November 24, 2014

Elyria
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High school football: Firelands hoping to build on 2012′s momentum

HENRIETTA TWP. — Same old Firelands.

That’s what everyone was saying when the Falcons followed up a dream 10-1 season, which included the school’s first-ever playoff appearance, with a 3-7 mark last year.

But if you dig a little deeper into what transpired last season, it was a tale of two halves and the final five games may have set Firelands up for a turnaround 2013 season.

“Injuries really took a toll on our senior class last year and we ended up having to play a lot of young guys,” Firelands coach Mike Passerrello said. “We had a real mix of ages out there that we had to fight through.

“When you start the season 0-5, you wonder where the team is going to go. You have to give the kids a lot of credit for pulling together and winning three of our last five.
That is certainly momentum that we can carry over to this year.”

After dropping the inauspicious start, the Falcons bounced back to defeat Wellington,
Keystone and Brookside while losing to Buckeye and Black River.

With only six seniors on this year’s roster, many of the Falcons players there for the late-season success were very young. Those young players have a year under their belts and are looking to build off their improved play at the end of the year.

“We’ve got some great chemistry this year between all the grades and we have been working harder than ever in the offseason to get back to where we were,” senior lineman Travis Alexander said. “We really have to minimize our mental mistakes.

“We had a lot of that last year, but it got better as the season went on. It’s hard to put into words what happened to us last year. We just have to learn from what happened and move on from there.”

The offense may take a little time to catch up to the defense with just five returning starters. The skill positions will be young with either junior Jacob Rutkowski or sophomore Ben Thrasher quarterbacking the team in their multiple I-formation offense.

“We were down after that 3-7 season, but we dedicated ourselves to not getting back there again,” wide receiver Jake Parker said. “We are ready to hit and a lot more anxious to get in the game. The young guys from last year are ready to step in and take over their positions.”

The Falcons defense may be a little more athletic than last season and Passerrello is going to switch to a 4-4 scheme this season to take advantage of its speed.

If Firelands is going to have a winning season, it is going to have to get the job done on the offensive and defensive lines. If “Meatball” has anything to say about it, the job will get done.

“We have simplified things and we’re ready to go out there and attack on the line,” said Joe Sosinski, who goes by the nickname. “We have most of our line back and the chemistry is really good right now.

“We’ve worked hard together, we go hang out together and this is a team that’s really close and is ready to turn all the hard work into wins. Three-and-seven just won’t cut it again this year.”

Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or jbrady_ct@yahoo.com.