10 fourth downs, including 3-for-3 last year.
Size on the offensive line and senior running back Drew Baker will be Fairmont advantages. Baker earned first team All-GWOC honors last year after rushing for 1,533 yards and 18 touchdowns. Three seniors and All-GWOC players anchor the defense – Dalton Gustwiller (DL), Tyler Adkins (LB) and Owen Russell (DL). Senior Dylan Krieger and sophomore Brock Baker step in at quarterback, where three-year starter Male’k Hillon has graduated.
Alter counters with the smallest senior class in program history (six). The Knights, who enter year No. 31 under head coach Ed Domstiz, lost over 20 seniors from last year’s team, which started 2-5 but rattled off four straight wins, including a playoff victory over Monroe. Alter has reached the postseason 21 straight years. The Knights drop from Division III to IV this season.
Alter graduated 11 All-Greater Catholic League Co-Ed players and returns two in senior running back Jacob Schaefer and junior receiver Michael Russ. Sophomore quarterback Gavin Connor is back after throwing for 870 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Alter-Fairmont game is one of 36 statewide Thursday that kicks off the Ohio high school football season. Wayne at Fairfield and Carroll versus Ponitz at Welcome Stadium are also on the docket.