It has been a long time Fairless High School’s football team has boasted a conference championship, but that time may soon come to an end.
Fairless is currently 8-0 on the season and looks to clinch at least a share of the PAC-7 title with a win over Triway High School this Friday in Wooster.
“We’ve never won a PAC-7 title, and the last time we won a league title in football was in 1979, so there’s a lot of people that are talking about that,” says Fairless head coach AJ Sarbaugh.
Sarbaugh, a former All-Ohioan from North Canton Hoover High School who later played at Mount Union and assistant coached under his father Jeff Sarbaugh (the former head coach of Fairless who now works under his son as the Falcons’ running backs/defensive backs coach), is in his fourth season at Fairless and has turned around a program that went 3-7 (1-6) in 2018.
Despite being on the edge of a long-awaited title. Sarbaugh is ensuring his players keep their eyes on what’s in front – not what’s further ahead.
“They’ve been very focused, and they know what our goals are. We just want to get better with every game. Each week [our goal] is to be 1-0, so we haven’t talked about going undefeated or making the playoffs, or having a home playoff game. We’ve just been talking about controlling what we can control, and our kids have done a really good job with that.”
Looking back, however, the Falcons have greatly produced on both sides of the ball, leading the PAC-7 in total points scored (285) and total points allowed (109), along with never failing to score at least 28 points per game in all eight contests.
When asked about the main contributors to the offense, Sarbaugh answered: “I think it’s been a lot of different guys. It probably starts with Hunter Campbell…he can catch the ball, run the ball. A lot of people put their focus on him. Brody Pumneo…he catches the ball and runs the ball as well. Colton Collucci, Luke Yoder, Gavin Conley have all scored touchdowns throughout the year…Carson Collucci’s thrown the ball so well for a sophomore, he’s thrown for over 1400 [passing yards], and the people who get missed quite a bit are the offensive line up front. They’ve been run-blocking really well and give Carson that pass protection to hit receivers to make plays.”
“There are guys that get more credit than others, but it’s definitely a collective effort by all eleven guys on offense.”
Sarbaugh also spoke on the defense: “I think, defensively, we’ve really got eleven guys that are doing their ‘one-eleventh.’ They all fly to the football, they’re all really coachable and physical. I think it probably starts with our senior and middle linebacker Colton Collucci…he plays with passion, a lot of energy, and physicality, and those other ten guys just follow his lead.”
Now, the Falcons will take on the Titans in their Week 9 matchup this Friday.
“Triway’s a really good football team, their quarterback [Zack Miller] does an outstanding job,” says Sarbaugh. “He can throw, he can run, he’s their leader. We’ve got to find a way to contain him, keep him in the pocket and limit their passing game, and match their physicality.”