Fallon meets Spring Creek again with state berth at stake
The Greenwave football team is experiencing some déjà vu.
For the second-straight season, Fallon will have to go through Spring Creek in order to reach the state playoffs after faltering last year to the then-top-ranked Spartans on the road.
This year’s rendition is only similar in the fact that Fallon will be making the long, four-hour journey to Elko County. The Greenwave, though, enters Thursday night’s contest with more confidence and healthier than when these two teams played three weeks ago and even during last year’s playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and Larry Barker (play-by-play) and Randy Beeghly (color) will call the game on KTUU 99.5.
“We’re in pretty much the same position as last year,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “I think we’re playing a bit better this year. We played pretty well against Sparks. We have to find a way to go there and find a win. It’s the same situation as last year. Our confidence is a little bit stronger at this point than last year.”
The winner will advance to the state semifinals but who and where are still to be determined. If No. 1 Fernley loses to No. 4 Truckee, the Fallon-Spring Creek winner will host the No. 2 seed from the south. But if Fernley wins, then the Vaqueros will host and the north’s second seed will travel to Las Vegas. The title game is in two weeks and will be played in the north if a northern team advances.
No. 3 Fallon made a strong statement in its playoff win against No. 6 Sparks last week while No. 2 Spring Creek sat idle. The Greenwave quickly jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter as it cruised to a 49-14 victory over the Railroaders.
Fallon relied on junior quarterback Sean McCormick’s arm and legs and sophomore running back Brock Richardson to dash any dreams for Sparks advancing in the playoffs. McCormick ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns while throwing for 80 yards. Richardson, who’s healthier now than against Spring Creek, rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, junior Tristan Rodarte had a breakout game with 11 tackles, McCormick increased his league-leading interception total to eight with two more and senior Christian Nemeth also had an interception.
That extra confidence boost from the offense and defense gelling against Sparks will be needed against Spring Creek, which defeated Fallon to snap a two-game losing streak to Truckee and Fernley last month.
The key on Thursday, however, will be how Fallon starts compared to the first meeting. Spring Creek scored on its first play of the game, took advantage of special teams and offensive miscues and led 35-7 at halftime. Fallon, though, outscored Spring Creek, 18-7, in the second half.
“You take away that start and we’re in the game,” Hill said. “We have to match their intensity. We played physical pretty much most of the year and we have to go up and do that there.”
Hill said Thursday’s game will be won in the trenches. Spring Creek dominated the line of scrimmage, both on offense and defense, preventing Fallon from getting into rhythm with the running game. As a result, junior quarterback Sean McCormick was forced to throw more.
“They did a good job against the run too,” Hill said. “Sean threw it 48 times. We have to do a better job in the run game.”
Defensively, it’s about containing running back Jason Painter and receiver Dakota Larson, two of the best in the state. Painter leads the league with 1,687 rushing yards, 184 points and 25 touchdowns, while Larson is second in receiving yards with 897 and fifth in touchdowns with 14. Fallon held Larson in check last month but Painter took advantage of the offensive line and was able to gash the Greenwave defense.
“We have to do a good job containing them,” Hill said. “They’re a good football team. They’ve won a lot of football games.”
In essence, Fallon will need to command the trenches on both sides if it wants to continue the season next week.
“It comes down to they’ve out-physicalled us the last couple of times. We can’t have that,” Hill said. “We have to match their physicality. We have to win the line of scrimmage.”