One after another, the Greenwave football team started losing its best players against South Tahoe and enters tonight’s game against Dayton hoping to come out healthy and with the win.
“They’ve been really, really good,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said about the team’s response in practice. “One thing is we’ve been dealing with this injury thing all along. We’ve been going with the approach the next guy up. The kids have kind of embraced that.”
Fallon lost Jacob Bake at the beginning of the season and for the year, but added two more to that list, as well as three who will not dress up tonight at Dayton. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. with Larry Barker (play-by-play) and Randy Beeghly (color) calling the game on KKTU 99.5.
“They’re still positive when you lose that many guys,” said Hill, who had to cancel the junior varsity program after bringing up several to varsity and dropping a few back to the freshman team. “Guys are stepping in and embracing that role. Some of those kids are going to push for playing time. It’s helped give us some depth. We’re going to be OK.“
Junior lineman Nick Delgado, junior running back Reid Clyburn and sophomore quarterback Elijah Jackson left last week’s game abruptly with Delgado and Jackson out for the season. Delgado tore his MCL while Jackson broke his patella against the Vikings. Clyburn suffered an ankle sprain. Clyburn and senior linebacker Trent Thorn, who was injured during practice this week, will both sit out tonight’s game. Junior linebacker Russell Vershum will also be out tonight as he nurses a shoulder injury.
While it was difficult for the team to respond to injury after injury against the Vikings, the Greenwave still pulled out a 35-34 win to improve to 3-1 in league play. Fallon sits one game back from Spring Creek and Fernley, both 4-0.
Delgado’s injury was a blow to the offensive line, which already lost Bake, then add in the starting quarterback and running back and it left the team looking for players to step up. And they did.
“When Elijah went down, that place went quiet,” Hill said. “The kids were looking for someone to step up.
“That’s a big loss because he’s (Delgado) a two-year starter. He’s a team captain. He was playing really well for us. We moved him to guard couple weeks ago (from tackle) and helped solidify our run game. We’ll get him back next year. He’ll be all right.”
Junior Sean McCormick, who’s turning into a solid player-of-the-year candidate, stepped in at quarterback and threw two touchdown passes. Sophomore receiver Brock Richardson continued to produce another strong outing, giving Fallon hope going into the second half of the season.
“Sean came in that game and we didn’t miss a beat,” Hill said. “Elijah is a very dynamic player. Sean’s going to do a very good job for us. The mentality is the next man up. They dealt with a lot of adversity with that game and we were able to still get a win against a pretty good football team.”
Fallon flips the page tonight with Dayton, which is still looking for its first win this year under second-year coach Pat Squires. The Dust Devils are a run-first team, like Wooster, and will try to be physical at the line. Fallon shut out Wooster two weeks ago.
“They’re going to be a power run team,” Hill said. “They’re a physical football team. They run the ball better than last year. They’re going to be more like Wooster and power at us. We need to get some stops.”
Fallon’s game plan doesn’t change even with the injuries. Hill said the offense will operate similar as if Jackson were still at quarterback but Richardson will move from receiver to running back. Fallon also gets Tyler Ward back who, along with William Shoshone and Clay Burton, will help stabilize the offensive line.
“We’re getting better and playing better,” Hill said. “When you’re losing some guys, you have to change your perspective. I don’t think we’ve played to our potential and we’ve got to strive to get there.
“We’re doing what we’re supposed to do. I’ve never had a team face this much adversity in this way. It can only pay dividends.”