Defense continues to be the driving force in Fenwick High School’s historic football season.
The Falcons kept Alter out of the end zone until the final seconds and registered their school-record 16th straight victory Saturday night, a 19-9 decision at West Carrollton’s Dayton Outpatient Center Stadium.
“We’re the best defense in the state. I’m not going to lie,” said Fenwick junior linebacker Sammy DeBiasi, who racked up 14 total tackles. “I was a little anxious tonight, more anxious than nervous. I was just ready to go out there and show ’em what we’re made of.”
Jimmy Gephart intercepted a pass for the Falcons (12-0), and teammates Anthony Frohlich and Logan Gearhart added fumble recoveries.
Fenwick advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1987 and will face Clinton-Massie, a 40-34 winner over Indian Hill, for the Division IV, Region 14 title next Saturday night at a neutral site to be announced Sunday.
“Our kids played so fast and physical,” Falcons coach Joe Snively said. “We’re really getting good at reacting to adversity. Sometimes when a defense has had a great year, you’re not used to a team moving the ball on you a little bit. The kids just continue to believe in the coaches, and we believe in them.
“I’m super proud of them. Even when things do go bad, they fly to the ball. We constantly preach that you can’t go wrong if 11 guys are flying to the ball.”
Nathan Jeffers, Michael Sheridan and Alan Nix all ran for touchdowns as Fenwick knocked off Greater Catholic League Coed Division rival Alter (10-2) for the second time this year. Sheridan collected 113 yards on 21 carries, and Jeffers gained 73 yards on 11 runs.
Sheridan’s 28-yard TD sprint was the biggest blow. With the Falcons leading 7-3 and facing fourth-and-3 with 9:57 remaining, he went straight up the gut to the end zone.
Matt Ruffolo kicked a 27-yard field goal for the Knights in the third stanza. Alter’s lone touchdown came on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Markoff to Jacob Brinkman with 0:04 left in the game.
“I think we played considerably better than we did the first time,” Knights coach Ed Domsitz said. “Fenwick’s just a very good football team. They’re tough to move the football on.
“Considering what we lost, how depleted we were at some spots on offense and defense, a lot of people thought Alter might get five or six wins. These kids came out and won 10 ballgames. So I couldn’t be more proud of the job they’ve done.”