At 5-0, the Fairley High School football team is surging behind the leadership of head coach Frederick Copeland.
The Bulldogs entered the 2022 season with lofty expectations, despite losing key members from last year’s team that advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Copeland retooled his roster over the summer and now his team is primed to make a second straight appearance in the 2A playoffs.
With playmakers featured on both offense and defense, the offense’s focal point is freshman running back Quinterrion Hollins. He already has produced two games this season with six or more touchdowns. And, he has avoided the typical “freshman wall” that many ninth graders hit when transitioning from middle school to high school football.
Hollins’ feats have resulted in 17 touchdowns in five games. Copeland no longer views him as a freshman. He’s simply a playmaker.
“We are looking for him to haul in and keep putting up big numbers for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs,” Copeland said.
So far this season, Fairley consistently has scored, racking up 232 points. That eye-catching offensive stat is amplified by the astounding fact that the Bulldogs’ defense has not allowed opponents to score a point.
With defensive playmakers such as junior Jacquan Davis, the city’s leader in interceptions, and senior defensive end Jalen Russell, it has become an uphill battle to score points against the Bulldogs.
“We stay really humble about it,” Davis said, referring to the team’s complete shutout of its opponents this season. “We do our best to outwork the competition on and off the field, and it starts in the weight room and then moves onto the field.”
Discipline and players understanding their respective assignments have been a plus for Fairley. Russell highlighted that when discussing the defensive improvements. As the leader, he is responsible for holding his teammates, many of them being underclassmen, to the team’s lofty standards this season.
“It’s been great to not have given up a touchdown the entire season, and that’s certainly something to be happy about,” said Russell. “However, every week presents a different challenge, and we can’t be thinking about last week’s performance when preparing for a new team to face.”
With five games left in the season, Fairley is in prime position for an opportunity to host playoff games all through the playoffs. However, there are still four district games to play against Oakhaven, King Prep, Mitchell, and undefeated Freedom Prep Academy.
Copeland’s message throughout the team’s success is to take things one day, one practice, and one game at a time. He feels no need to change the mantra now.
“We cannot look ahead to the future because that’s how you get caught off guard and slip up,” he said.
“Our guys have played lights-out this season, for sure, but now it’s about continuing the strong production in every game going forward headed into the final half of the season.”