Creating their own legacy
Devin Sherwood and Tyler Evans set several school records in senior season at Fitch
AUSTINTOWN — Gearing up on a Friday night, helmet strapped on, jersey neat and tidy, there’s a special feeling players have before they take the field for another night under the lights.
The white block “F”, complete with a red border adorned atop of the matte navy Austintown Fitch helmets, means something. The “Fitch”, stitched with navy tackle twill on their road jerseys carries that sense of pride, ditto for the navy home jerseys, with red lettering.
When Falcons like Devin Sherwood and Tyler Evans suit up in that uniform, it empowers them.
It helps when the fathers of both players left their own mark on the Austintown program back in the 1990’s But for Sherwood and Evans, they’ve nearly spent their whole lives around each other.
Whenever the Falcons play their final game this season, later rather than sooner, the duo will have left their mark on the Fitch program, embodying everything they’ve strived for since they were young children with adoring eyes fixed on the Falcons varsity football team.
Now, with the playoffs in sight, and their senior campaigns marching off into the horizon, there’s time for reflection.
Sherwood recently became Austintown Fitch’s career passing yards leader, breaking John Ballard’s (2008-2009) previous mark of 3,391 yards.Sherwood came into the season with 3,032 and has already thrown for 1,976 yards this season while adding 674 rushing yards and 20 total score.
The feeling seeing Sherwood’s name on top of the charts is a surreal feeling for the six-foot, 185 pound dual-threat quarterback.
“It really does honestly, because I remember just growing up, watching the other quarterbacks play like Antwan Harris and Matt Futkos, you never really picture yourself having all those records,” Sherwood said. “It’s just a really cool feeling, it’s an honor to be in that category with the top players.
“I was just raised, you play football for Fitch High School, that’s just what you do, and it’s really just an honor to play here.”
Devin’s father, Don was an outside linebacker and tight end for the Falcons, a member of the 1992 Austintown team that made a run to the Division I state title game before falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius 31-7 at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“Growing up, hearing stories about how they would go down and beat Ignatius and beat St. Ed’s, like, it’s always in the back of my mind, and I want to win some big games going forward into the playoffs.” Sherwood added.
A quarterback isn’t a quarterback without players to pass the ball to and Sherwood has had the opportunity to pass the ball to a lifelong friend in Evans throughout his high school career.
“I remember playing Austintown Little Colts, we came out the same year, we played flag football together, so when we came out for tackle, every day, just going out there putting the pads on, our dads watching us from the parking lot had to be really good memories.” Evans said. “It does feel weird, like who would have thought, but Devin and I put in the work, every summer, every practice staying after, so we worked for what we achieved.”
As a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver, and defensive back, Evans broke a pair of records himself earlier this season. After Fitch’s win over Harding on Friday, Evans has 85 career receptions, breaking the old record of 59 held by Chris Smalldino (2007-2008).
Evans also set the single-season yardage mark with 749 yards heading into the postseason, and needs three more catches to break the single-season reception record. He currently has 41 receptions on the year with three touchdowns.
His father, Scott Evans was a running back for the Falcons from 1992-1995, and his older sister Jordan Evans is currently a captain on the Youngstown State women’s soccer team.
It’s safe to say that Tyler has some competition coming out of an athletic family.
“Looking back at my dad’s pictures, you see that Fitch across the chest, although we have newer technology jerseys, it’s the same Fitch, so it just brings back those memories of looking at your dad and the pictures when you were younger,” Evans said. “When you’re going to have kids, they’ll look at your pictures so it’s a great feeling.
“We’re always joking with each other about who’s the best athlete in the family, so you always just try to work to get that edge.”
Off the gridiron Sherwood plays basketball, and Evans is a long jumper for the school’s track and field program, but the football field is where the pair share the fondest memories, both pointing to a 42-12 blowout road win last season over Cleveland Benedictine as a standout contest.
“We came out and just beat up on them, they probably out matched us physically, but we kinda knew what we had to do going into that game, and it just meant a lot more to us I think.” Sherwood added.
Sitting at 6-3 following a massive 42-33 road win over Harding at Mollenkopf Stadium Friday evening, the Falcons have had to contend with a slew of injuries throughout the 2021 season.
It led to plenty of new faces on the field, making the work that Sherwood and Evans pushed the younger classes come to light.
“Their impact goes so far beyond Friday nights, and what they’ve done for this program, they’ve set the standard on how a Fitch Falcon football player should operate,” said coach TJ Parker. “What an offseason looks like, if you’re playing other sports, what it means to get in the weight room, and find time to train.
“Those two epitomize that, it’s fun to see when our younger guys are really looking up to them, Devin and Tyler are guys that are dragging people into the weight room, dragging people out onto the field when they don’t have to be there putting in extra work. These young guys are getting dragged into it, they don’t have cars, Devin is picking them up, Tyler is picking them up, and they’re all there playing.”