Schedule: Aug. 26 — Anderson, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 — Mount Healthy, 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 — Lebanon, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 — Chaminade Julienne, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 — vs. Alter at Centerville, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 — Badin, 7 p.m.; Oct. 8 — at McNicholas, 1 p.m.; Oct. 14 — Purcell Marian, 7 p.m.; Oct. 21 — at Roger Bacon, 7 p.m.; Oct. 28 — at Carroll, 7 p.m.
Fenwick High School football coach Joe Snively wants to put the successful 2015 season as distantly in the rear-view mirror as possible.
The Falcons, behind a solid senior class, went 13-1 and advanced to the Division IV state semifinals, knocking off Alter twice and Clinton-Massie along the way.
“Any coach would take 13-1,” Snively said. “But, to be honest, we don’t talk about it. We’ve moved on. This senior class feels like they have something to prove. When you have a great season, the hard part is repeating it.”
The Falcons did lose the bulk of their starters on both sides of the ball from a squad that averaged 350.2 yards per game on offense while giving up 151.4.
While the system hasn’t changed, Snively knows teams will change how they come at Fenwick this year. Some will want to knock them off due to the 2015 success. Others may look past them because of the number of seniors who graduated.
“It is a compliment and a major challenge at the same time because we had one of the biggest seasons in the history of football at the school and we have a big target,” Snively said. “But, if people think we are a weaker team now, I understand that as well. It is a new season, and we haven’t proven anything yet. It is a new season, and this group has to make its own way.”
The Falcons do have some experience returning on both sides of the ball.
Alan Nix (5-9, 170) is back at quarterback after stepping in when Jimmy Gephart got hurt in Week 5 last year. Nix threw for 454 yards and rushed for 258 as a junior.
Halfback Keegan Corbett (5-10, 185) and fullback Jake Denning (5-11, 180) combined for 533 rushing yards last season. Tight ends Bradley Davenport (6-3, 185) and Alec Hemmelgarn (6-3, 200) also return.
Josh Berning (6-3, 225) is returning to anchor the offensive line once he recovers from a broken foot.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who have been on the field,” Snively said. “But the thing is they have to make their own confidence.”
The Falcons will still lean heavily on the run (298.8 yards per game last season) while mixing the pass in a little more frequently after averaging 60.4 yards in 2015.
“We are a heavy run team but we will throw more, although I say that every year,” Snively said. “Our philosophy is to play great defense, run the football and get great field position through our special teams.”
Davenport and Hemmelgarn return at outside linebacker, while Corbett and Dominic Wyatt will get help in the secondary from Sam Simendinger (a transfer from Mason), Jake Schaefer and Giovanni DiGirolamo.
Sam Secrest and Steve Forbes have made an impression at defensive tackle, and Leo Bell and Alex Kowal will rotate in at nose guard.
Returning All-GCL selection Sammy DeBiasi and Joe Durham will lead the defense from their inside linebacker positions.
“We have a lot who are not in the same position as they were before,” Snively said. “But the defensive line is where we have some really big shoes to fill with who graduated. After our scrimmages, we feel pretty good. Everyone worked in pretty well.”