The new season begins this weekend for five Fallon youth football teams.
Fallon’s chapter of the Sierra Youth Football League advanced five of its seven teams to the playoffs, beginning with the quarterfinals on Saturday in Fernley and Reno.
“We’ve always had a good showing as a league and we’re pretty competitive,” Fallon Youth Football League commissioner James Richardson said. “Most of our teams make the playoffs and we have one undefeated team that appears favored to win the SYFL championship.”
Fallon finished undefeated in the Renegades division with an 8-0 mark while the Greenwave posted a 6-2 record in the Junior Varsity division. The three remaining teams – Bandits, Mavericks and Varsity – each finished with 4-4 records to end the season in the top eight of the standings to continue their season for another week.
The Renegades and Bandits teams will travel to Fernley High School on Saturday as Fallon faces Reed at noon and Lassen at 8 a.m., respectively. The Mavericks team will take on Wooster at 10 a.m. at North Valleys High School while the JV team plays Lassen at 4 p.m. followed by the Varsity against Hug at 6 p.m.
“We’re excited for the weekend and we get a rematch against Lassen,” said Richardson, also the JV coach.
Richardson has been with the league since it started a program in Fallon nine years ago. Richardson coached the same group of kids to six championships when he entered the league and is now with a different group that made it to the title game two of the last three years. The six-time championship team is the same group of sophomores headlining the high school’s varsity team, which hosts Fernley in the playoffs tonight.
The connection between the success of the SYFL and high school programs has been smooth as the youth group tries to mimic the Greenwave with similar offense and defense formations.
“I believe we’re staying consistent. We’re still competitive,” Richardson said. “The kids are more prepared. The success in high school is part of that. The kids are more prepared. We run a lot of the same principles.”
The semifinals are next Saturday and will most likely take place in Reno depending on the jurisdiction of teams advancing after this weekend. All seven championship games, though, will be played at McQueen High School in two weeks.
The Collegiate and Freshman teams missed advancing to the playoffs.
“We had a good season. We were down in numbers but we improved every week,” said Tom McCormick, who coached the Collegiate team. “The kids have a bright future. Fallon’s football future is bright.”
Fallon’s Pop Warner league finishes its season on Saturday but will not send any teams to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The Mity Mites team ends the year with a 6 p.m. game on Saturday at Golden Eagle in Sparks. The Tiny Mites, Unlimited and PeeWee teams finished their season last week.
Citing the economy and a late start, Fallon president Ralph Ratti said the Sagebrush Empire had to bend its eligibility rule to allow teams with low numbers compete this season.
“We had plenty of players on the young squads and they did OK,” Ratti said. “They’re keeping the kids playing and that was the whole idea, to keep the kids playing.”
The low numbers, though, haven’t dampened the mood with Ratti and his association. They’re already signing up the returning players for the 2014 season and will open registration for newcomers in January.
“We’re already working on next season,” he said. “I don’t care what people say but the economy has a lot to do with it. We’re going to have fundraisers and will be starting signups in a week or two. We’re giving the returning players first opportunity before we go out.”