With only nine starters from last season’s team coming back in 2018, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to think that the Colfax Falcons entered the current football season looking for their identity, both offensively and defensively.
However, despite having to fill the majority of their starting spots this season with new faces, for the Falcons as they enter the midpoint of their schedule this week ﹘ so far so good.
“We lost some very good players from last season’s team, but we felt that we had a good core of guys coming back too,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello, whose Falcons are off to a 4-0 start. “We’ve also had some new players step up that are doing a good job.”
The main key roster losses for the Falcons, who were 9-4 a year ago and reached the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game, were over 6,000 yards of offense and over 60 touchdowns generated by quarterback Ryland Heimann, versatile running back Mason Ahrens and tight end Garren O’Keefe.
“A lot of people didn’t realize at the time that last year because of some injuries, we had five or six JV call-ups playing major minutes in the section game,” said Martello. “The experience that those young players gained in the playoffs last season has been very valuable for us this year.”
A year ago, Colfax quarterback Alex Weir was starting in the Falcons’ secondary. Playing mainly in mop-up time behind Heimann last season, Weir threw only one pass in 2017.
This season, however, in just four games, Weir has completed 71 percent of his passes (49-for-69) for 886 yards and 13 touchdowns against just one interception. In last week’s 44-14 win over Union Mine, Weir connected with seven different receivers.
“Alex is doing a good job,” said Martello. “I thought he threw the ball well. He’s improving every week.”
This week on a light local slate, Martello hopes his Falcons will take another positive step towards the start of Pioneer Valley League play when Colfax travels to Wheatland for a 7:15 p.m. game.
In other action, Del Oro, coming off a big 42-7 destruction of Granite Bay, will try and keep its perfect record intact when the Golden Eagles host winless Whitney with kickoff set for 7 p.m. Friday.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s action:
Colfax (4-0) at Wheatland (2-2), 7:15 p.m.
If the Falcons needed any incentive to prepare for Friday’s test with the Pirates, they need not look any further than that the fact that this week’s opponent is 2-0 against Pioneer Valley League opposition.
“They have a new coach and have improved quite a bit,” said Martello about the Pirates, who entered the season with a 12-game losing streak but quickly turned things around with wins over PVL members Marysville, 24-15, and Lindhurst, 15-14. “They have some size up front that we’ll have to deal with.”
Wheatland is a run-heavy team led by 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior Tariq Parker, who has rushed over the century mark in three games this season and has totaled 457 yards and five touchdowns.
Whitney (0-4) at Del Oro (5-0), 7 p.m.
Del Oro coach Jeff Walters’ job this week is to make sure his team’s heads aren’t still in the clouds after savoring last Friday’s 42-7 rout of Granite Bay.
“One thing that we told the kids this week is that you never take anyone in the SFL lightly,” said Walters. “I respect their coaching staff and the job they’re doing over there (at Whitney). They have them headed in the right direction.”
Whitney has played a brutal schedule with losses to undefeated Placer, 42-28, undefeated Central of Fresno ﹘ one of the top Central section Division I teams, 49-10, and to rated teams Lincoln, 30-0, and Rocklin, 31-21, last week.
Quarterback Robert Jones is a pass-run threat for the Wildcats while Nick Miller is the top running back. Jones’ primary targets have been Ian Simpson and Jaidon Love-Williams.
The contest will be Del Oro’s final game before next week’s bye and a visit by Oak Ridge on Oct. 5.