By Jim Horvath
Woody Hayes would have been proud.
Dave Latkovic certainly was.
Fairview’s football coach watched his young Warriors run the ball at will throughout most of the game on their way to a convincing 38-14 homecoming win Friday night. With the win, Fairview moved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the West Shore Conference to stay in a second place tie with Rocky River.
Bay fell to 2-3 in the WSC and 2-6 overall heading into next week’s final home game against Vermilion. The Rockets had no answer for the Warrior offense as the home team grabbed a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back.
“We were hitting on all cylinders in that first quarter,” Latkovic said. “We’ve got a young team, and we still have a ways to go. But it looked tonight like we’re starting to jell.
“We love to play people in a phone booth,” quipped Latkovic, referring to his team’s physical, smash-mouth style of play. “If we get you in a phone booth, you’re in trouble. We could beat up King Kong in a phone booth, that’s the mentality we have.”
Well, the phone was ringing early and often for the Warrior offense. They took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 13 plays as running backs Nick Williams and Jeff Mortensen took turns churning out yardage against the Rocket defense. A 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dave Lansu made it 7-0, and Fairview was off and running.
The Warriors’ second possession was a carbon copy of the first as they took 12 plays to go 64 yards. John Dogherty took it in from 8 yards out, and just like that it was 14-0 with just under a minute left in the first quarter.
Fairview went on another long drive on it’s third possession, but didn’t score again until covering a Bay fumble at the Rocket 36-yard line. Seven plays later, Williams ran 2 yards off tackle to pay dirt, making it 21-0 with 3:01 left in the first half. Bay scored right before halftime on a 35-yard Ryan Kana-to-Luke Rohkle touchdown pass.
That stopped the bleeding for a time. But Fairview was far from done, and the Rockets fueled the home team’s effort with a number of second-half turnovers.
The Warriors recovered a fumble at the Rocket 36-yard line early in the third quarter. Six plays later, Doherty took it in from 5 yards out and the rout was on.
“They beat us in every phase of the game,” said Bay head coach Ryan Gorius. “They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and we couldn’t sustain any kind of offense against them.
“They do what they do, and they do it well,” Gorius said. “They handled us.”
Next up for the Warriors: state-ranked and unbeaten Avon. The Eagles will travel to Fairview Park next Friday night with first place on the line.
“Wow. When was the last time Fairview played a meaningful game in week nine,” Latkovic said. “What, maybe 10 years ago? I’m sure it’s been a long time.
“We’ll get mentally ready, put our best effort out there and let the chips fall where they may,” he said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where this game means something. I think we can play with anybody in this league. It should be a good game.”