Hill, Richardson, Mauga receive division’s top awards
Fallon’s Northern D1-A regional championship football team cleaned up the major awards to include Coach of the Year and Most Valuable Player as the all-division team has been announced.
Coach Brooke Hill, who has been with the Greenwave football program since 2002 and as head coach since 2009, guided Fallon to a 12-1 record overall and a perfect record in league at 9-0. Voting among the school’s athletic directors who were acting on behalf of each team’s head football coach occurred before the state championship game on Nov. 21.
This marks the third year in a row that Hill has won the Coach of the Year Award, but he prefers to share it with his fellow coaches.
“It’s a staff thing, a great staff,” Hill said. “It’s a veteran staff that has been around for a long time, and we’re all on the same direction.”
Although he is thankful for the coaching award, Hill said winning the state title after 37 years is the best.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s the staff,” he said. “This shows our quality.”
Hill, a former quarterback for Fallon in the late 1980s, has coached Fallon to the top of the league for the past three years, yet he always praises the players.
“I am tremendously happy with their hard work and what they have given throughout the year,” Hill said of his players. “A lot of us are still on a high.”
Fallon senior quarter back Connor Richardson earned MVP and completed 203 out of 298 passes for 2,788 yards and 24 touchdowns. Richardson was intercepted only nine times in 13 games and averaged 214.5 yards per game. In addition to decimating defenses through the air, Richardson also carried the ball 94 times for 585 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 45 yards per game.
“It came together from receiver (on last year’s team) to quarterback,” Richardson said. “I didn’t know what to expect playing quarterback.”
Richardson said learning and following reads of other teams’ defenses and the progress he made paid off for him.
“I went to two quarterback training camps, and during the spring and summer, I worked on all my mechanics,” he added. “It all came together.”
The defensive player of the game was TJ Mauga, younger brother of Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Josh Mauga.
During the season the defensive end recorded 75 solo and 12 assisted tackles and had 10 quarterback sacks. Mauga also recovered two fumbles.
Mauga said his progression goes back to the 2014 season when several Greenwave senior defensive players helped him
“This year I knew I would take a bigger role, and I was doing everything as a defensive end,” Mauga said. “I tried my best every game.”
Fallon had five players named to the first team offense.
Running back Cade Vercellotti had 1,150 yards rushing on 181 carries and scored 19 touchdowns. He was also versatile as a receiver coming out of the backfield with 298 yards on 23 receptions and four touchdowns.
Wide receiver Brock Uptain rushed for 138 yards and two scores, and he nabbed 58 receptions for 877 yards and six touchdowns.
The explosive offense, which gained 2,791 yards, was led by first-team offensive linemen Taylen Cordes, tackle; Wyatt Hampton, guard; and Braxton Hunter, center.
On the second team, wide receiver Conner Nelson finished behind Uptain with 701 yards in 53 receptions, and he scored 13 touchdowns.
The first-team defense included five Fallon players. Defensive end Michael Porras had 66 tackles, 57 of which were solo. Three linebackers made the team: Riley Williams (69 solo tackles, 13 assists); Johnny Mayo (77 solo, 20 assists; and Evan Bitter (76 solo, 10 assists).
Safety Aaron Bitter had 50 solo tackles and 24 assists.
Mayo, Williams, and Evan Bitter each had two interceptions, while Aaron Bitter snagged five errant passes.