BENTON — If you ask Bob Miller “what’s new?’’ in Fairfield football, pull up a chair — the answers may take awhile to explain.
Aug. 22 — at Mishawaka Marian
Aug. 29 — NorthWood
Sept. 5 — at Central Noble
Sept. 12 — Fremont
Sept. 19 — at West Noble
Sept. 26 — at Angola
Oct. 3 — Garrett
Oct. 10 — Lakeland
Oct. 17 — at Churubusco
The Falcons have two new opponents — Mishawaka Marian and NorthWood — to go with a revamped Northeast Corner Conference schedule, a new quarterback in Mitch DeWitt, who converted from fullback, and a new look to their base offense. Garrett returns to the NECC after leaving in 2005 and joins Lakeland and Churubusco as the final three games of the FHS lineup.
Fairfield, though, will enter the 2014 season with six seniors, one of its smallest classes in decades. Miller, who begins his 14th season as head coach, shares three things fans needs to know about the Falcons:
DeWitt’s in Charge
"We’re going to try to keep things as minimal as possible for him at the start, the things he’s going to be able to handle,” Miller said, “but what’s impressed us is that he takes as much as we can give him. He’s the best athlete we’ve seen at the quarterback spot since Kendon Troyer. He’s the strongest kid on the team and he’s the fastest. I’m not sure we’ve ever had that at quarterback.
"Mitch has really shown an ability to learn, the mechanics, the nuances, ballhandling, the footwork. He’s understanding and getting it done. He’s got a good football IQ. His secondary play has really helped him understand being a quarterback.”
Tweaking the Offense
"We’ve always worked at running the ball, but with the tailbacks we’ve had, it wasn’t always ball control,“ Miller said. ”When you’ve had kids like (Cameron) Kitson, (Alic) Vanover and (Derrick) Yoder, now you have that type of athlete with the football in his hands each time. The plays look a bit the same, but it’s more fullback-quarterback-oriented, a lot of play-action, sprint out passes. And we’ve got some big targets in 6-3 Clay Bontrager, 6-3 Wes Coble and 6-3 Sam Brown. With those kids, if you throw it in their ZIP code, they’ll get it.“
"The opportunity with Garret rejoining the conference and splitting into divisions again, the first thing our AD (Mark Hofer) talked about was our schedule,” Miller said. “To get better, we’ve gotta play better teams. For four years, we went unbeaten in the conference, but then we saw Luers, we saw Jimtown, we saw Harding, but those were in the sectional or sectional championship games.
"We see quality teams through the years, but we like doing it early so we can see where our kids have to be.”
Follow Bill Beck on Twitter @BillBeckTruth and @eTruthsports.