ELKO – When the Elko football team steps on the field Friday in Fallon, a couple things are apparent.
The Indians need a win after a three-game slide, but Elko will also don some special numbers on the sides of their helmets.
Following the horrific tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting, Elko head coach Luke Sellers felt it was appropriate to sport “91” on the right side of his team’s headgear – offering support, love and prayers for everyone involved in the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“We are thankful that everyone in our program knows who attended the concert made it home. We are remorseful for those who weren’t so fortunate, those who died, those who are injured and those who will be forever affected by the terrible incidents,” Sellers said. “We’re the lucky ones. We get to go play a football game. You see something like that happen and it makes other stuff seem so unimportant. We offer our prayers, support and love for everyone involved. Those are the reasons we are wearing the 91s on our helmets.”
As the Indians get back to business on the gridiron, they have their work cut out for them Friday.
Fallon enters the game in third place of the Division 3A North standings with a 4-1 record in league play, winning its last four games after losing a close, 32-30 ballgame in the league opener on Sept. 1 at home against Fernley (5-0).
The Greenwave’s outlook appeared to take a hit against South Tahoe on Sept. 22 in Fallon, when starting quarterback Elijah Jackson went down with a knee injury – the expected timetable for a return set between six and eight weeks.
Enter junior Sean McCormick.
McCormick threw two touchdowns in four pass attempts, leading the Greenwave to a 35-34 victory.
With a full week of practice under his belt, McCormick and the Greenwave traveled to Dayton last week and hung a 56-0 drilling on the Dust Devils.
McCormick threw one touchdown, but he did most of the damage with his wheels – rushing for 166 yards on nine carries and four TDs.
“Coach (Brooke) Hill and his staff are excellent. They put the kids in good spots and make great play calls. The more time McCormick spends back there, the better they are going to get,” Sellers said. “The first week, they kept the plays pretty simple. They spread you out and create space to run and pass. I think they will start going with more of the traditional, check-with-me stuff as he gets more comfortable when they get to the line of scrimmage.”
Fallon often operates with four wide receivers, generally setting up in a trips to one side.
The Greenwave have weapons in the backfield and on the outside.
Junior Reid Clyburn leads the running game with 424 yards on 53 carries for a team-best six rushing scores.
Four Fallon players have rushed for 232 yards or more, totaling 18 touchdowns on the ground.
Before being moved to quarterback, McCormick racked up a team-high 481 receiving yards on 27 catches and five receiving touchdowns.
He has 298 yards rushing on 30 touches and another five TDs.
A weapon in the backfield and on the edge has been sophomore Brock Richardson.
Richardson leads the team with six receiving touchdowns on 21 catches for 407 yards.
He has also added 244 yards rushing on 13 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
Elko must shore up its run defense Friday.
The Indians have allowed 730 rushing yards in the last three games, giving up 5.6 yards per carry during the span.
Defensively, the McCormick brothers are ball hawks – Sean leading the Greenwave with 74 tackles and four interceptions.
Little brother and sophomore Tommy McCormick has recovered two fumbles and made a pick.
Junior Brenden Larsen leads the Fallon defense with three sacks.
“Fallon has some tough kids. Their defensive ends can bench press people and they have a bunch of fire-breathing dragons behind them,” Sellers said. “We are going to have to mix up what we do on both sides of the ball. We need to play mistake-free football to give ourselves a chance.”
To aid the Elko defense, the offense must step up and keep Fallon’s offense off the field.
In the past three games, Elko has scored 34 points total (13, 14 and 7).
Sellers said he has liked the effort he has seen from his team the past two games and the success the Indians have had early, but Elko has faded in the second half in each of their three-consecutive losses to Sparks, Fernley and Truckee.
“I told the kids that they played hard but the other teams have played harder. We have had leads in all the games but we have to find a way to finish better,” Sellers said.
The Indians (2-3) are hoping for an upset victory to close a losing streak, taking on the Greenwave (4-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in Fallon.