Schedule: Aug. 26 — at Centerville, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 — Northmont, 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 — at Dublin Coffman, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 — Middletown, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 — at Lakota West, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 — Sycamore, 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 — at Mason, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 — at Colerain, 7 p.m.; Oct. 21 — Lakota East, 7 p.m.; Oct. 28 — Hamilton, 7 p.m.
The Fairfield High School football team saw last season how difficult it was going to be to replace a three-year starting quarterback.
When then-senior Hunter Krause suffered a knee injury midseason, the Indians pulled in two of their best athletes on offense to try to fill his shoes and focused more on the running game until Krause returned to lead them into the Division I postseason.
Replacing him for good has been the biggest focus for Fairfield coach Jason Krause since the 2015 season ended with a loss to Elder in the first round of the playoffs. Three candidates emerged in the offseason, and the Indians, who finished 8-3, are ready to find out this week what the offense looks like behind a new offensive leader.
“We lost our program’s all-time leading passer and a three-year starter at quarterback, so finding that guy has been our biggest obstacle,” coach Krause said. “We had some guys that stepped up and pushed each other, and they’ve done a great job, but it’s not easy.”
The battle is down to senior Aaron Carmack (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), a basketball player who did not play football last year, and sophomore Jeff Tyus (6-4, 195), the quarterback of the freshman team last year.
Ideally, Krause would like to have a player he can develop for future seasons as well, but he will go with the player that can help most now. Carmack started Friday’s scrimmage against Oak Hills, but Tyus came in and played well, too Krause said.
“If we think one is going to help us win, we have to play that guy, but if they are both equal, we’ll go with the younger guy,” Krause said. “Right now, we’re still deciding, but they’ve both done very well.”
Fairfield lost a lot of players in general from the Class of 2015, with running back David Keeling, standout receiver T.C. Wells, defensive back Mitch Larsen and three All-Greater Miami Conference offensive linemen among them.
However, plenty of talent remains, and a large roster should help the Indians carry on their recent success. They are 23-9 with a pair of playoff appearances over the past three seasons and seeking their fourth straight winning record for just the second time in school history.
“We graduated a really big senior class, so we’ve got a lot of untested guys … but we like what we see,” coach Krause said. “We had a great offseason, and players are working hard. We have a lot of talent in each class, but it’s just a matter of building depth in certain positions because we have a lot of inexperience in some areas.”
The Indians offense is helped by the return of wide receivers Alex Kaminsky (254 yards on 15 catches) and running back James Mitchell (454 yards combined rushing and receiving). Krause said he has five other capable players in the slot, also led by Will Cornwall and Chicco Robinson.
However, the offensive line needed some retooling with Jack Carman and Liam Herold the only experienced players.
Carman is a good player to be returning there, though. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman is one of the top recruits in the Class of 2018 with heavy interest from schools like Ohio State. He’s one of three big-time recruits helping Fairfield earn recognition as the 18th-best high school in Ohio for college recruiters to visit, according to 247sports.com’s team ratings for prospects earlier this summer.
The other two players are the anchors of the Indians’ defense. Senior cornerback Josiah Scott (5-11, 170) committed to Michigan State just before fall practices began, and junior defensive end Malik Vann is rated a three-star prospect.
Safety Zach Waddell and linebacker Aaron McKenzie also return on defense, and first-team All-GMC punter Jerred McGuire also is back.
“I feel really good about where we’re at,” Krause said. “We played well in our scrimamges. We’re a fast, physical bunch that likes to run to the ball. We’re excited to see what we can do.”