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  Austintown Crushes Boardman, 33-3  
  Falcon Quarterback Devon Sherwood Connects For Five TD Passes:   September 3, 2020 Edition  
      Boardman News Sports
      The cloud of uncertainty that hovered over area high school football teams was finally lifted this past weekend with programs finally getting down to business and playing their season opening contests.
      Austintown Fitch made sure they sent a statement to the remaining teams on their schedule that they’re hungry and happy to be back on the field.
      The Falcons’ junior quarterback Devin Sherwood’s statement resonated loudest.
      Sherwood completed 20 of 28 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns and Jamell James rushed for 76 yards on 14 totes to lead the Falcons to a 33-3 victory over the Boardman Spartans in the season lidlifter for both schools last Saturday at Greenwood Chevrolet Falcon Stadium.
      It marked the first time since 1966 that the two teams opened their respective seasons against one another – they last played each other in the season opening game in both 1965 and 1966 – despite the fact they had to wait an extra day to get it in.
      With the Spartans slated to open their 72nd varsity campaign on August 28, thunder, lightning and heavy rain curtailed the start – the teams had already warmed up and were awaiting a thumbs up to return to the field – and pushed their opener back 24 hours.
      Despite the outcome, BHS head coach Joe Ignazio had no excuses, especially when addressing the off-season uncertainty
      “Everybody is in the same boat so you can’t use it as an excuse,” he said. “Our kids need to come prepared and we’re playing like we hadn’t scrimmaged, competed and things like that. Overall, it’s a huge disappointment the way that we didn’t show up tonight.”
      Between their opener and second outing this week, Ignazio and staff will look for a marked improvement with the hopes of climbing back to the .500 mark.
      “I think [quarterback] Terence [Thomas] did some good things offensively for never playing the quarterback position,” he added. “He’s coming along and he continues to work hard.
      “We’re getting in good positions, we just have breakdowns. Kids start doing their own thing and for the first time, we have to watch the film against an opponent, continue to get better and have a have a big jump from week one to week two.”
      The Falcons (1-0) wasted no time getting on the board, taking their opening drive of the game 81 yards in 13 plays, Sherwood capping off the five minute drive with a 10-yard scoring strike to Jaden Murray for the early 6-0 advantage.
      After the two teams traded possessions, Thomas marched the Spartans down the field and on a first and goal from the Falcons’ four-yard line, Thomas scored what was believed to be the game-tying touchdown.
      The tally was nullified, however, as Boardman was called for holding and on first and goal from the 16-yard line, a disputed shovel pass by Thomas was ruled a fumble and recovered by Fitch’s Donovan Oliver to thwart the BHS drive just 1:26 into the second stanza.
      Sherwood wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity, heaving a 49-yard strike across his body to Nate Leskovac and after the Spartans stopped the placement for the second straight time, Fitch maintained a 12-0 lead.
      The two teams once again traded possessions and at 3:36 of the second frame, Sherwood hit Tyler Evans from 32 yards out for his third touchdown strike of the game. When Josiah Berni added the placement, the Falcons opened a 19-0 margin.
      On the ensuring drive, Thomas led Boardman to the Fitch eight-yard line where placekicker Carson Essad got the Spartans on the board with a 25-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 19-3 at intermission.
      In the opening 24 minutes of action, the Falcons held a 279-83 total yards advantage.
      Sherwood ended up utilizing five different receivers as his scoring targets.
      “We have some really, really good weapons on the perimeter and everyone can make a play when they have the ball in their hands,” Sherwood stated. “We try to spread the wealth and it worked out for us tonight.”
      He also addressed everyone’s off-season uncertainty.
      “We really didn’t know if we were going to have a season and we’re blessed to have one,” Sherwood noted. “We prepare hard in the off-season, we go best-on-best in practice pretty much everyday and it just paid off for us tonight.
      “I’m a little disappointed in the six-game season because I want to play more football, but I understand the situation and the pandemic that we’re going through right now because we’ve got to remain safe.
      “We do have playoffs this year, which I am thankful for so hopefully we’ll have more than six games.“
      Sherwood was also quick to dish out kudos to his offensive line.
      “The offensive line did really, really well today,” he said. “Garrett Hogan, Nate John at center and really everybody just kept doing their thing and getting the job done.”
      Sherwood proceeded to find James at 7:05 of the third period to increase their margin to 26-3, closing out the scoring at 9:16 of the final quarter with a four-yard strike to Donnie Ellis to secure their 30-point victory.
      Todd Simons led all Falcons receivers with five catches for 62 yards, James added four receptions for 32-yards while Murray and Ellis each had three receptions for 35 and 24 yards respectively.
      For the Spartans (0-1), Thomas was nine of 19 through the air for 78 yards and was also the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 15 times for 55 yards.
      Anthony Hightower was on the receiving end of three Thomas aerials, picking up 39 yards while Sean O’Horo (22 yards) and Cam Thompson (12 yards) hauled in two Thomas completions.
      Thomas ended up accounting for 133 of the Spartans’ 144 total offensive yards.
      With the win, the Falcons have now won five straight against their arch-rivals and lead the all-time series, 39-32-1.
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