The Lahontan Valley News looks at the top sports stories of 2015, with the top four featured today. The selections are determined by the editorial staff, readers’ input during the year and impact to the overall community and/or area.
1. Fallon football team wins first state championship since 1978
After coming up empty in its first trip to the state championship since the 1970s, the Greenwave football team didn’t disappoint in 2015. Fallon erased a 37-year title drought when it took down Moapa Valley, 34-27, at Reno High School in November. The defense was as strong as ever, special teams dominated and the offense, behind emerging stars at quarterback and running back gave Fallon its first championship in nearly four decades. And it didn’t end there as Fallon was heavily recognized all-state and regional honors, including Brooke Hill as the Coach of the Year, quarterback Connor Richardson as the MVP and T.J. Mauga as Defensive Player of the Year. “It’s been a long time for something like this to happen here,” Hill said. “The kids played tremendous. It’s good for our community. It’s good for them. It just feels real good.”
2. Fallon baseball and softball teams win state championships
There’s no doubt that the brightest diamonds in the region – and state – reside in the Lahontan Valley. The Lady Wave softball team won its fourth state crown in five years and 2015’s trophy was the first for head coach Bill Archer. Despite losing to Fernley in the regional championship, Fallon got the biggest win of the season by defeating the Vaqueros in the state final as the last four championships have been decided between Fallon and Fernley. On the boys’ side, Lester de Braga’s club won the regional title and defeated Faith Lutheran, who won the 2014 title over Fallon, twice in the state tournament to capture its first crown since 2011. “From day one, we’ve tried to coach them that they were the better team at all times. What came in to play was the confidence,” de Braga said after the win.
3. Oasis Academy welcomes first-ever high school students and are allowed to participate in CCHS sports
Three months after the boys lacrosse team earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament, Oasis Academy, a charter school, welcomed its first-ever high school class in August. Students who attended Oasis — or even homeschooled students — were also allowed to participate in athletics as CCHS because of state law. Students also had to follow the same requirements as CCHS but they had to pay an additional fee, which was approved by the board. “In the spring the board approved a policy that said Oasis students could participate in sports and/or classes on a space availably only (basis),” CCSD Superintendent Sandra Sheldon said in August. “That goes along with the NRS. The school district is going to follow the law and that is what the law says.”
4. Josh Mauga signs 3-year deal with KC, makes playoffs
After a breakout season in 2014, Fallon’s Josh Mauga was rewarded with a three-year deal playing linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite an injury that kept him on the sideline early in the 2015 season, Mauga was a key component of a defense that powered the team to a regular-season ending 10-game winning streak. Mauga also notched some personal achievements, including his first interception when he picked off Denver’s Peyton Manning and then recorded his first sack against San Diego’s Phillip Rivers. Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with only one game remaining and battles this month for a trip to the Super Bowl, which will be played in the Bay Area. “As a defense, we pride ourselves on taking the ball away each week in practice and in games,” Mauga said. “So when we have an opportunity to rip a ball out or intercept a pass, we expect ourselves make those things happen.”