Morgan Cotter knows how to make a first impression. The former defensive coordinator at Marysville took over the head coaching spot at Fairbanks High School in 2007 and delivered a nine-win season with a playoff appearance. This year’s team will carry even higher expectations, as 16 starters return, including the entire offensive and defensive lines.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Stephen DeRoads (6-1, 180, sr.), S/RB Tyler Boerger (5-11, 175, sr.), OL/MLB Aaron Anderson (6-0, 225, sr.)
Morgan Cotter knows how to make a first impression.
The former defensive coordinator at Marysville took over the head coaching spot at Fairbanks High School in 2007 and delivered a nine-win season with a playoff appearance.
“The season went real well, especially for my first season coming into a new school,” Cotter said. “The kids were real receptive to what we want to do as a coaching staff. We had great senior leaders – kids who were selfish and who were willing to move positions. We had great parent and community support for what we were doing and the changes we made, so it was a great, positive season for being a first-year head coach and coming into a new situation.”
The season was a big stepping stone for Fairbanks, who should be able to build upon their playoff experience.
“I think our kids learned a lot, just from how to compete,” Cotter said. “We played a great West Jeff team and got beat 34-0, but it was a 14-0 game going into the fourth quarter, and we just kind of ran out of juice. But our kids never stopped competing in the game. On our roster last year we had 28 kids, so we just kind of got worn down towards the end of the game. But our kids learned what it is to become a playoff-caliber team and what it takes to move on in the playoffs.”
This year’s team will carry even higher expectations, as 16 starters return, including the entire offensive and defensive lines.
“It’s real exciting,” Cotter said. “We didn’t lose a single offensive or defensive lineman from last year’s team. We lost of our skill players and a lot of our offense, but we have our entire offensive line intact and our entire defensive line intact. Looking at that standpoint, I’m real excited about being able to move the football, being able to control both the offense and defensive line of scrimmage. We have good, young skill kids coming up; it’s just one of those things where like every year, every team’s looking for a couple kids to grow up and step up, and that’s just where we are right now with some of our younger kids.”
In addition to the experienced lines, Cotter expects his team to benefit from strong leadership and quarterback play.
“Our strengths will be our senior leadership because of our offensive and defensive linemen,” he said. “Another strength is, our quarterback’s coming back, and I believe as a senior he’ll be a four-year starter at quarterback – Stephen DeRoads (1,149 yards passing, 12 TD), who has done some great things for us and been a great off-season leader. Tyler Boerger’s (513 yards, 6 TD) coming back. We should be good enough to run the ball.
“What we’re going to have to work on is some of our new skill kids at the receiver positions and filling in the defensive back positions. It’s going to be a little bit of growing, but they’re just going to have to be up to speed with the expectations we set.”
This year’s schedule is highlighted by an intriguing matchup with Mechanicsburg.
“Our regular season challenges come early with Triad – they were down a little bit last year, and they should be up and running again,” Cotter said. “Southeastern, who has a new coaching staff. Game 3 is with Mechanicsburg, who is always a perennial playoff team. Then once we get into the league, Riverside’s always up and we play them in Game 4. Then Lima Perry in the middle of our schedule, then we look down there at the end at Waynesfield-Goshen. We always have a highlight on Week 10 with Waynesfield because it’s become a natural rivalry over the last four or five years from things I’ve read and seen.”
Overall, things look promising for this year’s Fairbanks team. The expectations are high, both within the team and around the community.
“Definitely,” Cotter said. “The expectations are high. The excitement’s high. I had one of those old-time guys in the community said, ‘Coach, I’m not sure what you’re going to do for your encore.’ I told him I probably should retire. But the excitement’s high. The expectations – we’ve set expectations where we want to be competing for league championships every year and making the playoffs every year. We want to start making those steps to that elite level. It’s going to take a few years, but we have great building blocks. We have great administrative support and great parent support, so I think we have the right things to do it now. It’s not one of those where our plan is going to be five or eight years down the road. Our plan is let’s start competing now and let’s start doing those things now.”
8/22 at North Lewisburg Triad
8/29 Southeastern Local
9/12 DeGraff Riverside
9/19 at Lima Perry
9/26 Upper Scioto Valley
10/3 at Yellow Springs
10/10 Ridegeway Ridgemont
10/17 at Marion Catholic
10/24 at Waynesfield-Goshen