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Fort Frye hosts Barnesville in regional semi

BEVERLY — Fort Frye and Barnesville have gotten to know each other pretty well in recent years.

Dating back to 2016, the two football programs have faced off four times, with the Cadets winning each meeting.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, the Shamrocks will visit Beverly in a Division VI, Region 23 semifinal game, making it five straight years the teams have met.

Unlike last week when Fort Frye faced a very unfamiliar Africentric team (a 51-12 Fort Frye win), Cadets head coach Eric Huck expects familiarity to play a factor in this week’s matchup.

“I definitely think it does,” Huck said. “They know us pretty well, and we know them pretty well. I think that plays in.”

The last time Fort Frye played Barnesville in the playoffs was 2016, when the Cadets beat the Shamrocks 40-19. That was also a regional semifinal contest. The teams have met in the regular season each of the past three seasons, with Fort Frye coming away victorious by scores of 36-0, 42-20 and 55-7.

Despite the recent success against the ‘Rocks, anything can happen in 2020 and Huck isn’t taking Fort’s opponent lightly.

“They’re physical,” he said. “They play really hard. They’re a disciplined team with a nice scheme. They present problems on both sides of the ball because of how hard they play.”

Guided by head coach Blake Allen, Barnesville comes into the game with a 6-2 record, averaging 29.6 points scored and 17 points allowed per game. Their two losses were to Beaver Local (36-15) and River (27-0).

“They run the ball well,” Huck said.

Barnesville’s rushing attack features ball-carriers Gage Hannahs and Cameron Woods. They aren’t one dimensional, though, as quarterback C.J. Hannahs can throw it around with Spencer Bliss as one of his top targets.

“They throw the ball well, too, and have some nice play action off their run game,” Huck explained. “The quarterback can run as well. One of our goals on defense is to stop that run game. They’re good at it and our defense is going to have to be ready.”

Fort Frye, which is 8-0 and scoring 36.3 points per game while allowing just 6.4, has proven to be able to stuff opposing running games. Plus, when the running game isn’t working, opponents have found it difficult to pass as Fort’s defense has recorded 29 sacks as a team.

“It’s definitely something we work on, pretty much every day in practice,” Huck said of the pass rush. “It’s important getting pressure on the quarterback and making sure he’s not comfortable. It helps out our secondary.”

Braden Medley leads the way with seven sacks while Brady Kutscherenko has six. The relentless pass rush has also forced quarterbacks into bad decisions, as the Cadets have 13 interceptions. Jaymison Baker leads the way with five while Nic Hart has four.

Offensively, look for Fort Frye to pound the ball on the ground with a rushing attack led by Owen Brown, who has 61 carries for 494 yards and nine touchdowns. Brian Adkins (71-430-6), Maeson Long (44-348-3) and Collin Welsh (65-318-4) will also get plenty of carries.

In the pass game, quarterback Ian Ellis is 54 for 79 for 812 yards, seven TDs and four picks this season. His top receiver has been Baker, who has 15 catches for 287 yards and two scores.

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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