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Pass-happy Apaches stack up aerial records

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The scoreboard was lit up like never before a week ago at Woodmore High.

Fairview and the host Wildcats racked up 135 total points under the Friday night lights.

Fairview High is in Sherwood, outside of Defiance, 57 miles west of Toledo or about the same distance as the Seneca County Courthouse to Toledo.

The visiting Apaches certainly did their part to keep the scoreboard flickering and flashing, outscoring Woodmore 83-52.

In only his second start as Fairview's quarterback, James Elchinger put together a game to remember. The Apaches scored the most points in a single game in school history and Elchinger passed for an eye-popping personal record of 625 yards while completing 29 of 38 pass attempts, including a state record-tying record nine touchdowns.

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"We expect to go out and score on every possession," said Elchinger, who played wide receiver a year ago when record-setting QB Ryan Radcliffe served as the Apaches' triggerman.

It was initially reported that Elchinger had thrown for a state-record 779 yards, which would have topped the record of 678 yards established by Radcliffe during a game against Ayersville in 2006. However, further examination of the game tape revealed he was credited with more passing yardage than he was due.

Nonetheless, his 625-yard passing effort ranks third in the state record books only to Radcliffe's top-two efforts of 678 and 650. His nine touchdown passes in the game matches Radcliffe and Kirk Jesse, two Fairview alumni, for the state's best single game.

Fairview's first-year coach David Robinson doesn't think any less of his quarterback's effort after finding out it wasn't a state passing record.

"It was just one of those nights when James and my offensive coordinator [Doug Rakes] were hitting on the same page really well," Robinson said. "He [Elchinger] was just seeing it and coach [Rakes] was calling the plays and guys were open."

Robinson, who had been a longtime Fairview assistant, replaced Bob Olwin as the Apaches head coach this season. He made it clear from the beginning that he wouldn't tinker with anything that wasn't broken just to put his handprints on the program.

So, he left well-enough alone when it came to the Apaches wide-open spread offense that is responsible for Fairview being mentioned numerous times throughout state records.

That pass-happy attack will be on stage again tonight when the Apaches (2-0) play host to Archbold (1-1).

"It's been a good transition," said Robinson, who has been a coach at Fairview a total of 12 years. "I made it clear to our school board that the rest of our entire staff was going to stay at Fairview and I still attribute a lot to coach Olwin developing this program from the ground up."

The Apaches passing attack has been the one part of Fairview's game opponents have remained concerned with over the years. Before Radcliffe stepped behind center there was Jesse putting up huge passing statistics on Friday nights for Fairview. Jesse's 602 passing yards against Ayersville during the 2005 season once ranked as the state record before Radcliffe topped him. Now it ranks fourth-best after Elchinger's recent effort.

"Our offense has definitely picked up where we left off from last year," Robinson said. "Elchinger is a different style quarterback than Radcliffe but I'd say it all has a lot to do with our system.

"James worked a lot in the offense and Ryan has been like a mentor to him. While Ryan was in high school he was always willing to help the other quarterbacks."

Despite working primarily as a receiver while Radcliffe handled the quarterbacking duties the past couple years, Elchinger spent part of practice time working as the No. 2 quarterback on the Apaches depth chart.

So, making the transition from the quarterback to the receiver wasn't as difficult a transition as anticipated.

"I've been playing quarterback since the fifth grade," said Elchinger, a senior, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 155 pounds. "Even though I was the backup to Ryan I still got reps in practice.

"I liked playing receiver but I like playing quarterback better."

Ben Wonderly and James Elchinger's twin brother, John, are the primary pass-catchers this season. Against Woodmore, Ben Wonderly hauled in 10 passes for 213 yards, including five touchdowns, and John pulled in eight passes for 173 yards, including three touchdowns.

The Apaches quarterback admits the move from receiver has been made easier due to the fact he had established chemistry with half his main receiving corp.

"We practice together a lot at home," said James, referring to his sibling, John.

And so far, the additional practicing at home seems to be paying off for the Apaches.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302

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