The day has come, hopefully, for the Fallon football team to crack the pads.
Like many western Nevada teams, the Greenwave have been limited in their contact the past two weeks. Smoke from the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park has covered much of the region with unhealthy levels of smoke.
As a result, many football programs — Fallon included — have rarely seen an outdoor practice field. Instead, Brooke Hill’s team has taken refugee in the Elmo Dericco Gym for walkthroughs.
“This year is a little bit different,” Hill said. “We probably have more question marks heading into this season than we have in the past. We have a young team.”
Now, the Wave are ready to take to the field in their home opener at 7 p.m. tonight against Wooster. The Colts had their first game at Rite of Passage cancelled last week.
With the cancellations of numerous scrimmages, Hill said his club has no film on Wooster which to prepare. The Colts are in the same boat, but Hill said he is confident his group can succeed, albeit if they are blindfolded.
“We are going in having the expectation of having a tough game against Wooster,” Hill said. “The one saving grace we had is that we went to a team camp in June (in South Lake Tahoe) and so we have an idea of what some of the kids can do.”
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, though, is still being cautious when it comes to allowing outdoor sports to compete. They canceled all of Wednesday’s action for schools residing in eight counties — two in California — affected by the smoke. Today’s game, however, still could be canceled or relocated if the conditions are unacceptable.
On the field, though, Hill’s club aims for start that rivals last season’s. Fallon ran through its opponents en route to a 7-0 record to open 2012.
Like last season, the Wave opened with a 42-0 throttling over the Colts. But this year, many questions linger headed into the season opener including who will step up at wide receiver and in the defensive secondary.
“Trent (Tarner) is a solid back,” Hill said. “We feel like we should be able to run the ball. You might see us a little more run-based early on.”
Despite those concerns, the Wave are led by two seniors on offense — quarterback Morgan Dirickson and running back Trent Tarner — and a solid defensive front — with lineman Justin Hatfield and linebacker Dakota Schelling.
Dirickson said it is important for the younger players at receiver to adjust quickly if Fallon’s passing attack is going to be successful.
“We are definitely excited to get back on the field,” Dirickson said. “We have a young, versatile group that we can do anything we want with.”
Defensively, the Wave use a 4-4 front, which is the strength of the unit coming into tonight’s game. Littered with returners, Schelling and company have confidence they can stop Wooster’s attack, even without watching film.
The secondary, though, is anchored by a trio of new faces and two of whom have limited varsity experience. Tyler Bagby moves from the defensive line to his natural position, safety, while junior Nathan Heck and sophomore Cameron Matzen locked down the corners.
“We’ll be fine,” Schelling said. “Coach (Hill) has prepared us for everything. Anything that pops up on the field is no problem.”