Story by John Blake
Photos by Larry Bennet
Last season might have just been the shot in the arm the Fairview football program needed.
The Warriors are coming off a historic 8-2 finish, their best record since 1953, and narrowly missed out on the postseason, placing 10th in the Division IV, Region 11, standings.
Returning nine letterwinners, mostly on the offensive side of the ball, the Warriors hope that positive momentum can continue to roll into the fall.
"We will have a number of skilled players returning who saw valuable playing time in 2014," noted Fairview head coach Tom Narducci, who is entering his fourth season with the Warriors. Narducci holds a 16-14 mark in his three years with the Warriors.
"The coaches are hoping the enthusiasm will carry into 2014 and the team can mature as the year progresses," he said.
It may be a work in progress defensively, but Narducci's club should have no problem putting up points offensively.
Senior returning letterman Colin McNamara returns from injury to lead the Fairview spread attack. The 6-0, 171-pound signal caller's 2013 season was cut short in Week 5 due to a knee injury but Narducci says he is fully recovered. At the time, McNamara was 21-of-43 for 334 yards with a passing and rushing touchdown.
Teaming up with McNamara are a bevy of talented senior receivers, including second-team All Patriot Athletic Conference 5-10, 162-pounder Ryan Williams, Dan Kilrain at 5-10 162, and Kevin Shugrue at 6-0, 161.
The offensive line is a little thin with senior Chris Klotzbach (5-9, 187) listed as the team's only returning starter. Juniors Mike Pissos (6-3, 254) and Max Logterman (6-3, 263) are slated to see extended time up front as well but the rest of the line is largely inexperienced.
"(The) two burly juniors need to step up to help the Warrior running game and give protection to McNamara," noted Narducci.
The big boys up front hope to provide holes for junior returning letterwinner and 5-4, 153-pound running back Quinn Gullette.
Speaking of holes, Narducci will have his hands full early on patching together a defense which returns just a pair of letterwinners from a year ago. Junior defensive lineman Jakhari Wilson (5-10, 204) and sophomore defensive back Josh Filkill (6-0, 156) will be among the few coming back with much experience.
"Filkill and Williams return in the secondary but after that a lot of new faces will be making their debut against a very talented and pass happy Rocky River team," said Narducci.
The Warriors certainly have some question marks. However, special teams can sometimes prove to be an overlooked facet of the game and Fairview may hold an advantage in sophomore kicker Elion Bendo, voted to the first team All-PAC as a freshman.
The 5-6, 158-pound soccer player was 28-of-28 on extra points last season and 4-of-6 on field goals, his longest coming from 35 yards.
Narducci hopes to be competitive in an always tough PAC Stripes Division and he expects Lutheran West to finish at the top of the standings.
"There will be some new looks in The Stripes Division as Lutheran West and Oberlin will have new head coaches," said Narducci. "The league should be more balanced than in the past but Lutheran West has the best running back in the area with Chris Jones and Clearview's quarterback Roger Engle is a special player to watch."
Rounding out Narducci's coaching staff are defensive coordinator Garrett Mack, special teams coordinator Rich Friel, offensive coordinator Tim McFarland, Nick Wolff (offensive/defensive lines), Jake Brandy (Receivers/DBs) and middle school coaches T.J. Hill, Darrin Laughlin, Ryan Barry and Dave Afandorfor.
Fairview opens the season Aug. 28 at home against Rocky River. The Warriors beat the Pirates, 38-26, in last season's opener. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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