Wave football eyes state playoffs repeat

Fallon opens 2022 season against 5A Reed

Fallon junior quarterback Bryce Adams receives good protection from the offensive line in a scrimmage against North Valleys earlier this month.

Fallon junior quarterback Bryce Adams receives good protection from the offensive line in a scrimmage against North Valleys earlier this month.

 Thomas Ranson / LVN photos
Fallon junior quarterback Bryce Adams receives good protection from the offensive line in a scrimmage against North Valleys earlier this month.
Fallon senior Steven Moon wraps up a Carson opponent during a scrimmage this month in Reno.

For the first time in three years, the Greenwave football team is feeling a sense of normalcy going into this Friday’s season opener against Reed.


After the 2020 fall season was postponed to the following spring because of the pandemic and condensed to a short, six-week season, Fallon and the rest of the region still ran into issues in the first half of the 2021 fall season. Players were out sick, forcing some teams to bring up JV players or throw players into positions they hadn’t played since their youth football days.


But this season brings optimism for Brooke Hill and his program.


They were able to travel to a summer team camp and then competed in a pair of scrimmages this month, helping to prepare to open against one of the most consistent programs in the Northern 5A.


Fallon and Reed kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex. The game will be broadcast by Larry Barker (play-by-play) and Randy Beeghly (color) on KKTU 99.5 FM.


Fallon returns a good chunk from last year’s team, which surprised the region in the playoffs when it upset No. 1 North Valleys in Reno to advance to the state semifinals.


Thomas Ranson / LVN photos
Fallon senior Steven Moon wraps up a Carson opponent during a scrimmage this month in Reno.


“A lot of them have experience. That’s important, to get that kind of playoff experience,” Hill said of last year’s team, which played in three playoff games. “They understand the level we have to get there. We’re not there yet, still. It’s a process. We have a really strong team that can challenge for another title.”

After this week’s opener, Fallon jumps into crossover play when it hosts Sparks next week before traveling to South Tahoe and Truckee. The Greenwave opens its 3A East schedule on Sept. 20 against Dayton.


With last season being the first when teams played a crossover schedule in the Northern 3A, it gave teams a few weeks to iron things out before competing against divisional foes.


“You approach it differently. You still want to win and compete in every game. You want to build for those league games,” Hill said. “Those crossover games still count. We want to perform well. We want the ability to tweak things. When it was nine straight league games (in 2019), you had to be dialed in from the get-go.”


While the crossover games still impact the standings, especially the last four playoff spots, Hill said the next three weeks give his team an opportunity to prepare for its division. Fallon will host Elko, last year’s 3A East champ, in October for Homecoming before hosting Fernley on Senior Night. Fallon travels to Spring Creek and Lowry, who both notched wins last week.
“Elko returns a lot of kids. They won the league last year and beat us up there,” Hill added.


 “We’re definitely looking forward to Oct. 7, when we get them back here at home. Lowry looks to be improved. Spring Creek is going to be a challenge. They’re a pretty good football team and well coached.”

Nonetheless, Hill knows Fallon has a high ceiling and wants to see his team continue to improve each week and peak in time for the playoffs.


“Every week, we see them getting better and better. I’m excited to see where we are going to be in Week 5 and Week 10,” said Hill, who is also the team’s defensive coordinator and coaches the linebackers. “They’re young but there’s a real high ceiling with this team. They’re real hard workers.”


OFFENSE
New to the helm of the offense are junior quarterbacks Bryce Adams, a southpaw, and Brady Alves.


Adams’ strong arm was on display during the scrimmages, as he does best in the pocket, whereas Alves has more speed and can cause disruption for the defense.


“Brady’s pretty mobile and throws the ball pretty well on the run. He can execute the run game,” Hill said. “Bryce is traditional, steps back and throws it. The thing about Bryce is he can make all the throws. He’s a pretty big kid.”


Adams and Alves will have plenty of options for handing off the ball, beginning with senior Tristan Hill. Seniors Evermar Garcia, Brody Jacks and junior Roland Grondin also will get touches. At the H-back will be juniors Ethan Tarner and Caden McKnight.


“We’re kind of doing it by committee. Whoever is the hot one will get the most carries in that game,” Hill said. “A lot of those guys will play defense.”


In the air, senior Steven Moon returns to lead the receiving corps, along with juniors Carter Paul and Baylor Sandberg. Sophomore James Sorensen comes in as the tight end and Alves will see receiving time, as well.


On the line will be junior Rafe Brown at center, senior Alain Barrera at left guard, junior Sean Reeder at right guard, sophomore Trevor Hyde at left tackle and sophomore Garrett Payne at right tackle. Backups are juniors David Harris and Benito Cortez at guard, junior Case Utter at center, and sophomores Luke Dunkin and Ashton Davis at tackle.


“We’re young up front, with only one senior. We do have three returners,” Hill said. “They’re good and are going to get better as we go. We’re pretty dynamic outside in Moon, and Carter Paul’s done outstanding job for us.”


DEFENSE
The defensive front features Tarner and Sandberg at the ends, along with Sorensen, Brown and Dunkin, who will see time in the mix. At tackle are Reeder, who was a first-team all-league and all-region selection last year, and Barrera. As with the ends, Hill has options at nose guard with Hyde, Davis, Cortez, Harris and Payne.


“Especially early when it’s hot, it’s good to have multiple rotations inside,” Hill said. “It’s good to rotate guys to stay fresh. We didn’t get an opportunity to that until late (2021). We’re a little bit deeper than we were last year.”


The inside/strong linebacker position will rotate among McKnight, Grondin and senior Casamaro White, with senior Jose Ruiz and junior Troy Shelton backing up. The outside/strong set includes senior Jeremiah Prinz, who returns from an injury last year, and Hill, who was an all-leaguer last year and will line up on the weak side. Backups are juniors Wyatt Steffens, Matt Neumann and Skylar Smith.


In the secondary, the corners are Alves, Paul and junior Max McCoy. Moon is the free safety. Backups include junior Jaiden McFadden, seniors Talon White and Lucas Castagliola, and Garcia.


“I feel like we got quite a few guys back on the ball,” Hill said. “Tristan’s a three-year starter. Steven is one of the better athletes in the league. Even though we are still young in terms of grade level, they still played last year. The North Valleys game, we had seven sophomores on defense. They’ve been through it. Now we’re starting to expand more on defense.”


SPECIAL TEAMS
The punting team includes Tarner lining up behind center, while Paul will return punts. Moon will kick the PATs and field goals, with Paul and Moon returning kicks.


“We did some (special teams) in the first scrimmage,” Hill said. “We spent more time on special teams in preseason than we have ever. We’ve been able to get back to that (schemes).”


COACHES
Hill’s coaching staff returns in its entirety, with Motulalo Otuafi running the offense and coaching the defensive ends and offensive line. Tom McCormick is working with the wide receivers, while Jorge Guerrero is overseeing the running backs, defensive backs and outside linebackers.


Riley Horn returns to coach the quarterbacks, Trevor de Braga works with the secondary, and Brian Itskin and Jim Wisdom are working with the defensive line.

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