Fallon senior Kenji Armbruster punts during Saturday’s practice.
The taste of losing to their cross-valley rival in the 2019 state championship is something Brooke Hill and his football team want to get rid of in a hurry.
And the Fallon Greenwave will finally get its chance after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last Wednesday that football, a high-contact sport banned by Directive 034 in October, can now be played but with strict mitigation efforts, including mandated weekly testing for players and coaches.
“Number one is I’m excited for the kids. The kids needed this,” Hill said. “Obviously, I’ve very excited for them with the opportunity to play and to get close to a full season hopefully. We coaches are happy about it too. We’ve been a little couped up. We haven’t played a game since we lost to Fernley. We still have a bad taste in our mouth.”
After watching some of his athletes lose their basketball and wrestling seasons because they were included in the state’s ban, Hill and his staff quickly got to work after the announcement.
The team had been conditioning this month and was able to practice with helmets on late last week to officially begin the season. Fallon needs to satisfy the requirement of three days of non-contact practice and seven days of full-contact practice before the first game. The Greenwave will practice in pads this week for the first time since November 2019.
Matt ReibsamenFallon’s first game is March 6 against Dayton and the fall season will conclude on April 10 with a regional playoff. All games will be on Saturday to help with the transportation issue. It’s unknown whether spectators will be allowed, but the school set up a camera to stream games live on the National Federation of High Schools Network.“I think the pre-game is something I’m really looking forward to,” senior defender Julian Evans said. “The sound of the helmets and pads strapping up, cleats clicking off the floor, the static that floods your body and you start to see faces shift as they get ready for war. Everything that leads up to the first whistle, to that first crack at the line of scrimmage. There’s just simply nothing like it.”
Fallon football coach Brooke Hill leads his team in practice on Saturday after getting approval from the state and Churchill County School District last week.
One the key stipulations for the season is weekly testing, which must begin before the first game.
Donnie Nelson, assistant director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, said the state is providing rapid tests free to the school districts. They became available to the NIAA from an original stockpile for districts and we’re left unused.
Churchill County School Superintendent Summer Stephens approved the team to move forward with practice while her board works on a testing plan for the school. Stephens, though, said her district will still need to work with the county on securing tests for the entire season, which ends in April. All other fall sports were allowed to practice, and student-athletes and coaches are not required to test weekly.
“Our county is helping us out with our testing plan to help us stand up the testing, so we are ready to go for week one games,” she said. “We are working to access the BINAX testing program that came from the federal Health and Human Services, but it takes a great deal of time with our internal folks, and will run out, to our understanding, at the end of March. At this time, we have not secured the testing procedures we will use for the remainder of the football season but will have something in place to be able to complete the season.”
Senior Colby Malkovich, who will share running back duties with fellow senior Levi Andrews this season, said he was relieved about the news and is ready to be back on the field playing with his teammates and in front of the community.
“I have been waiting and working hard to prepare myself and the team for the chance to play our 20-21 football season,” he said. “Getting a chance to play is great because it's uplifting to athletes, the town and brings people together again. It will be a turning point that shows a small step of getting back to a normal sense of community and life. Personally, I am looking forward to playing side by side with my brothers, making the community proud, and having a successful season.”