Consider this week Rivalry Week for the Greenwave football team.
After a humbling loss in California to open the season, the Division I-A state runner-ups have mimicked last season’s success so far, going unbeaten in league play with two games remaining.
And since the realignment dropped Fallon to the state’s second-largest class, the contests with a particular cross-valley rival have more meaning besides pride. Fallon and Fernley will duke it out again tonight in Fernley with more riding on this game besides wins, losses and bragging rights.
The winner of tonight’s game will control the playoff picture and the region’s No. 1 seed. A win for Fallon not only gives it at least a share of the league title but also the Greenwave would be the top seed for next month’s regional playoff. A loss would create chaos among Fallon, Elko and Fernley, which would each have one loss (Elko must beat Dayton on Friday).
Fallon still hasn’t played a complete game this season, usually waiting until the second quarter or even second half (like last week’s win against Spring Creek) to pour on the points.
But Friday presents the perfect opportunity to not only defeat Fernley once again but also secure the top seed. It also allows Fallon to make a statement against one of the region’s best teams, which has been on a roll, as Fernley is outscoring its last four opponents 42-12 on average. Fallon hasn’t been too bad, either, scoring at least 40 points in five of the last six games as it possesses the top scoring offense and defense in the region. Fernley’s the No. 3 team on offense and No. 2 on defense.
The rivalry between these schools continues to grow every season and not just in football.
Fallon and Fernley compete on the soccer field, cross country and golf courses and volleyball court in the fall, while they battle in basketball and wrestling in the winter. The series between the two schools has been even with Fallon maintaining the upper hand, especially after the Greenwave defeated the Vaqueros for the state softball title last spring.
But tonight will be about the football teams as Fallon looks to stay perfect and claim the top seed with only one game left in the season. Fernley must win to make the playoffs and then can worry about seeding as a three-team tie with Lowry lurking would be next week’s storyline.
Fallon has won all five meetings against Fernley in division play, including a 20-12 victory in last year’s regional playoff opener in Fallon. Aside from the regular-season blowout (49-6), each game has been close as the defenses have been on display. Only one shutout has occurred since 2011 with Fallon winning 12-0 in Fernley two years ago.
Expect another battle tonight between Fallon and Fernley in their biggest rivalry game since realignment in 2010. Both possess productive offenses and suffocating defense but one team will emerge, either taking the region’s top seed and increasing the winning streak to six over its rival or creating a tear in the playoff picture.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.