Fairfield 14 Solon 54
The football careers of 15 Trojans came to an end Friday in Fairfield’s final game of the regular season. Though Solon spoiled the going away party by beating the Trojans 54-14, Fairfield can take solace in finishing the season above .500 at 5-4.
Solon came into Friday’s matchup 7-1, its only blemish a 34-0 route at Iowa City-Regina on Sept. 2. Since then, the Spartans had run roughshod over their southeast Iowa competition, winning by an average of 35 points per game.
The Spartans lived up to their billing as one of the best teams in the state by staking out a 41-0 lead by halftime. Despite the large deficit, Fairfield refused to die and outscored Solon 14-13 in the second half.
“I thought we played much better in the second half,” said Trojan head coach Mike Schenck. “We just didn’t have any answers for them in the first half.”
Schenck said he knew Solon would be tough but hoped his team could stay within striking distance, which proved to be a tall task.
“We talked to the kids at halftime, and especially the seniors, about not giving up, and they did a pretty good job in the second half,” he said.
A pair of long runs
Fairfield’s first touchdown came on an unlikely play from its own 10-yard line with about eight minutes to play in the third quarter. The Trojans struggled to move the ball in the first quarter, but on this play they moved it 90 yards into the end zone.
Quarterback Cameron Baumann ran an option in which he could either hand the ball to Brandon Smithburg or keep it and run it himself. He decided to keep it, and after a terrific block by Tristin Waugh, he managed to elude the remaining defenders between him and the end zone. Eric Swan kicked the extra point through the uprights to make the score 47-7.
Schenck said the long touchdown run put Baumann over the 1,000-yard mark for rushing yards during the season, an impressive accomplishment for a quarterback.
The Trojans’ second score came courtesy of Smithburg in the fourth quarter. Smithburg was given the ball on a power play and able to find a seam and break a tackle to carry the ball 43 yards for six points.
“It was a nice way to finish his four years in Fairfield,” Schenck said.
Friday’s game ended a rollercoaster season for a Fairfield team that had seen its fair share of highs and lows. One of the highlights of the year was knocking off No. 4-rated Williamsburg to begin the season. The Trojans followed that up with a huge 45-14 win over Knoxville, but in Week 3, Fairfield dropped a game to West Burlington-Notre Dame that it felt should have gone in the win column.
Fairfield rebounded to beat Keokuk on the road but then had two of its worst games in back-to-back losses against Washington and Oskaloosa during which the Trojans committed 11 turnovers. Fairfield won its homecoming game against Fort Madison easily, and followed that performance by stealing a win away from the Panthers in Mt. Pleasant to secure a winning record.
Schenck said his team did very well at holding onto the ball against Solon, committing only one turnover, but the team had other problems.
“Solon was able to run right at us,” he said. “They have a nice little receiver in No. 4 [Graeson Dall], and we needed linebacker coverage on him because we didn’t have anybody quick enough to keep him under wraps.”
Schenck said 2016 was one of his most enjoyable years coaching.
“The seniors have been great all the way through,” he said. “Two started for us for four years, Cameron Baumann and Michael Fritz. They obviously have great talent and leadership. I told the team Friday I was sorry the season came to an end the way it did, but you only get one chance at these things.”
Schenck said the district was stronger this year than it has been in many years. Outside of Fort Madison, which never won a game, Schenck said there were no “gimmies” in the district, and that each team had to play well on Friday night to get a victory.
In the final game of his career, Baumann went 10-22 in the passing department with 101 yards through the air. Baumann also ran the ball for 105 yards on 11 touches. Smithburg picked up 60 yards on eight tries. Steeler Higdon had two carries for 11 yards, and Cade Lisk ran the ball once for five yards.
Waugh caught two passes for a total of 36 yards. Lisk caught four for 31 yards. Hunter Hoskins corralled two passes for 16 yards, and Smithburg caught one for 11 yards. Carson Crile had one catch for seven yards.
Fritz led the team in tackling with 5.5, including one solo tackle for a loss and one assist on a tackle for a loss. Trenton Hanen had five tackles, three by himself. Crile brought down 3.5, including two solo tackles for a loss. Waugh had three tackles, including a solo tackle for a loss.
Kyle Roberts and Higdon had three tackles. Smithburg and Hoskins each had 2.5. Austin Winslow tackled two Spartans, and Chris Hanson brought down 1.5. Also recording tackles were Baumann, Lisk, Jose Rojo, Alex Sisomphane, Denver Schultz and Aaron Haines.
Swan made both of his extra-point attempts. Baumann punted the ball five times and averaged 31 yards per punt. Hoskins returned four kickoffs for an average of 12.3 yards, while Lisk returned three for an average of 15.7. Smithburg returned one for nine yards.
The seniors who played their final game in a Trojan uniform Friday are Schultz, Roberts, Sisomphane, Josh Kessel, Simon Spalla, Rojo, Smithburg, Baumann, Fritz, Dallas Peebler, Spencer Else, Winslow, Hanen, Hanson and Brian Buch.
8 Trojans make All-District
Fairfield finished its 2016 football campaign with a record of 5-4. The winning record was made possible by a number of standout performers, and eight of them were fortunate enough to be named to the All-District team.
Four Trojans were selected to the All-District first team, and four were placed on its second team. The Trojans’ representation on the first team consists of three seniors and a sophomore. The seniors are Cameron Baumann, Michael Fritz and Brandon Smithburg. Tristin Waugh represented the sophomore class.
Baumann was one of the most dynamic players in District 5 as he played a critical role in the Trojans’ offense, defense and special teams. In his fourth year as Fairfield’s primary signal caller, Baumann ripped apart offenses with his arm and his legs. He threw for 883 yards and 11 touchdowns while gaining even more yards on the ground, 1,041, to go with 14 rushing touchdowns. He also caught a pass for a touchdown.
As a defensive back, Baumann amassed 30.5 tackles and four interceptions. He was one of the best punters in the state as his 41.8 yards per kick put him second in Class 3A. Baumann was the lone Trojan to be nominated to the All-State team, which he accomplished as a punter/utility player.
Like Baumann, Fritz was a starter all four years of his football career. He was the team’s leading tackler as a junior when he brought down 41 ball carriers. Fritz took his game to another level in 2016 when he collected 67 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss and one sack. Fritz was one of only five players nominated to the Shrine Bowl.
Smithburg was another Trojan who was active on both sides of the ball, serving as the team’s leading running back as well as one of its top linebackers. He averaged a solid 5.1 yards per carry on his way to raking in 726 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Smithburg was third on the team with 41 tackles, and brought down four ball carriers for a loss while intercepting two passes.
Of the 36 players on the All-District first team, Waugh was one of only two sophomores, and Trojan head coach Mike Schenck is sure glad to have him around for another two seasons.
Defensive coordinators went nuts searching for a coverage to contain Waugh. His 435 receiving yards were sixth most in the district. Of receivers in the district with at least 22 catches, only one averaged more yards per reception than Waugh, who finished with 19.8. The sophomore tight end was also a terrific defensive end as his 32 tackles put him fourth on the team, not to mention the 10 tackles for a loss he contributed.
A couple more seniors made the second team, and they were Trenton Hanen and Kyle Roberts. Juniors Steeler Higdon and Cade Lisk were also named to the second team.
Hanen was sixth on the team in total tackles with 28. He also had a solo tackle for a loss and a sack assist. Roberts had 19 tackles, two solo tackles for a loss and a solo sack.