Take a look at the Fairfield football roster and one thing sticks out.

The Falcons will be very young and inexperienced for the upcoming season.

Dillan Weatherton is the lone senior and there are 21 freshmen and sophomores.

It's safe to say that first-year coach Matt Thacker has walked into a challenging situation.

"We have 36 kids and hopefully a few freshmen will show up," said the 41-year old Thacker, who will be a head football coach for the first time. 

"We'll have a JV team. I'm looking to add freshman games once we get to a certain number I'm comfortable with. I feel it's important to have a freshman team separate. They're not ready to play on the varsity and only some are ready to play on the JV. I want to do what's best for them and our football program. I want them to play against kids their own age. Football is a long season and, hopefully, we'll stay healthy.

"Fortunately, we have kids that are working extremely hard. I couldn't be happier with what the guys did over the summer and what they've done over the first two weeks of camp."  

Thacker, who has been an assistant coach at Whitko, Lakeland and Warsaw, says that seven or eight guys will play both ways.

"It's not ideal, but you know it is what it is," Thacker said. "That's the state of football for a lot of smaller schools. Hopefully, are conditioning will pay off."

Thacker, who is taking over a program which has gone 1-9 the last two years, is watching closely all areas of the team and making changes.

"We're work in progress on both sides of the ball," Thacker said. "Monday (Aug. 6) was our worst practice. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all pretty good as far as understanding assignments and responsibilities. We're not perfect. We're just working at getting better every day."

On offense, Thacker is installing the triple-option, with sophomore Cory Lantz as the starting quarterback. 

"We're going to run the ball," Thacker said. "We're going to try to be like Navy's football team. We feel as a coaching staff in order to compete against teams on our schedule and conference it would be better for us to be a triple-option offensive team.

"Cory understands and grasps what we want to get out of the quarterback position. Our offense suits his athletic ability. As the summer went along and over the first two weeks of preseason camp he's been more of a leader as well. He definitely has the tools to do special things this year and down the road."

Running backs in the mix to share carries are Malachi Walters, Joe Newcomer and Carson Abramson.

Providing the blocking will be Glen Tharp, Mike Stout, Noah Osborne, Jarrett Senger and Peyton Hendrix.

"I like what I've seen from these guys," Thacker said. "They get off the ball well and pay attention to what is needed to be a good offensive line.

"Glen Tharp is a good leader and taking charge. He's getting guys to understand what we need to do and how we need to do it. Mike Stout is a sophomore who could be pretty special."

Thacker plans on imploying a 3-5 defense.

"We want to be as fast as possible on defense," Thacker said. "Having three down linemen allows us to have more athletes on the field."

Players being counted on to contribute on defense are Dalton Cripe on the line, Newcomer at linebacker, Brayden Short at linebacker, Colton Fisher at linebacker, along with defensive backs Peyton Gall and Quinn Kitson.

"Short is a lifting machine," Thacker said. "His strength is pretty surprising for a sophomore and he has the speed to go with that. Joe has gotten better throughout the summer. We have a lot of unanswered questions at the cornerback position."

On special teams, Thacker is turning to an offensive lineman to handle the placekicker duties.

"More than likely Mike Stout will be our kicker," Thacker said. "That's different for me. I've never had an offensive lineman be a kicker. He can kick. He's a soccer style kicker. He's a pretty good athlete and very coachable too."

Fairfield opens up its schedule this Friday at Goshen.

"We have a pretty daunting schedule," Thacker said. "But I feel there no reason to back down. Life and football are about challenges."   


2017: 1-9 (0-4 NECC Big)

Aug. 17: at Goshen

Aug. 24: NorthWood

Aug. 31: at Central Noble

Sept. 7: Culver Academies

Sept. 14: at West Noble (c)

Sept. 21: at Angola (c)

Sept. 28: Garrett (c)

Oct. 5: Lakeland (c)

Oct. 12: at Churubusco

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