Grinding out consecutive playoff wins has the Fallon football team poised to make history.
With a 34-24 win over Moapa Valley last weekend in the Division I-A state semifinal, the Greenwave are one win away from their goal of a state title. Fallon’s journey ends, one way or another, against Faith Lutheran at 4:05 p.m. Saturday at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno.
A victory would snap a 35-year title drought and put the program up with the I-A’s elite. Steadily, Fallon coach Brooke Hill has built a power, but this year’s club has taken the program to new heights.
With each win, especially in the playoffs, Fallon is slowly removing the memories of being a punchline. Now, the punch is coming from the Wave at the cost of their opponents.
Last year’s team broke down mentally the final three weeks of the season. After a humbling loss to Lowry to end the regular season this year, the jury was out on how the team would respond.
Well, the Wave slugged its way past rival Fernley, a game they trailed in twice, and through Moapa Valley, who had been in the past four state title games.
In a pair of tough games, Fallon’s mindset was just as tough. The club battled through injuries, deficits and turnovers to find a way to win.
Survive and advance, it doesn’t matter how, just get it done. The Wave has and are poised to win a title.
Make no mistake, Faith Lutheran is a formidable opponent. The Crusaders are led by coach Vernon Fox, an eight-year NFL veteran.
His job will be to rein in wide outs Cameron Matzen and Tyler Bagby, a duo no team has defended well this year, outside Lowry. Fox, though, played defensive back in the NFL and will no doubt game plan around those two.
But Fallon has many weapons including running back Trent Tarner and quarterback Morgan Dirickson. Those seniors, along with Dakota Schelling, Brennan Lewis and others, must continue to display the leadership if they want to lift the trophy.
The loss to Lowry, echoed by just about all involved with the program, turned out to be a blessing. The reality check showed a championship is earned with toughness and a refuse-to-lose attitude. Not by an attitude of entitlement.
The Wave has adapted those positive qualities and more in the past two weeks. The defense forced eight turnovers against the Pirates and must add a few more to the total on Saturday.
They need to, as Faith Lutheran has the capability of putting up big numbers.
Still, other than the hiccup at Lowry, no one has slowed the Wave’s pace. Even with the loss of senior Hunter Holcomb on the defensive line, freshman T.J. Mauga and sophomore Talen Cordes have eased concerns about the weakside of the line.
Their stellar play has given confidence to the varsity veterans and coaches and will carry over to Saturday’s showdown.
The town is ready to explode in excitement, Hill and company just need to strike the match.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor of the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.