Wave returns for encore
November 13, 2014
This isn't the same group of young men that steamrolled through the competition and played in the school's first state championship in 30 years.
One year removed from an incredible run that saw the Greenwave football team dominant the regular season before knocking off Moapa Valley in a packed, small-college-type atmosphere, Fallon is back again.
Like last year, Fallon breezed through the league schedule but capped off an undefeated slate in the Division I-A before humbling Lowry in consecutive weeks including the first round of the playoffs. Now, the Greenwave will turn their attention to another Southern Nevada school, Desert Pines, on Saturday as the winner advances to the state championship on Nov. 22.
While last year's team fell short in the finale against Faith Lutheran, suffering a shutout for the first time all season, the 2014 team couldn't be any more different.
Coach Brooke Hill has relied on a different set of playmakers, ranging from a new quarterback to an emerging three-phase star.
Senior Joe Pyle has done well as Morgan Dirickson's successor this season, completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,724 yards, 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Pyle has also executed the read-option this season, as he's just 16 yards away from reaching 300 on the ground.
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But the biggest difference on this year's team has come with senior Nathan Heck.
Heck was a one-man wrecking ball last week in the playoff win over Lowry after he scored both on offense and defense. It was the defensive touchdown, a 100-yard pick-six, that turned the game around to give Fallon a 14-0 lead instead of being tied at 7.
It's not just Heck and Pyle, though, who have helped Fallon reach familiar territory. Scrolling down the roster, I see about every player on this team is a contributor.
Charles Fulks and Jake Ernst have eaten up yards rushing the ball, while Connor Richardson, Jordan Schultz, Dylan Jabines and Cameron Beyer have been Pyle's favorite targets in the air. The defense has been stellar as well, ranging from Justin Hatfield, Hunter Holcombe and T.J. Mauga terrorizing quarterbacks to Richardson, Heck and Aaron Bitter clouding the secondary, making it nearly impossible to throw deep. Forget about trying to escape past the trenches, as linebackers Riley Williams, Evan Bitter, Johnny Mayo and Trae Workman will be waiting.
The Greenwave haven't lost any steps from last year's group, proving this program is becoming the new Truckee of the North. The only thing missing is a state championship plaque and banner to proudly display on campus and throughout the community.
Fallon hasn't lost a home game since the regular season finale to Lowry last season. But it was that loss that transformed this group into a team to be feared in November.
There are no second chances in the playoffs and the Greenwave has showed in the past, especially last year, the North has the talent and skills to overcome any team coming from the South. Fallon showed that last year beating Moapa Valley at home and it has another amazing opportunity this weekend with Deseret Pines.
Like Hill keeps preaching, Fallon football is the only show in town, especially this month. The Greenwave have brought on the encore this season, with aspirations that Fallon will be the last team standing on the stage, surrounded by thunderous applause, a standing ovation and roses.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.