Fitch’s Davion Pritchard, Pitt bound, off to strong start | News, Sports, Jobs

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes
Fitch’s Davion Pritchard stands on the field during the coin toss before the Falcons’ game against Central Valley (Pa.) last week.

Austintown Fitch senior Davion Pritchard sees the challenge in participating in a Falcons secondary that has been one of the best in the area over the past several seasons. During his final high school go-around, he’s even seen his role elevated on the offensive and special teams side of the ball.

Over the summer he made his commitment to the University of Pittsburgh to continue his playing career, but it wasn’t a few years ago when he realized he had the potential to be an emerging football player.

“I started gaining my confidence my sophomore year when I caught my first interception,” Pritchard said. “Just seeing my teammates finally rallying around me, just having that bond and building each other up, that’s what made me feel like I can take it to the next level.”

The aforementioned turnover was snagged during a road win at Warren G. Harding during the final week of the regular season, but Pritchard is a member of a Fitch class that saw a lot of players deal with injuries in the 2021 season.

“I knew I was going to play more that week, so I was just more into the film, just studying what type of route I would get. I was in cover three, and I saw the ball and went up and grabbed it. Ever since then, my confidence has been boosted,” Pritchard said. “Confidence is like 90 percent of the game. I feel like if you have your confidence, you’re going to play faster, play smarter, you’re going to know what you’re doing and just going to feel free out there.”

Fitch coach TJ Parker adds, “We just expect him to be himself, be the leader and person that he is. He’s developed through this program as an athlete and as a person. He’s kinda like the cool, calm guy on our team. When things are bad, when things are good, he keeps a level head throughout and plays his game.”

Fitch has produced a number of Division I football players during Parker’s tenure, but he knows the Pitt commitment carries a lot of added importance and Pritchard has taken that with stride.

“He loves it. He understands it. He understands the weight that’s carried with it, but that’s not why he plays,” Parker said. “He plays for his friends, he plays for himself and he plays to win for this school. The Pitt thing is just a bonus to him, but to have the other guys see what he’s been through and the time that he’s put in to get where he is today, I think that’s a good lead to follow.”

Pitt is led by Ursuline alum Pat Narduzzi, the son of the legendary Youngstown State coach Bill Narduzzi. He brings local ties to the Panthers program, and Pritchard felt that was an environment he can thrive in.

“Since going into my sophomore year, I always had a relationship with (secondary) Coach Archie Collins, so me and his bond only got stronger and stronger. Once I went up there to take my official visit, that’s what solidified it for me,” Pritchard said. “They’re just very all-around, they have a top-20 school academic wise, they compete for a national title, they send people to the pros — they just have everything I was looking for.”

Last season, Pritchard recorded five interceptions and nine pass breakups. This year, he’s already compiled a box score’s worth of stats through week three, including an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during the home opener against Central Valley (Pa.).

Being versatile and playing a factor on all sides of the ball has been the mantra this fall.

“I’m really excited for it. At the beginning, learning the offense, and just trying to get as many reps as I can, it was a little difficult. But now that I know what I’m doing more, it’s a lot of fun,” Pritchard said. “I know that I got these guys around me that are playmakers, so I feel like I can do that too. So I feel like them doing that, and me seeing how they’re doing, that just makes me want to be better.”

Family ties play a factor too. Pritchard’s uncle, Davanzo Tate, coaches the secondary in Austintown. Tate played alongside Parker in high school as a 2003 Fitch grad, later making stops at WVU and Akron in college before competing for the Calgary Stampeders in Canada.

“He’s the reason where I’m at right now. He’s played at the next level and one of the highest levels at the CFL, so he knows what he’s talking about. So I know that he’s going to be extra hard on me and I just have to listen to it with a grain of salt and take in what he’s saying because he’s never going to lead me down the wrong path,” Pritchard said. “Even with my friends, you’ve been growing up with these guys your whole life, now it’s your senior year and last ride with them, (you) just want to put everything out on the line with them.”

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