Wave football ready to spoil Spartans’ season | NevadaAppeal.com

Wave football ready to spoil Spartans’ season

Thomas Ranson
Cade Vercellotti (22) has been grinding up the turf this season against 3A foes.

They’re not used to being the underdog at home.

But that doesn’t make it wrong if they want to embrace it.

“We haven’t lost many home games. It’s new to us, definitely,” Fallon football coach Brooke Hill said. “The kids are up for the challenge. We do have three losses but we have three tight losses against pretty good football teams. All of those are on the road. We’re going to battle a good team and try to get a W when you’re the underdog. There’s nothing better than that.”

This time last year, everyone was looking up to Fallon in the stands but now, there’s a new alpha. Undefeated Spring Creek, which handed Truckee its first loss, visits the Lahontan Valley tonight for Homecoming. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex and the game will be broadcast on KTUU (99.5) with Larry Barker calling the play-by-play and Randy Beeghley providing color commentary.

“Things are pretty upbeat. The kids are energetic,” Hill said of this week’s practice. “It’s Homecoming week. We’ve had a good week of practice. We want to have a good showing this game.”

After a tough, triple overtime loss at Elko two weeks ago, Fallon got back on track against Sparks, posting a 35-0 road victory. Fallon rushed for 319 yards and the defense held strong, allowing only 188 total yards. One of the big differences was throwing Justin Marlin into the trenches.

“I thought we were pretty good up front,” Hill said. “The offensive side is starting to gel. (Justin) is a big physical, kid and he did a good job for us. We’re starting to really identify who we really are as a football team.”

Fallon senior running back Cade Vercellotti let his legs do the talking as he rushed for 208 yards on 19 carries (10.9 average) and scored four times. Quarterback Conner Nelson added to the ground attack with 62 yards on seven carries (8.9 average) and completed 5 of 8 in the air for 63 yards.

The objective is simple if Fallon wants to upset Spring Creek tonight.

“We’ve got to make sure to grind out first downs and control the ball and control the offense that way,” Hill said. “Our offense has to get first downs and put the ball in the end zone when we have opportunities.”

Defensively, Fallon’s secondary prevented Sparks from reaching the end zone, including Dalton Kaady’s interception at Fallon’s own 1-yard line. The senior defensive back scurried down the field for a 99-yard score. Kaady had two picks on the night and Brock Uptain’s returning to full strength as he had one interception.

Tonight’s game, though, presents a unique challenge, Hill said.

The Spartans have the best quarterback in the league, and it’s not even close.

Senior gunslinger Jon Jund has completed 74 percent of his passes (125 of 170) for 2,130 yards and 27 touchdowns against four interceptions. South Tahoe’s Tommy Cefalu is the second-best in passing yards with 929.

“We knew they are very good. They’re 7-0 for reason,” Hill said of Spring Creek. “They do what they do very well. They have good schemes and are going to throw it a lot. Jund at quarterback is a player of the year type of kid. They’ve got some weapons. They’ve got some kids we knew were going to be good.”

Supporting Jund down the field are junior receiver Dakota Larson (54 catches, 1,086 yards, 15 touchdowns) and senior wideouts Laine Keema (19 catches, 361 yards, four touchdowns) and Matt Schanks (9 catches, 220 yards, three touchdowns).

“We were challenged with South Tahoe. I thought we handled it fairly well,” Hill said of the last pass-threat quarterback. “We had some breakdown in coverage but we’ve handled it well since then. They present unique challenge. They throw it a lot. We’ve got to be sound in coverage and tackle well in space. We can’t have assignment errors. We have to line up and play football.”

Aside from controlling the line of scrimmage, Hill said it’s going to come down to which team can execute where it matters. In the Spartans’ 63-34 win over the Wolverines last week, they led by only two points at halftime. Five lost fumbles later, Truckee saw its undefeated streak end as Truckee was able to trade turnovers in for touchdowns.

“Who executes the best in crunch time,” Hill said about what could determine the outcome. “They’re a good football team and won lot of good football games. These kids in this program have won lot of football games, too.

“There’s always crucial points in a game where you can take control. If we get that opportunity, we’ve got to seize that.”