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PREP FOOTBALL: Fairley rises to the top of 2A with on-field dominance

by Liaudwin Seaberry Jr. —

When Fairley High School football coach Frederick Copeland evaluated his squad heading into the 2021 season, he was unsure of the caliber of team and players who would be on the field. 

While understanding his unit featured a mixture of experienced and young players, Copeland’s biggest concern centered around the lack of football activity for most of the players, because of COVID-19. 

“I knew the players would be there, but with not having a season last year, I was not sure of how everyone would look when it was time to take the field,” Copeland said.

“However, I do know that my team worked their butts off to get where they are today.”

Sitting at 7-0 overall, with one victory due to forfeiture, the Bulldogs rest at the top of the 2A class of teams, with three games remaining on their regular season schedule.

Throughout the first six on-the-field contests, excluding a victory over Manassas via the forfeit route, Fairley has outscored opponents by a total of 234-12, averaging 39 points a contest while surrendering only two points a game.

The amount of work the team put in during the offseason is paying off in the eyes of Fairley running back and defensive back Carmelo Hollingsworth. 

“We knew that entering the season we had the opportunity to be really good and potentially make a run,” Hollingsworth said. “We either were going to have to take care of business every week on the field or we would lose.”

Taking care of business has been something the team has been doing in multiple ways since spring football. 

Fairley coach Frederick Copeland remodeled the team’s weight room, a move that registered with some players as a culture shift. (Courtesy photo)

For example, Copeland remodeled the team’s weight room. That move caught the attention of starting center Howard Passmore, a transfer from Westwood High School. 

Passmore realized it signaled a culture change and it made him understand both the kind of team he would be playing for and the caliber of coach he would be performing under. 

 “Playing for Coach Copeland is great because he and the coaching staff put us in the best position to make plays, whether it be on the offensive or defensive side or the ball,” Passmore said.

“His ability to provide motivation for us has translated to good play on the field.” 

While taking the team’s dominant performances on the field in stride, players such as Nelly Price are not content with just making noise early in the season.

“Coach Copeland has been keeping us motivated and we know that our final three games against Freedom Prep, Mitchell and MAHS (Memphis Academy of Health and Sciences) will not be easy for us to handle,” Price said. 

“However, I am confident that we can keep it together and finish perfect on the season.”

Proud of his team’s work so far, Copeland knows there still is much room for growth and improvement. 

“We expect the best out of our players and they’ve provided that so far,” said Copeland, “but there’s plenty of season left to compete in.” 

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