Fallon coaches weigh in on North Valleys’ drop to 3A | NevadaAppeal.com

Fallon coaches weigh in on North Valleys’ drop to 3A

Thomas Ranson
Fallon's Whitney Skabelund goes high to battle North Valleys in a non-league volleyball match.

There’s going to be a new sibling to fight next year in the 3A North.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association approved North Valleys’ request to move down to the 3A at Monday’s Board of Control meeting in Reno. The Panthers will compete in the 3A starting this fall until the next realignment discussion in two years. Wooster will move up to the 4A in football, as well.

Along with Fallon and neighboring Fernley, North Valleys puts the northern division at 10 members. It becomes the second team from the Reno-Sparks area to compete in the division with the Railroaders residing in Sparks.

“We kind of heard this was a possibility coming down the road. It really wasn’t a shock,” Fallon football coach Brooke Hill said. “It strengthens our league. It’s going to help their school and participation.”

Since the school opened north of Reno in 2000, North Valleys has played in the 4A. But recently the Panthers have struggled mightily. Although the school’s enrollment more than doubles — or even triples — its future 3A counterparts, athletics participation has been down with almost 1/3 of the students playing sports.

Hill, whose first game as the head football coach came against North Valleys in a home loss in 2009, said the move could hurt the smaller schools in the 3A, especially sports like football, that require larger participation.

“If you’re a Dayton or a Truckee, I see this being a much bigger deal with the lower populations in the league. I feel for those teams in our league that are struggling numbers wise,” Hill added.

For girls basketball coach Anne Smith, she’s familiar with classifications being based on school enrollment as those schools have a larger pool of athletes to choose from. Fallon’s enrollment is hovering near the 1,000 mark but it used to be around 1,500 more than a decade ago.

“Your pool of kids is limited to choose from when you have the smaller schools,” she said. “It’ll be great competition. We’ve scrimmaged North Valleys in preseason the last couple seasons and it’s always been good competition.

“I don’t know if we ever kept score but I always felt we were able to play with them and do just fine against them. That’s only been the last couple of years.”

North Valleys, like most 4A schools, has played in several cross-league games throughout the years. and in the last seven years, the Panthers have won almost 60 percent against the state’s second-largest class.

Last year, Fallon’s volleyball team defeated North Valleys in four games at the Panthers’ gym. The Greenwave hasn’t competed against them too much since Fallon dropped to the 3A seven years ago.

When the 2018 season begins, though, it will come down to putting out the best lineup and sticking to the game plan that has led Fallon to racking up state championships since moving to the 3A.

“In terms of us, we’re going to go out and play,” Hill said. “We’re kind of swapping Wooster for North Valleys. In some ways, it’s going to be different. It just means they’re going to have a bigger pool to pull from. It still comes to having the best 11 out there.”