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Powerhouse Kirtland awaits Fort Frye in state semifinals


Fort Fly is one of the final four teams.

The Cadets won the Division VI, Region 23 Championship last week and will face Kirtland in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Saturday at South Range High School in Canfield, Ohio. The winner will qualify for the state championship the following week.

Fort Fly head coach Eric Huck said of his team, “They all worked very hard to get here. It was a grueling schedule. Having our boys here is quite an accomplishment.”

Fort Fly is 13-1 this season and has eight straight wins, including his 35-28 victory over Bellair last week. Owen Brown and Austin Powell each rushed for two touchdowns late in the game, and on defense, Zaiden Huck scored his 14 tackles and Caleb Riggs scored his two sacks.

The Cadets have come this far with their ability to control his line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. This is key against Hornets teams trying to run the ball down the throat.

“Our boys fought really hard,” said coach Huck. “There was no end to them. We made some small tweaks at half-time, but it was mainly about playing the game and getting the right mentality.”

“They want to let go of the ball,” Huck said. “Control the line of scrimmage, run them. He has to stop the game. Offense has to run the ball, defense has to stop the run. That’s what this game is about.”

Kirtland (14-0) didn’t throw a pass in the 30-0 victory over Mogador, but Huck said the Hornets “could have.”

Tommy Gogolin led Kirtland last week with 193 yards and his 15 carries. Rocco Alfieri and Jake LaVerde are other players that the Hornets could play when they reach 289 yards and 35 rushes as a team in the Regional Finals. Defensively, Kirtland has notched a streak of shutouts in the last two weeks and has not conceded more than his eight in a game since September 30. The Hornets’ Mogadre is limited to 100 total yards.

“They are very good defensively all over the field,” Huck said. Huck says Fort Fly has the best group in the state, led by figures like Riggs, Graham Baker, Caleb Bailey, Carter Brooker, Stone Dixon, Bishop Dowler, and Morgan Smith. Huck said that Kirtland has had very big linemen in the past and not as big this year, but “they’ve been playing very hard and they’ve been solid from the start.” They are very well trained.”

The Hornets are coached by Tiger Laverde, whose program marks his 11th appearance in the state semifinals. Kirtland has won six state titles since his 2011, during which he has reached the state finals every year except 2016.

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  • Powerhouse Kirtland awaits Fort Frye in state semifinals
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