Enterprise staff writer
COLFAX Ñ Football is supposed to be fun.
And in this unassuming, idyllic Sierra foothills town, the local high school Falcons have been full of themselves over the years Ñ 12 league crowns in 20 seasons and four section titles since 2001.
But this fall, even a solid 2-1 record hasnÕt kept things from being, well, rocky at Colfax High.
ÒThe kids are working their butts off … and I feel good about that,Ó veteran Falcons coach Tony Martello says of his squad, who will host Davis High on Friday. ÒItÕs been a very trying time for us in a lot of different ways, but weÕre moving forward.Ó
A major topic of discussion has been the arrests of three of MartelloÕs players for throwing debris onto Interstate 80 and seriously injuring a passing motorist. The incident happened during the summer and the kids are awaiting trial Ñ as adults. The trauma has cut deep into the program as two of the three remain in custody in Placer County.
Another area of distraction has been the concussion injury to team heartbeat Tommy Baldoni. Martello says heÕs awaiting word on his running back/linebackerÕs status for FridayÕs game.
Then thereÕs the loss to unbeaten Union Mine two weeks ago.
After dropping a 21-7 decision on Sept. 10, fans Ñ through an active Auburn Journal blog Ñ have accused their beloved Falcons of quitting in that game.
Martello will have none of that kind of talk.
ÒUnion Mine was more physical (than the other two teams they played),Ó Martello says, noting that his team didnÕt capitalize on opportunities and that Colfax has Òa ways to go.Ó But he denies that he, players or coaches Òquit.Ó
ÒRight now weÕre setting our sights on … getting ready for Davis.Ó
Distractions aside, this Division III program can be pretty scary Ñ and Blue Devil coach Steve Smyte knows it:
ÒThey know how to win … they have great tradition. They have a 6-foot-5 quarterback who can sling it. They play fast and they play tough.Ó
That QB is junior Austin Young, who threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-18 Week 1 win over El Camino. In that game, Baldoni rushed for 121 yards and made eight tackles.
It only took once through the films of ColfaxÕs games to tip Smyte to the strategy for Friday: stop Baldoni and Young.
Unhappy with last weekÕs defensive performance in a 43-20 loss to Will C. Wood, Smyte has been preaching consistency and trying to get his Devils to be more defensively effective on third down.
ÒWe did a lot of things better. Penalties and mistakes were down .. but we got killed on third down,Ó Smyte says.
Through three periods at Wood, the Wildcats were 7-for-10 on third-down conversions and hammered the Devils on touchdown drives of 51, 70, 80 and 80 yards. And these were man-sized drives Ñ one was six plays, the other three were nine, 10 and 11 plays.
The Blue Devils need to wrap up and play lights out when they get the Falcons in a hole.
If Baldoni (6-0, 200) canÕt go Friday, the Devils (1-2) are expected to get a heavy dose of Connor Brown (5-8, 200), a fullback who gained 96 yards on 11 carries in the Union Mine loss.
Either way, like Smyte says, Colfax is a team that knows how to win. The task for DHS is to add to the misery that is Falcon football 2010.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Notes: Blue Devil receiver/defender Dillard Brown, who suffered a perforated ear drum near the end of FridayÕs game, has been at practice this week, but will not suit up for at least another two weeks, according to his dad Ron. Brother Dominic, an accomplished offensive lineman, is battling a leg/ankle injury and saw limited duty last week. He is expected to play against Colfax. … Davis will finally get a home game on Oct. 1 when Oakmont comes a-callinÕ. Halden FieldÕs $7 million, two-phase rehabilitation is almost finished.
Ñ Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8056. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com