Solid defense propels Apaches to sixth straight win

Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Fort Thomas quarterback Todd Stringfellow sweeps around the end. The Apaches stayed perfect Friday night with a 22-6 victory over the Duncan Wildkats.

By L. Scott Bennett

FORT THOMAS – The Fort Thomas Apaches kept their perfect season intact Friday night when they bested the Duncan Wildkats 22-6. While the Apaches started out quick, the Kats came to play and despite only dressing 11, Duncan kept it close and gave The Fort all they could handle.

“Our defense played really well,” said Fort Thomas head coach Bracken Walker. “I am proud of them. They were able to shut down a very good Duncan football team.”

Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Fort Thomas’ Ramsey Cosen takes down Duncan’s Lucas Basteen (25).

The action started quickly for Fort Thomas.  After forcing the Wildkats to punt after Duncan received the opening kickoff, the Apaches opened with a bang.  Starting their drive at the Wildkats’ 49, the Apaches’ junior signal caller Todd Stringfellow scampered down the field for a 47-yard gain to the 2-yard line. After that, The Fort only needed one more play to get on the board, and Apache senior running back Tagipo Fiame pounded it in for the score. After a failed 2-point try the Apaches were up 6 – 0.

The game remained a battle of the defenses as both teams were held scoreless until late in the second quarter when the Apaches got their second score of the evening. After working their way down the field, Stringfellow hit senior receiver Drake Olivar for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Going for 2, Stringfellow then pitched it out to senior Kendall Stanley, who swept around the end and took it in.  After the successful 2-point play, the Apaches were up 14 – 0.

Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Fort Thomas’ Malachi Rogers (10) breaks through the line.

Fort Thomas got the ball to start the second half, but their drive stalled at midfield. However, the Kats took over for just one play. On the first play of the drive, Duncan coughed it up and senior Desmond Cheney of the Apaches fell on it giving the ball back to The Fort.

Starting their drive on the Duncan 33, the Apaches needed just three plays before Stringfellow called his own number and took it in from the 2-yard line. On the 2-point attempt, Stringfellow hit junior Malachi Rogers and made the score 22-0 early in the third quarter.

The rest of the game was all about the defense. Neither the Apaches or the Wildkats had much luck moving the ball. The Fort Thomas defense was stout shutting the Wildkats down time after time. Perhaps most notable was the play of Kendall Stanley, who had two interceptions on the night.

The Wildkats eventually found the end zone with a little over two minutes left in the game. While Duncan did score, the game had been decided and it was too little too late. The late touchdown brought the score to 22-6, but after an unsuccessful 2-point try the scoring came to an end.

Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Malachi Rogers takes off on a run while operating the Wildcat offense.

The Apaches changed things up a bit throughout the game. Most notably was when they experimented with a spread formation where the Apaches sent in Rogers to run the Wildcat offense. While the Apaches did not find the end zone in this formation, they showed great promise as Rogers had several huge runs and appeared to move the ball at ease.

Coach Walker sang the Wildkats’ praises and commented on how hard they played with such a small squad.

“Even though there were only 11 dressed, they fought hard and gave us all we could handle,” Walker said.

Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Kendall Stanley (3) upends Duncan’s Lucas Basteen.

The Apaches have a short week, with their next game Wednesday night.  During week two of the season, a weather delay and then technical issues prevented Fort Thomas’ game against Salome from finishing. The game will resume in Chandler at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, with the Apaches trailing the Frogs in the third quarter. Originally, the Apaches were scheduled to play Bowie/San Simon this coming Friday, however, the Cougars have forfeited their entire season, so the game will not be played.

While the Apaches will be credited with a win for Friday’s canceled game, they must come from behind to beat the Frogs with only a quarter and a half to play if they want to continue their quest for the perfect season in 2018.  The Apaches will finish their regular season play Friday, Oct. 11, when they take on Arete Prep in Gilbert.