FREDERICKTOWN — For the third time in four years, the Fredericktown Freddies are on the doorstep of a Region 19 championship.
And for the second time in the 2010 postseason, the Fredericktown football team will face an unfamiliar foe.
The Oak Hill Oaks are the two-time Southeast Ohio Conference Division I champions. They come in to the tournament as the number one seed in District 19. That, in itself, is unfamiliar. After all, this is only the second postseason appearance in the school’s history. Their first appearance was last year, when they fell in the regional semifinals.
But that was so last year.
The Oaks have won 26 of their last 28 games. Their only losses came in last year’s playoffs and in week 5 this season against Minford. In that game, the Oaks were missing their two best players due to injury for virtually the whole game.
If the Freddies are intimidated, they sure don’t look it in practice.
“They’ve got a lot of nice athletes,” Fredericktown head coach Brian Baum said of Oak Hill, “We’ll just have to go out there and play our game.”
Oak Hill (11-1) relies on quarterback Jesse Slone and running back Westen Hale. The pair were named Southeast District Co-Offensive Players of the Year, and are the school’s all-time leaders on passing yards and rushing yards, respectively. Stone has a 65-percent completion rate, averaging 9 1/2 yards per attempt. Hale has averaged nearly 160 rushing yards per game this season, and has found the end zone a total of 24 times.
And they aren’t even the team’s best all-around athletes.
Observers bestow that honor to wide receiver Joey Maynard, who has 33 catches for 426 yards. Maynard also handles punt and kickoff return duties.
Those skill players are Baum’s biggest concern.
“They have better skill players than what we’re used to seeing. We have to match up with them well and stay focused. We have to play man-for-man with them. If we can do that, we’ll be successful,” Baum said.
So far, that’s been the way it’s gone this season. The Freddies have matched up with everyone. Tyler Hathaway. Ryan Logan. Matt Smith. Austin Hoeflich. Joey Burns. Nathan Cubbage. The list of skill players goes on and on. Although Oak Hill has great athletes, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to cover everyone on every play.
When the defense takes the field at Hamilton Township Stadium on Saturday, Fredericktown (12-0) will have to contend with Chris Fairchild, the six-foot-two, 280-pound defensive lineman who was named Division V First Team All-Southeast District. On the other side is Drew Cannon, a hard-charging 255-pound lineman. Beyond those two, however, the Oaks rely on speed; not a single member of their front seven weighs more than 200 pounds.