Now it matters.
Now it is time for the Fallon football team to plug its holes, fine tune its advantages and open the Northern Division I-A slate with a win.
Coming off a tough 34-23 loss to Tokay (Calif.), the Greenwave hits the field in their home opener at 7 p.m. today against Truckee at the Edward Arciniega Complex.
“It’s league now, so now it counts,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “Our guys have to be ready for that. That’s a team (Truckee) that shows they are not going to quit. We have to play physical because they will.”
Two positives stood out for Hill after last week’s game. First, his squad was physical and second, the run defense was stout.
Tokay’s veer running game was held in check thanks to Michael Porras’ breakout game as he tallied 11 tackles including a sack and four tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. Riley Williams tallied eight tackles and Johnny Mayo added six.
“We held up really well and did a really good job against their run,” Hill said.
On the flip side, the secondary and run game must improve. But, Hill said, playing a quality opponent to open the season was designed for the purpose of finding those holes and adjusting heading into league play.
Tokay hit several big plays through the air including a 50- and 99-yard touchdown passes. Fallon, however, was breaking in two new starters — and several other players rotating — to the secondary.
Still, Hill said focusing on passing assignments and coverages was priority this week as Truckee quarterback Tyler Davis threw for 209 yards and a pair of TDs during the Wolverines’ 40-28 loss to Yerington last week.
“We got some athletes, but it’s the playing time,” Hill said. “Hopefully, we can limit those big plays. If we can do that, we should be in good shape. It’s similar in a lot of ways to last year against Cardinal Newman (Calif.). That’s why you play those games.”
Offensively, however, Fallon quarterback Connor Richardson was impressive in his starting debut as the senior completed 13 of 24 passes for 206 yards and two TDs and ran for 91 yards and one TD.
But the Wave suffered a big blow when senior running back Trae Workman was limited due to a knee injury. The workhorse tried to gut it out, but managed just 41 yards.
As a result, Workman will be sidelined for at least the Truckee game, which leaves Brock Uptain as the featured back.
Richardson, who Hill said worked the screen game well, was aided by receivers Evan Bitter and Cade Vercellotti, who led the receiving corps with 86 and 80 yards, respectively. Bitter also had a 50-yard TD reception.
“We’ve got to establish the run better,” Hill said. “We looked at ourselves as coaches and what we were doing and probably could’ve done a better job of getting the run game going. Connor played well and made plays with his legs.”
As for Truckee, the Wolverines bring their traditional Wing-T offense to Fallon. It’s also the first time since 2012 Truckee has played at Fallon.
But the Wolverines’ offense, and team, is much improved with a core juniors anxious to return Truckee to the top.
But Fallon’s defensive front, meanwhile, showed it has the potential to be the best unit in the league. Although it’s a contradiction, the senior interior linemen are inexperienced.
Despite the lack of reps the past several years, Hill was impressed by the line’s performance against Tokay.
Truckee, though, was led by Carson McCarron, who had 73 yards on the ground, while Cole Harrity added 61 and a score.
“Even though they are inexperienced, they are seniors,” he added. “We were pretty physical and obviously our linebackers running to the football did a really, really good job of stuffing the run. I was very happy with our front.”