By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor
SPENCER Who says kids these days don’t know history? The Fairless football team is becoming quite familiar with it this season.
Of course, a big reason for that is because of the history the Falcons are making.
Fairless was playing in only its second playoff game ever on Saturday night at Black River in a Division V regional quarterfinal. But the Falcons managed to make a little history in the process, as their 51-42 win marked the program’s first playoff win.
“We’re making history,” said Jeremy Mahaffey, who had a kickoff return for a score and two rushing touchdowns in the game. “Our motto the last two weeks has been, ‘We’re making history.’ That’s all we care about. ... Stuff that we haven’t ever done before, and people are just shocked by it.”
Earlier in the season, Fairless gained its first win against nemesis Manchester since 1985 with a 49-48 triple-overtime win. In Week 10, the Falcons beat archrival Tuslaw for the first time since 1996 with a 63-27 win.
VIDEO: Fairless-Manchester Preview
And now, thanks to the Falcons’ first playoff win, they will see if they can make a little more history by beating Manchester twice in one season. The Panthers await Fairless in a regional semifinal game Saturday at Central Catholic.
Hunter Wells already has rewritten the records books in a multitude of ways throughout his Fairless career. But the senior quarterback added one more mark in Saturday’s win against Black River by setting the Stark County single-season passing mark.
With his 284-yard performance in the win, he now has 3,395 yards this season. The previous mark was held by former Massillon standout Justin Zwick, who threw for 3,281 as a senior in 2001.
Wells, who has already shattered the county’s all-time passing mark, also has 66 touchdown passes for his career. The county record for career touchdown passes in 73, set by Alliance’s Charlie Babb.
Babb’s all-time passing mark was broken by Wells in Week 5 against Triway. Wells has now thrown for 8,181 yards in his career, 2,800 more than Babb.
Taking to air
Fairless’ defensive game plan was obviously centered around stopping Black River’s wing-T offense. And that offense has been all about running the ball, running the ball and running the ball some more.
But the Falcons also had to contend with the Pirates’ passing game quite a bit.
Black River quarterback Brock Waltz was 6-of-9. That doesn’t seem all that extravagant, except that he threw for a season-best 189 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown to Andrew Vaughn in the third quarter.
“I think (Black River coach) Al (Young) had a couple of things designed,” said Fairless coach Don Wilson, who was a high-school teammate of Young’s at Black River in the 1970s. “I give him credit for that. He’s kind of a wily old guy.”
One of the things a ball-control offense can do when it’s running well is put pressure on the other team’s offense because of the amount of time it can chew up in a given drive. The other team often can think it must go out and score on each drive it has because of what it may see as limited opportunities.
Wilson believed that was an issue Fairless dealt with in its Week 9 loss at Indian Valley. It was also a concern coming into the Black River game.
Saturday, the Falcons didn’t let the Pirates three methodical first-half drives alter their approach.
“Credit goes to (assistant coaches Ryan) Murphy and (Craig) Fortner for that,” Wilson said. “They did a nice job of keeping our kids together. I think the biggest thing we have to do is just continue to improve on the little things, and when you get better at the little things, the big things take care of themselves.”
Reach Chris at 330-775-1128
On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE