Div. IV Playoffs

Weathering The Storm

High-scoring Falcons, Hawks May Have To Battle Elements
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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If the weather cooperates, Colfax High school athletic director Rob Hitchcock might want to have the school’s maintenance crew hook up a scoreboard at Marson Stadium this Friday night that can accommodate triple digits. When Colfax’s Falcons and Liberty Ranch’s Hawks hook up here Friday at 7 p.m. in the second round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s Div. IV football playoffs, on paper anyway, fans should expect a high-powered shootout that will feature a bevy of athletes that are among the section and state’s offensive statistical leaders. The Falcons, (11-0), champions of the Pioneer Valley League and the Hawks (8-3) and co-champions of the Sierra Valley Conference look like mirror images of each other. “They have a lot of weapons on offense, perhaps more than we faced when we played Placer,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello comparing the Hawks to the Hillmen who Colfax turned back 41-28, last month to grab the inside track to the eventual PVL crown. Both the Falcons and Hawks have respectively generated over 5,000 yards of offense apiece through 11 weeks of the season. On the ground, while Colfax has Hunter Perez (1,942 yards, 33 TDs) and Austin Perry (502 yards 9 TDs), the Hawks counter with a rugged 1-2 punch of their own in the form of 6-foot two-inch 205-pound John Wiernicki (2,205 yards, 36 TDs) and John Kendall (1,040 yards 10TDs). In last Friday’s 48-35 win over Calaveras, the Wiernicki-Kendall duo accounted for 352 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. One of Kendall’s scores was an 80-yard kick-off return that sealed the game. “They have a lot of team speed with those two backs,” said Martello who noted that Wiernicki has 4.5 speed and is getting looks from San Jose State and Sacramento State. “They do a real good job of getting those guys the ball.” While the Falcons rely on Austin Young’s right arm (2,439 yards 30 TDs), the Hawks are also solid with quarterback Jacob Tibbetts (1,359 yards 13 TDS) who is efficient in keeping defenses from ganging up on the Hawks’ run game. Liberty Ranch coach Anthony Linebaugh noted that the second round of the playoffs is a little different creature for all teams involved. “The second round of the playoffs is a different level,” said Linebaugh. “It’s a talented field this year in Division IV and there’s basically no easy teams left out there.” A change of weather that is predicted for the foothills area on Friday - rain and possible snow - might alter each team’s game plan on a soggy Marson field. “We’ll see how it goes,” said Martello. “Last year we had the weather with the snow at the end against Argonaut and we were able to adjust. We’ll have to deal with whatever comes up.” At stake for the Falcons and Hawks Friday is the winner advancing to the semi-final round next Friday against either Hilmar (9-2) or Livingston (6-5).