Fairless wins PAC-7 football championship led by Hunter Campbell

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H.S. Football Week 10: Fairless 42, Tuslaw 12

Fairless Falcons are co-champions of PAC-7 with Triway after beating rival Tuslaw on Oct. 22, 2021, for the Blue Cup trophy.

Benjamin Duer, The Repository

BREWSTER — The magnitude of the moment was clearly felt.

You saw it in the postgame huddle when exuberant head AJ Sarbaugh checked off every Fairless football accomplishment during this magical season.

You saw it when junior Luke Yoder proudly raised the Blue Cup.

You saw it when the Falcons gathered around one of their favorite student fans confined to a power chair as he held the trophy.

Fairless Falcons Football: ‘Refocus and regroup’: Fairless football still has much to play for after unbeaten run ends

After 42 years, this is what a league championship looked like.

Fairless put the finishing touches on an amazing regular season with a 47-12 win over Tuslaw on Friday. The Falcons earned a share of their first league title since 1979 (they shared it with Triway) and reached nine wins for the first time.

“I’m just living in it, just living in the glory,” said Hunter Campbell, whose 151 yards rushing and four touchdowns helped push Fairless over the top.

Sarbaugh spent four years working toward this moment. Some told him not to take the Fairless head coaching job in 2018. Some said he could not win there.

“We have great kids, a great community and a great administration,” Sarbaugh said. “These kids believed in me and our coaching staff.

“We had a common goal. We talked about getting a year up on that banner. Since I took over, each year we got a little closer. This year we finally got it done.”

Despite coming in with just one win, Tuslaw was not going to make it easy.

A Troy Harbeitner touchdown pass to Tommy Snyder gave the Mustangs an early lead. It was short lived. Fairless’ Landyn Seal ran the ensuing kickoff back 60 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

Another big special teams play was the momentum shifter.

With the Falcons holding a 19-6 second-quarter lead, Campbell blocked a Tuslaw punt near midfield. Brody Pumneo, who sprained his ankle earlier, picked up the loose ball and gutted out a touchdown return.

“I think the adrenaline kicked in for the most part,” Pumneo said. “It carried me into the end zone.”

Pumneo spent most of the rest of the game on the sideline. The significance of his return, though, was huge.

“Brody is one of the best competitors I ever coached,” Sarbaugh said. “He hates to lose. … He made a play, and my hat’s off to him. He’s just a kid you want to go to practice with every day.”

Campbell’s fourth TD, in the third quarter, was his most electric run. He bounced off tacklers, reversed field and scored on a 40-yard run.

“It was crazy,” Campbell said. “I’ve done it before. I just see a lane and take it. That’s how I run the ball. That’s how I always have.”

Yoder also caught a 51- yard TD pass from Carson Colucci. Fairless scored 47 straight points before Tuslaw’s Jeremi Strong closed out the scoring with a 16-yard TD run.

Minutes later, the best regular season in Falcons history was complete.

“They have so much to be proud of,” Sarbaugh said. “We’re not done yet either.”

Reach Mike at [email protected]

On Twitter: @mpopovichREP

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