Friday, September 28, 2001

Indians try to get back on track

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — Part of high-school football is about learning experiences. But all the Fairfield Indians have been learning about recently is hard luck.

        The team, once ranked among the top 10 in the Enquirer's Division I coaches poll, has lost three consecutive games — two in overtime and the most recent defeat in the last minute of a hard-fought battle with Middletown.

[photo] “We are literally three plays from being one of the top 10 teams in Greater Cincinnati,” coach Tom Grippa says of his Indians' three losses.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Trailing only 20-16 against Middletown on the Middies' field, Fairfield seemed to catch a late-game break when Middletown fumbled a punt on its own 19 with 3:11 left to play. Indians quarterback Bryan Wood hit wide receiver Chris Braun on a clutch 7-yard touchdown pass with only 1:37 left.

        But with the clock ticking, Middletown's offense drove to near midfield and speedy wideout Darrell Hunter caught a quick slant that he turned into the winning 57-yard touchdown.

        After nearly a quarter-century of coaching, Fairfield coach Tom Grippa still finds the streak stunning.

        “We are literally three plays from being one of the top 10 teams in Greater Cincinnati. But we're snakebit,” Mr. Grippa said of his 2-3 Indians, who are 0-3 so far in the Greater Miami Conference.

    Some other games tonight that feature neighbors versus neighbors:
    Hughes at Aiken
    Bethel-Tate at New Richmond
    CHCA at North College Hill
    Summit Country Day at CCD
    Williamsburg at Clermont Northeastern
    Mariemont at Indian Hill
    Elder at La Salle
    Winton Woods at Northwest
    Springboro at Miamisburg
    Taft at Western Hills
        But the coach quickly added that “there is no quit in the Fairfield Indians. Our kids are mentally tough and this is a real test of our intestinal fortitude..”

        Their luck could turn tonight as nearby Lakota West (2-3, 1-2 GMC), which Mr. Grippa describes as “one of our biggest rivals,” makes the short trip through southern Butler County to play at Fairfield.

        Across the county line in southern Warren County, another neighborhood rivalry kicks off tonight when Little Miami travels to Kings High School.

        Kings coach Andy Olds said it was resiliency last week and not luck that allowed senior Shane Davis to bounce back from a defensive lapse that allowed what appeared to be a winning touchdown for Goshen High. He took the kickoff 75 yards back to win the game.

        Tonight's match with Little Miami (2-3, 1-1 in the Fort Ancient Valley Cardinal division) finds the Kings Knights (3-2, 2-0 in the same division) ahead of last year's pace that ended with a 6-4 record.

        ““We call this game the backyard rivalry,” Mr. Olds said.

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