Fallon coach Brooke Hill was selected the 3A East’s Coach of the Year after leading Fallon to an undefeated season.
After finishing the abbreviated football season undefeated, the accolades came aplenty for the Greenwave.
Fallon nabbed 21 selections to the 3A East All-League team, including Coach of the Year (Brooke Hill), Player of the Year (Levi Andrews), Offensive Player of the Year (Avery Strasdin) and Lineman of the Year (David Palanivelu).
“There’s definitely some deserved kids we’ve had for sure. We had a pretty strong season,” Hill said of his team’s recognition by the league.
The pandemic threw a wrench into the high school sports season, especially football. All fall sports were moved from an August 2020 start date to February 2021. The season was trimmed down to six weeks of games, including a bowl week. No state competitions were held.
Fallon not only finished the season without a loss but the Greenwave managed to complete its schedule without a game canceled due to a COVID-19 case. Because football is considered high risk, each program needed to implement a weekly testing program. Several schools, mainly in the Northern 5A, saw multiple games canceled.
Hill said the team’s mindset since last summer helped pave the way to its success, setting up the team to compete strongly and for a league and state title later this fall.
“We talked about it early on last year when had first meeting probably back in June,” Hill said. “We do this every year. Knowing that we’re going to have to be really flexible. We didn’t use a locker room all year. We stayed outside to avoid COVID. It was a real different year. We kept the kids focused on a goal and they bought in on that goal.”
And Fallon finished its short season successfully and with the recognition to back it up.
Andrews averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game as he was named the Player of the Year. The senior running back, who averaged 211.3 yards on the ground, scored 13 touchdowns in four games and averaged 10.2 yards per carry.
“He had a really strong season. He worked hard to have that great of a season,” Hill said. “Early on, our passing game was not where it needed to be. He really carried us the first two games. He definitely deserved Player of the Year.”
Quarterback Avery Strasdin, a senior dual threat, torched the defenses both on the ground and the air later in the season. Strasdin’s massive heave in the final minutes of the showdown for first place against Spring Creek gave the Greenwave a come-from-behind win. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 626 yards and eight touchdowns against one interception. Strasdin also ran for 343 yards on 41 carries and had two touchdowns.
“His last couple games, he started to get in the rhythm of the passing game,” Hill said. “The passing game is always the part that comes the latest. He definitely got better as year got on as dual-threat quarterback. Had we played a full season, he would have been compared to numbers Elijah (Jackson) put up.”
The only starting lineman left from the 2018 state championship team, Palanivelu, a senior, helped the line create holes and protect the quarterback. And when it was time to go on defense, he anchored the group to shut down the run game and torture the opposing quarterbacks.
“David had a real big year for us. He’s a three-year starter for us,” Hill said. “He had a pretty good career but he stepped it up this year for us as the returning lineman. He played with a tremendous motor.”
Almost 20 seniors played their final game this month and it’s a group that Hill said rose to the challenge after spending the last two seasons playing under several playmakers and record setters like Jackson, Brock Richardson, Ben Dooley and the McCormick brothers.
“These guys have really played second fiddle to those players we’ve had,” Hill said. “They played a lot with us that year (2018). Then last year, having to play behind all these players who done a lot for the program. They bought into that idea and stepped forward and put forth a tremendous season. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s testament to them and my coaches.”
Along with Fallon snagging all but one of the individual awards, three offensive, four defensive and one special teams players were selected to the First Team. Offensive linemen Dylan Valerio and Damien Towne, receiver Kenji Armbruster, defensive lineman Jace Nelson, linebacker Julian Evans, cornerback Tristan Hill, safety Colby Malkovich and returner Tyler Austin earned top honors.
Making the Second Team were offensive linemen Garrett Jarschke and Damien Nestlerode, defensive lineman Cade Barton, linebacker Xavier Capton, cornerback Josiah Rosario and kicker Sam Robertson. Honorable mentions included offensive lineman Logan Simar, receiver Matt Davis and cornerback Keith Smith.