Injuries have kept last year’s state semifinalist from reaching the same success this season.
But Brooke Hill and his Greenwave football team are expecting South Tahoe to put up a fight tonight when the Vikings travel to Fallon for a crucial league battle at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex. Fallon (2-1) and South Tahoe (1-2) battle at 7 p.m. with the game being broadcast on KKTU 99.5 with longtime announcer Larry Barker calling the play-by-play and ex-Greenwave quarterback Randy Beeghly providing the color.
“They made it to the state semifinals last year. They’re going to throw the ball around,” Hill said. “The (McCallan) Castles kid is a Division I player. He’s a definite force. We’ve got to be conscious where he’s at all the time. They’re very comparable to last year.”
The Vikings suffered a 26-0 shutout last week at Fernley where the starting quarterback sat out the game because of a lingering injury from the week before. Castles left the game in the first quarter because of a hamstring injury.
But Hill and Co. are preparing for the Vikings rebounding from a two-game losing streak.
“We’ve had another great week of practice, probably our best week, so that’s good,” Hill said. “Since our loss to Fernley, our kids have responded really well. They’re starting to figure out what it takes to win in this league. They understand it’s a process throughout the week and they’ve got to trust that process.”
After a fourth-quarter collapse against Fernley three weeks ago, Fallon’s scored 40-plus points in wins over Truckee and Wooster. A combination of explosive scoring in the air and on the ground, the defense creating turnovers and the special teams putting the Greenwave in good starting position has the team playing its best football of the season.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Hill said of the 41-0 win last week against Wooster. “The slow start was more due to bad snaps. Especially after halftime, our kids came with a purpose. Offensively, our execution was pretty good in that second half. We were pretty solid defensively most of the night.”
Turning the attention to South Tahoe, Hill said Fallon continues to find ways to improve in practice, putting extra emphasis on defense and special teams. Through four games, Fallon’s already racked up seven interceptions, including three from junior Sean McCormick. Last year’s team had 14 interceptions in the regular season and postseason. Seniors Trent Thorn and Clayton Steelmon and junior Brenden Larsen have shined defensively.
“It’s our guys getting in good positions and working on their technique and understanding the game plan better,” Hill said of the defense.
The key to tonight’s game in containing Castles at receiver, especially if quarterback Peyton Galli returns, is isolating the damage as much as possible and sustaining drives offensively.
“Keep him off the field. That would help us. He’s a kid who’s going to get his,” Hill said of Castles. “You just try to minimize it as much as you can. You truly don’t stop a kid like that.”
Sophomore quarterback Elijah Jackson has completed almost 60 percent of his passes (39 of 67) for a 187.5 yard/game average and has thrown nine touchdowns against no interceptions. Junior Reid Clyburn leads a balanced rushing attack with 83.3 yards per game, followed by Jackson (44 yards/game) and McCormick (26.5). Clyburn also has five rushing touchdowns.
The duo of sophomore Brock Richardson and McCormick has been torching the secondary. McCormick leads the team with 98 receiving yards per game and four touchdowns, and Richardson has 75.8 yards per game and five touchdowns. Both also return kickoffs and punts with Richardson at a 45.7-yard kickoff return average and McCormick at 24.8 yards per punt return.
“They know that our guys are explosive and they want to block harder because they know at any point, our kids can break it,” Hill said of his special teams. “They’ve been doing a good job. We spend a lot of time on special teams in practice. The kids know it’s important because we make it important. A kickoff return or punt return, even a defensive score, they are such huge plays.”