October 9, 2012

Transfer Fairchild one of Otterbein's biggest catches

More news about: Otterbein
Trey Fairchild contributed 81 receiving yards and a score to Otterbein's win over Baldwin Wallace, which is so far the Cardinals marquee win of the season.
Otterbein athletics photo

Trey Fairchild was like a lot of athletes. He dreamed of playing a sport at the Division I level, and coming out of Dublin Coffman High School in Ohio, he was given his shot at living the dream.

Fairchild began his career at Syracuse, but when head coach Greg Robinson was fired before the end of the 2008 season, the wide receiver knew it was time to find a new place to showcase his talents.

Eastern Kentucky was his next stop. He saw action in four games with the Colonels, and yet, he didn't feel like it was the right place to be.

So he looked toward a return to Ohio.

"My parents went to Otterbein, and I had friends who played there," Fairchild said. "I felt like it was a good place to go. I felt lost the first two years and didn't know if I was even going to continue playing. I found a home at Otterbein."

It has worked out well.

Fairchild, an All-American last season and a preseason All-American this year, has been part of a revival season for the Cardinals, who have won their first five games and are in contention for their first Ohio Athletic Conference championship since 1946.

The Cardinals were 3-7 a year ago but have turned things around in a hurry as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Not bad for a team that was projected to finish near the bottom of the conference.

"We know we weren't expected to do much this year, but we didn't pay attention to any of it," Fairchild said. "We worked hard in the offseason, and we have been winning the close games that we lost last year. We have a chip on our shoulder, and we are focused on playing one game at a time."

The senior wide receiver has done his part to keep the Cardinals on the right track. He is second on the team in receptions with 17 and has racked up 256 yards to go along with three touchdowns. He has also returned six kicks for 177 yards.

Fairchild usually faces double teams at receiver, but at times it doesn't matter because he is merely running to give another player a chance to make a big play.

"As a receiver, you would always love to have the ball more, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help the team," Fairchild said. "I feel like I'm a better player than I was last year, and I just focus on making every play I can."

If there was anyone who could have rested on his laurels this season, it was Fairchild. He was the 2011 Ed Sherman Award winner, an award given to the top receiver in the conference, as he came through with six 100-yard receiving games and averaged 213.8 all-purpose yards per game.

His efforts earned first-team All-Conference honors.

It wasn't enough. He spent time in the offseason improving every aspect of his game with trainer John Westenhaver, a former NFL scout. He also did a lot of speed training with John Lopresti.

"Those guys were a big help to me," Fairchild said. "They made a difference in helping me get better timing with the quarterback this year."

His return to the field this season, however, was delayed. An offseason leg injury kept him sidelined in the opener, and he made only five catches for 53 yards in the second game of the season.

"The injury wasn't anything too serious," Fairchild said. "I was disappointed I had to miss the first game, but I've been playing well since coming back."

That includes in the upset of nationally ranked Baldwin Wallace. Fairchild caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown as the Cardinals knocked off the Yellow Jackets 31-17 for only their fifth 4-0 start since 1950.

"It was a great win for us, but coach reminded us that it's only one win," Fairchild said. "Every game we play is a big game, and we have to be ready to play every week."

Otterbein head coach Tim Doup is in his first season at the helm after spending nine seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cardinals. He is also a former offensive lineman at the school and takes a lot of pride in what the Cardinals have been able to accomplish so far this season.

Their latest victory was a 23-13 win over Muskingum on Saturday.

"The win over Baldwin Wallace was a big stepping stone for us, especially after our program had taken some steps back after the playoff year," Doup said. "I've enjoyed being able to coach this team, and the guys are behind me all the way. The key for us is staying focused."
The Cardinals have been able to win behind an offense that is cranking out 321.2 yards per game and has turned the ball over only five times.

Aaron Kingcade is in his first year as the starting quarterback and has thrown for 770 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 141 yards and seven scores.

Brock Burzanko is the leading rusher for the Cardinals, churning out 193 yards, and Steven Carpenter has made 19 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense has been nothing short of opportunistic, forcing 17 turnovers and holding opponents to 246.4 yards per outing.

Zack Grieve leads the team in tackles with 27, and Chad Pepper is second with 25. Patrick Seesholtz has tallied 21 tackles. The three have combined for 9.5 sacks.

"We have been very smart with the football and have been able to step up and make plays in the running and passing game," Doup said. "Our defense has a different mindset this year. They are a lot more physical and a lot more aggressive."

The next two weeks will tell the story of this Otterbein team. The Cardinals will play at unbeaten Heidelberg on Saturday and will host No. 1 Mount Union in two weeks.

"We know we have a tough road ahead, but the only game we can focus on right now is the next one on our schedule," Doup said. "We have kept the guys even keel, and they have done a good job of not looking ahead to anyone."

Fairchild is certainly focused. He does dream of one day playing in the NFL, but for now, he is only concerned with the 2012 season.

"I'm only thinking about this season right now," Fairchild said. "I love being a part of this team and that we are having success. I'll think out my next step once this season is over."

Remembering Tim McNerney

The Washington and Jefferson football team took the field on Saturday against Thomas More with heavy hearts. Less than 48 hours earlier, the Presidents learned that senior running back Tim McNerney was the victim of a homicide.

McNerney and a friend were mugged by up to six men while walking home from a bar early Thursday morning. The cause of his death was blunt force trauma to the head. As of Tuesday, police were still searching for leads.

It is a senseless act of violence, and I don't understand why someone would feel the need to take the life of another person to steal a cellphone.

"It's tragic the way it happened," Washington and Jefferson head coach Mike Sirianni said.

"The people that did this are cowards. I really pray that this is the worst thing the players on this team ever have to deal with in life."

Yet, even with heavy hearts, the Presidents took the field, running the first play of the game with only 10 men on the field in honor of McNerney, who rushed for a team-best 483 yards and four touchdowns in the five games he played in this season. The backfield was empty on the first play.

Washington and Jefferson lost the game 56-18 and are now 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.

Sirianni did not use the tragedy as an excuse for the tough performance. He also thought Thomas More handled the situation with a lot of class and respect as well.

Thomas More "was in a difficult position, too, and they showed tremendous support for us," Sirianni said. "I thought emotionally we were ready, but it shows you how tough this was on the players mentally. I thought our guys played hard and I'm proud of the effort they gave."

Sirianni said McNerney was not only one of the team's best players, but he was one of the most popular players on the team. He noted that the support the entire Washington and Jefferson community provided during the tragedy has been nothing short of amazing. School president Tori Haring-Smith even sat in the stands in the rain during the junior varsity game.
As tough as the ordeal has been on the football team, Sirianni said his thoughts and prayers are with the family of McNerney as well.

"Our football family is hurting, but for Tim's parents and family members, I can't even imagine what they are going through right now," Sirianni said. "I pray that they find the strength to get through this."

In the poll

Mount Union served up one more reminder as to why it's the No. 1 team in the nation after crushing Wilmington 66-0 on Saturday.

The Purple Raiders, who are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the OAC, have blanked their last four opponents and have stretched their regular-season win streak to 68 games. Mount Union rolled up 587 yards of offense and limited Wilmington to 92 yards.

T.J. Lattimore and Jake Simon rushed for two touchdowns apiece and combined for 100 yards, while the Purple Raiders were nearly perfect passing the ball. Kevin Burke completed 14 of his 15 passes for 134 yards and one score, while backup quarterback Roman Namdar was 9-of-9 for 79 yards and a touchdown. Taurice Scott went 2-of-2 for 20 yards.

Shawn Riley and Nick Driskill led the defense with four tackles apiece.

Wabash kept itself in the hunt for the NCAC championship after knocking off Wittenberg 27-24 on the road Saturday. The No. 16 Little Giants saw their lead cut to 27-24 but killed off the final 9:32 of the game with a 17-play drive.

For Wabash head coach Erik Raeburn, it was the 100th win of his career, including his second consecutive win over Wittenberg.

Chase Belton hit on 12 of his 17 passes for 218 yards, and Tyler Holmes rushed for 76 yards.
Cody Buresh racked up 10 tackles to pace the Wabash defense. Nate Scola tallied nine tackles, and AJ Akinribade tallied eight tackles. The Little Giants moved up to No. 15 this week and are 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Otterbein remained tied at No. 25 in the nation after taking down Muskingum 23-13 on Saturday. The Cardinals had to rely on backup quarterback Ben Sizemore after starter Aaron Kingcade went down with an injury in the opening quarter.

Sizemore filled in nicely, throwing three touchdown passes. He was 12-of-21 for 201 yards in the win as Otterbein improved to 5-0 overall and to 4-0 in the OAC.

The Cardinals were solid on defense as well, forcing four turnovers and limiting the Muskies to 275 yards. Muskingum was just 3-of-12 on third-down conversions.

Heidelberg, the other 25th-ranked team, dominated another opponent on Saturday, scoring the first 31 points of its game against Capital en route to a 45-10 win. The Student Princes are 5-0 for the first time since 1993 and are very much alive in the hunt for a conference championship with a 4-0 OAC mark.

Heidelberg head coach Mike Hallett moved into a tie with Armin "Pete" Riesen for fourth all-time on the school wins list with 30.

The Student Princes shredded the Capital defense for 601 yards of offense and Michael Mees helped pave the way as he completed 17 of his 33 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. C.J. Powell caught six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.

The defense got a big lift from Stephen Fejedelem, who racked up eight tackles, including a pair of sacks and four tackles for a loss. Fejedelem and the Heidelberg defense limited Capital to 198 yards of offense.

Inside the MIAA

Trine made a statement on Saturday when it knocked off defending Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion Albion 27-22 in Angola.

The Thunder got a huge lift from Ryan Hargraves, who completed 11 of his 15 passes for 166 yards and opened the scoring for Trine when he ran 83 yards for a touchdown. Trine only managed 300 yards and allowed 356, but the Thunder defense came up with three turnovers, including a 79-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Myron Puryear. Puryear racked up five tackles. Blaek Combs led the defensive effort of the Thunder with 17 tackles. Combs also picked off one pass.

Trine has won four of the last five meetings against Albion and is one of two unbeaten teams in conference play. The Thunder is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.

Adrian stepped up defensively as it rolled to a 27-3 win over Alma on Saturday. The Bulldogs limited the Scots to 116 yards and did not allow a touchdown against an MIAA opponent for the second consecutive game.

Shaun Hladki racked up six tackles, and Hunter Juntunen tallied five tackles. Taylor Copacia made his first start at signal-caller and looked good, completing 15 of his 25 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Adrian actually trailed 3-0 after one quarter but took a 10-3 lead into halftime and never looked back. The Bulldogs are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league and will take on Trine this Saturday in a battle for first place.

Inside the NCAC

Ohio Wesleyan is still in the running for the NCAC championship after a 26-22 win over DePauw on Saturday. The Battling Bishops are 3-0 in the conference and are 5-0 for the first time since the 2001 campaign.

Mason Espinosa delivered a stellar performance, completing 31 of his 55 passes for 346 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and 10 of his completions found the hands of Calvin Cagney. DeVaughn DuBose racked up 10 tackles to pace the defense, which limited DePauw to 198 yards. Ohio Wesleyan rolled up 391 yards.

Kenyon is off to its best start since 2006 after knocking off Oberlin 30-13 on Saturday. The Lords are 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Kenyon also started 3-2 six years ago.
Carlo Gagliardo caught seven passes for 55 yards to pace the receivers on a day when six players caught at least one ball. Dan Shannon threw for 176 yards on 20-of-29 passing and completed three touchdown passes.

Kenyon limited Oberlin to 242 yards and Kollin Sullivan paced the defense with 12 tackles, including two for a loss. He also picked off one pass.

Quick look at the Tartans and Spartans

Carnegie Mellon went over the 400-yard mark for the fifth time this season as it surged past Denison 41-21 on Cindy Lackner Memorial Football Day.

The Tartans (5-1) jumped on top 13-0 in the opening quarter and led 27-14 at halftime on a day when they tallied 427 yards. Denison finished with 394 yards.

Patrick Blanks rushed for 155 yards and scored three touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. He also moved into seventh all-time on the school rushing list with 1,900 yards. The Tartans tallied six sacks in the win, and Awkesi Brefo led the defense with nine tackles while Jack Butler and Alex Basinski came through with seven tackles apiece.

Case Western Reserve built an early 17-0 lead against Wooster and then held on for a 31-28 victory over the Scots on Saturday in the final Baird Brothers' Trophy Game. The Spartans have won their last six games against Wooster and are 3-3 on the season.

Erik Olson was 12-of-26 for 224 yards and three touchdowns while Ricky Hanzlik rushed for a career-high 77 yards on 17 carries. Adam Watson, Kevin Nossem and Ryan Ferguson all had big days defensively, tallying 13 tackles apiece. The Spartans, who won 12 of the 25 games in the annual trophy battle, finished with 413 yards while holding Wooster to 303 yards.

Inside the OAC

Baldwin Wallace needed to step up defensively in crunch time to hold off Ohio Northern 22-20 in a thrilling OAC game on Saturday. The Polar Bears had a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion but Max Wagner and Joe Fitch applied enough pressure to force Tate Humphrey to throw an incomplete pass.

Wagner tallied five tackles and Fitch added three tackles for the Yellow Jackets, who held a 276-270 edge in total yards. Ryan O'Rourke completed 15 of his 26 passes for 140 yards and one score.

Notes

Clinton Orr rushed for 110 yards and two scores for Albion in its 27-22 loss to Trine on Saturday. Orr is the leading rusher for the Britons this season, tallying 569 yards and 12 touchdowns...John Douglas was one of four players to tally eight tackles in Allegheny's 10-0 loss to Chicago on Saturday. Douglas tallied two tackles for a loss and a sack as he pushed his TFL total to 11. The Gators were shutout for the first time since a 3-0 loss to Westminster in 2003. Douglas has racked up 24 tackles on the year...Michael Atwell threw three touchdown passes to pace Hope to its first MIAA win of the year. Atwell completed 19 of his 30 passes for 261 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes to Taylor Brynaert. Atwell is 120-of-220 on the year and has thrown for 1,372 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brynaert has caught 34 passes for 427 yards and four scores....Mark Myers threw for 309 yards on 18-of-31 passing and completed one touchdown pass to pace John Carroll to a 61-14 win over Marietta on Saturday. The Blue Streaks won their second consecutive game and Myers is 96-of-158 for 1,367 yards on the season. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes.

Contact me

I love hearing from the readers and feel free to share your thoughts in addition to potential story ideas. Also, don't hesitate to let me know something remarkable a player or team did in a game. You can reach me at brian.lester@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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