Not too long ago, hundreds of fans clad in green and white crowded Williams Avenue as a school bus drove slowly out of town.
Normally, a school bus riding out of Fallon and to the Biggest Little City is not a big deal but on a warm Saturday afternoon in November, it was one of the biggest days in the city’s history. The Greenwave football team was on their way to compete for the state title against Faith Lutheran and received the best sendoff as many law enforcement vehicles escorted the North’s best football team.
While the outcome didn’t favor Fallon, the team’s success and support were a testament to how invaluable the Greenwave are to this city. And it was not just the football team. Fallon produced many successful seasons this school year as it came to an end last month when the softball team hoisted the state championship trophy.
Another chapter of Greenwave athletics has been written with graduation tonight at the high school and only a few will continue onto the next level in college.
With the many wonderful and exciting memories this season, here are my top five that stood above the rest.
1. Softball team wins state
The Lady Wave softball team, along with the boys track and field squad, was the last state champs as Fallon finished last year empty handed.
Fallon came up short in last year’s state title game against Fernley and vowed to erase that memory in 2014. Behind a more mature and experienced group of girls, second-year coach Bill Archer and the Lady Wave peaked at the right time in the playoffs and dethroned the Vaqueros in the championship “if” game last month in Reno.
Senior Rileigh Ricken’s arm guided Fallon to a regional sweep against Lowry and Fernley before pitching her team to three more victories in the state tournament to give the program its third softball title in the past four years and the fifth overall.
2. Football team finishes second best
If there was any doubt that the football team didn’t have the talent or support to make a run in the postseason, it was vanquished last fall.
Although Fallon was blanked in the state championship against Faith Lutheran, the Greenwave plowed through their league schedule before suffering a hiccup against Lowry in the finale. That loss woke up Brooke Hill’s club as Fallon bounced back with a regional win over Fernley and then knocked off Moapa Valley in the state semifinal in Fallon.
Thanks to a strong defense, potent offense and amazing special teams, Fallon was without question the North’s best football team. And the community surrounded the program and school with enormous and impressive support that rivaled any SEC football school.
3. Support for Coach O
Mitch Overlie should never feel alone, even if he doesn’t coach another sport in Fallon.
The school district’s questionable and poorly handled decision in dismissing the longtime cross country, wrestling and track and field coach nearly overshadowed the wrestling team’s success in the postseason. After the hazing lawsuit was settled in February, Overlie was told he could no longer coach again, although he was not named in the lawsuit. The next day and one day before the regional tournament, Overlie was allowed to finish the season and wasn’t banned for life even though the school district can deny his application.
The city’s strong and overwhelming support for Coach O, though, didn’t overturn the district’s decision to “ban” Overlie, one of the school’s most successful and positively influential coaches who already served a suspension when the scandal broke out a few years ago. But it left a lot of questions unanswered and this is only the beginning
4. Fallon crowns 3 state wrestling champs
With all the circus of Overlie’s fate surrounding the wrestling team, the Greenwave didn’t let the distractions become the headline and just wrestled.
Fallon took second in the state tournament after placing behind Lowry in the regional tournament as well. Trae Workman, Sam Goings and David Hughes each took the state gold, giving Fallon a state champ for the first time in four years. Hughes was arguably the most impressive story this season as he missed the regular season because of an injury. The regional tournament was his first time on the mat, and Hughes never lost.
The second-place finished tied the program’s highest placing at state after the 1999 team took second in the Super State in Elko. The Greenwave also scored the highest number of pins in this year’s tournament.
5. State and regional bound
Once again, Fallon was one of the best representing Northern Division I-A schools in the state postseason.
Along with the softball team winning the crown and the wrestling club taking second, the boys cross country team qualified for state as a team for the first time, the soccer programs reached the regional tournament and the tennis teams qualified several for state in the fall.
The basketball teams made it to the four-team regional tournament but lost in the first round, while the baseball and track and field teams reached state. Fallon finished second in baseball behind Faith Lutheran and members from the swimming and both the girls and boys golf teams made it to state.
The school year produced state champions as well as drama off the field, but 2014 ended successfully with the softball team taking the state championship back from Fernley.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.