Falcons dominate Nitros in homecoming game and are a win away from playoffs, but things are still up in the air.
By Brandon HENSLEY
This one would have been a yawner if everyone could stop chattering their teeth. A cold front descended upon Moyse Field last Friday, but that could have either been the chilly weather or Glendale’s offense.
The Falcons controlled every aspect of their homecoming game against the Nitros and stayed in position for a playoff berth with an easy 49-3 victory.
It was a special night indeed, with the Falcon mascots wearing top hats and capes, and the homecoming king and queen announced at halftime. At least there was that, because the players certainly didn’t provide any suspense for the crowd, building a 24-3 lead by the end of the first half and never looking back.
The Falcons (6-3, 4-2 in the Pacific League) got an efficient game from quarterback Zac Wilkerson (8 of 12 passing for 109 yards, two touchdowns) and a running game by Marro Lee and William Wang that simply wore the Nitros down.
Lee collected 131 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Wang had 122 yards and scored three times, including a 68-yarder in the second quarter that made the score 17-3.
“William’s awesome,” said Coach Paul Schilling. “He’s a good guy for us to have. He’s like Marro, in that they’re very similar runners.”
“That was the game plan,” said Lee. “We saw on film they had trouble stopping the run.”
The only lapse by CV came on the very first play from scrimmage when Glendale quarterback Evan Norton threw a quick strike to a completely uncovered Muhammad Akhtar, who raced downfield for 77 yards. But the Falcons held Glendale to a field goal, and the next two possessions for the Nitros yielded negative yardage, and that was pretty much it for their attack.
Wilkerson was replaced by Alex Duplessis in the third quarter, but the running game remained sharp. Wang’s 23-yard touchdown made it 41-3 in the fourth at a time when some CV fans left the wet bleachers and headed for the warmth of their cars.
It was another loss for Glendale coach Alan Eberhart, who guided the Falcons for 14 years before resigning in 2006. Glendale is winless in the Pacific League.
Schilling said shaking Eberhart’s hand after the game is always bittersweet.
“They gave us a game at first,” said Schilling. “It’s hard, because you know he’s frustrated. He’s a major mentor to me. He hired me here (at CV), and so I hate to be in that situation.”
Speaking of situations, it couldn’t be better for the senior Lee. He missed the last five games of 2010 because of a hand injury and the team finished 4-6. This year, he’s on pace to break 1,000 yards rushing and help the Falcons to a potential playoff appearance.
“As a team, the way we grew during the year, when we feel a little bit down, we try and pick ourselves up and that happens a lot,” Lee said. “The second half of the season is the most important. It’s the home stretch. I’m excited to have playoffs if we get there – yeah, it’s real fun.”
“One of the goals is to have a winning season, so we guaranteed that no matter what happens the rest of the way,” said Schilling.
But wouldn’t it be better to make the playoffs?
“Totally … it’s big deal to the kids, and the coaches,” he said.
About Those Playoffs
The situation the Falcons find themselves in regarding the playoffs is unclear at the moment. They have one more game to play, Friday against Arcadia, and can finish as league champs or fall to fifth place, which would knock them out.
The Falcons are currently tied for third in league with Pasadena, behind Arcadia and Burroughs (both 5-1). If 3-3 Muir loses Friday to Pasadena, CV is in. If Muir wins, CV must beat Arcadia (the Falcons get in if they win regardless).
Burroughs could have helped out the Falcons two weeks ago when they played Muir, but the Bulldogs were without star running back Zander Anding and lost 28-0.
“Starting last week we consider every game a playoff game,” Lee said.