Photo courtesy Gene Twardzik Fonda-Fultonville head coach Tom Carpenter, left, smiles as Jack Derby (50) runs off the field during Saturday's game against Cairo-Durham in Fonda.
Photo courtesy Gene Twardzik Fonda-Fultonville halfback Pat Hart runs on a play during Saturday's game against Cairo-Durham in Fonda.
Photo courtesy Gene Twardzik Fonda-Fultonville junior linebacker Zach Nizet is shown during Saturday's game in Fonda against Cairo-Durham.
By MICHAEL KELLY
FONDA -- The members of the Fonda-Fultonville Braves football team left Saturday's locker room looking like anything but a club that had just played a grueling game.
Instead, following Saturday's 40-14 win at John G. Boshart Field, the Braves had the look of a relaxed club ready to hit the most crucial part of its regular season.
"We can't take anyone lightly now," junior halfback Pat Hart said.
After three wins by a combined score of 122-32 in Section II Class C South Division play, the Braves (3-0, 3-0) play host Saturday to Watervliet (2-1, 1-1) before heading to Chatham (3-0, 3-0) in Week 5.
As F-F heads into a pivotal point in its season, here are five key takeaways from the Braves' first three rounds of action:
1) Heads are on right
After three blowout wins, here's what senior co-captain Zak Shaw had to say when asked what his club needed to improve: "Really, we have to work on everything." That's been the company line for the Braves, who have approached the 2013 campaign with a let's-get-better-each-day attitude. In truth, though, the only place the Braves have struggled at all this season has been defending scrambling quarterbacks, an area which head coach Tom Carpenter has said his team will work on this week.
2) The O-Line has answered the call
With four starters lost to graduation or transfer, the Braves' offensive line -- which did not allow a regular-season sack in 2012 -- lost four of its five starters coming into the season. But the group, which includes new starters like Matt Georgia and Mitch Hayes, has performed well in 2013, keeping quarterback Russ Williams upright and providing running gaps for fullback Anthony Sinicropi and Hart.
3) LBs are living up to their potential
Knowing they had a surplus of skill at the linebacker position, the F-F coaches switched from a 4-3 to a 4-4 base defense prior to the start of this season. So far, the group of Josh Maybury, Zach Nizet, Shaw and Sinicropi has defended well against both the pass and the run, while blanketing the middle of the field.
4) Two-way Turner is a reality
Midway through the 2011 season, the Braves talked about getting Will Turner on the field, full-time, and the same was said about the 6-foot-7 defensive end/tight end in 2012 -- but it never came to fruition. Now a senior, Turner has become a two-way starter capable of making impact plays on both sides of the ball. More plays with the team's best athlete on the field is a huge plus for F-F, as Turner draws major attention from opposing coaches because of his size and skillset.
5) Hart on the attack
The raw offensive numbers are somewhat pedestrian for Hart, but the junior has become a much more explosive and well-rounded player this season. Hart's only rushed for 239 yards through three games, but he's averaging 8.2 yards per carry; he's caught at least one pass in each of the Braves' games, with his receptions going for an average of 10.8 yards per reception; and, Hart's been a constant highlight in the return game, with multiple 50-plus-yard punt returns.