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Cinderella Falcons ready to dance past midnight

By: Mike Ray
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The anticipation that is leading up to next Saturday’s CIF Division 5-A State championship football game is starting to build at Colfax High School.

And, for the Cinderella Falcons, a school of less than 600 that wasn’t expected to even win their own league this season, Colfax is hoping that the glass slipper fits.

“It’s been a long season and the kids are excited but we’re trying to keep things on an even keel,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello about his squad. “We’re very excited to be playing for a state championship, but we realize that we have a huge, huge challenge ahead of us.”

For starters, the opponent in next Saturday’s 5-A championship tilt, San Diego High School, is an opponent with an enrollment of 2,453. The school, one the oldest in California that was established in 1882, is slated to come to Colfax for the Dec. 15 championship game.

However, in the CIF state’s “competitive equity” playoff system, this is the second straight year – at least in the 5-A bracket – enrollments go out the window. A year ago, Fortuna with 844 students defeated Katella of Anaheim (2,600 students), 54-33.

Still, make no mistake, the Cavers (11-2) are coming to Colfax with lofty credentials.

“They’ve only lost one game on the field and that was to Lincoln (San Diego) in overtime when Lincoln was ranked No. 10 in the nation,” said Martello. Next Saturday, Lincoln will play the winner of this weekend’s Northern California regional bowl game between Eureka and Menlo-Atherton for the state 3-AA championship.  

San Diego’s other loss came via forfeit for using an ineligible player in a game they won, 42-19, over Spring Valley of Las Vegas.

“It was a mix-up on paperwork,” said San Diego coach Charles James. “The player was enrolled in our school, but because the game in Vegas was before school started, he was technically ineligible.”

James noted that because of a soccer tournament scheduled at San Diego High this week, his team wasn’t going to be able to practice until Thursday.

“Right now, it’s raining and cold down here,” said James. “We’re getting a dose of your weather.”

After watching film on the Cavers, Martello was quick to make an easy assessment.

“They’re basically a Sierra Foothill League-level type team,” said Martello. “They are fundamentally sound, athletic. Two very good running backs. This may be one of the toughest opponents that we’ve played in school history.”

The CIF State office was set to inspect Colfax’s facilities this week to check on how the Falcons’ grass field was holding up under the recent rains.

“It’s a bit soggy right now, but we have good drainage and we’ll see how it goes,” said Colfax athletic director Justin Heimann. “The state just doesn’t want a championship game played in a mud bowl.”

Heimann noted that both Nevada Union and Del Oro have been listed as alternative sites if the Falcons have their home digs nixed.

“We’ll do whatever the state wants,” said Heimann.