Tag Archives: football

Football ready to recapture prestige

In his third season as head coach of the Falcons football team, Joseph Prince is looking to conquer the demons of seasons past. The last times the Falcons reigned victorious versus county rivals Liberty and Kettle Run were in 2002 and 2012, respectively. With that being said, no current players on the team have experienced beating the Eagles or Cougars.
In last year’s final game, the Falcons’ season ended in heartbreak in the Bird Bowl versus Liberty. In what appeared to be a secure victory, the Falcons held the lead by six points until late in the fourth quarter, when the Falcons fumbled the ball on the 10-yard line, allowing the Eagles to score with three seconds left. After converting the extra point, Liberty won the Bird Bowl 28-27.
That game and the 2016 season, in which the Falcons finished 4-6 and fifth in the Evergreen District, has stuck with the players and coaches throughout the offseason and into this year. A single word now is the team’s motto: Finish. Senior Cole Anderson, a team captain, has used that word as motivation.
“Our team goal is to definitely beat Kettle Run and Liberty—that’s always our team goal,” Anderson said. “We haven’t been able to win in the past couple of years, so that’s a big goal this season, along with having a winning record.”
The Falcons enter the 2017 season 1-2 after a 42-0 blowout loss versus the Dominion Titans on Sept. 8. The Titans defense held sophomore quarterback Jackson Eicher to 53 pass yards and junior running back Kevin Chavis to 32 rush yards.
The team-elected captains this season are seniors Franco Camarca, Joey Heisler and Anderson. Prince praised the trio’s value as leaders to the young team.
“I think they work hard, and the kids look up to them because of that,” Prince said. “Those three by far were who [the team] voted for.”
In past seasons, the Falcons have been a run-dominant offense without much game plan in moving the ball through the air; however, the coaching staff will be looking to to implement more of a passing game in the the Falcons’ offense this season, allowing for an for an increased dynamic overall.
“[We’re] trying to be able to throw the ball and move the ball through the air some more to ease up on the running game,” Prince said.
To complement that passing game is Eicher, who earned the starting quarterback spot by performing well in the preseason. Eicher completed 17 passes for 29 attempts for 240 yards in the Falcons’ 21-0 victory over Brentsville Sept. 1.
“He had a couple good scrimmages, he throws a nice ball, and he [has] a pretty good football IQ,” Prince said. “We just [have] to get him more experience under the gun, but he [has] a lot of potential to be a very solid quarterback if he develops, and that’s what we expect of him.”
The Falcons will compete in the new 13-team Northwestern District, which was established this season. It consists of 4A members FHS, Kettle Run, Liberty, James Wood, John Handley, Millbrook and Sherando. Prince said he was concerned about the challenging matchups throughout the schedule, especially the three-game road stretch in September against Dominion, Millbrook and John Handley.
“It’s tough,” Prince said. “Millbrook is talented, Sherando is very good, and John Handley’s improving.”
Additional concerns for Prince this season include the depth of the team and its lack of experience due to an underclassman majority.
“We’re young at some positions, and we’re making some mistakes that young players do,” Prince said. “Hopefully we can get them corrected; they are all correctable mistakes, but we just [have] to do a better job of coaching them up so they don’t make those kind of mistakes in a game. The game is a blur when you’re young sometimes, and we [have] to make them comfortable enough that the game slows down.”
To offset concerns over the inexperience of his younger players, Prince’s seniors will play a large role on the team this season. Along with Camarca, Anderson and Heisler, the senior core this season for the Falcons is represented by Greyson Thomas, Dakari Mullins, Amir Siders and Stephen Potucek. Juniors Chavis and Tommy Schrank add to the upperclassmen group. Chavis ran for 221 yards versus Brentsville.
“I think every year you have to look to your seniors,” Prince said. “I think your seniors have to be your best players or leaders, and I think if you look to one person, your team’s dead.”
One of the top goals for Prince this season is simple: Begin in the classroom. Along with beating the county rivals, having a winning season and making the playoffs, Prince said he wants his team to have a 3.1 average GPA. Last season, the final average GPA of the team was a 2.95.
Team chemistry is another priority that Anderson said he hasn’t seen a lot of in previous seasons.
“We’re having a lot more fun—we’re more of a family this year,” Anderson said. “We hang out a lot more outside of football, and once you have more fun you can play loose and win.”
Prince also emphasized the value of team unity.
“Football’s unlike most sports. In a lot of other sports, one athlete can make you very good; with football, it takes 11,” he said.
Prince said he is looking forward to growing as a team and placing focus on what is controllable.
“Football is always a journey. I’m looking forward to that journey and seeing how it goes,” Prince said. “Hopefully, it goes the way I want it to go. Hopefully, we get better every week. Hopefully, we learn some lessons of how to win, [and] hopefully, the kids will buy into everything. If we just control what we can control, we’ll be fine.”

~alex wright, sports director

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Football Frenzy: Falcons shine under the Friday night lights

featured image by emma dixon

After beating John Handley, 46-21, on Sep. 9, the Falcon football team stands at 2-1 and moves closer to achieving their goal of making the playoffs.

Junior Dakari Mullins contributed to the Falcons offensive effort against the Judges.

“We need to stay positive and have a good attitude about every day,” Mullins said. “We need to play together as a team, listen to coaches, and do our best on and off the field.”

After finishing with a record of 5-5 last year, the Falcons look to improve early in the season. However, in his second year as head coach, Joe Prince knows there’s room to grow as a team. Prince is working to recruit players and coaches because the number of participants is low.

“We’re not as tough as I want, but we’re working on that and we [have] a good group of guys,” Prince said. “Last year, one of the things I learned was that our numbers were down, so we went out and tried to get more kids to play. It’s hard to get coaches in the building. It’s a process of trying to get everything to work together. We have to improve our facilities, improve our coaching abilities, and improve our kids by getting more out, bigger, faster, and stronger.”

On Sep. 2 the Falcons fell to Heritage after allowing the Pride to come back from a score of 12-0 at halftime to win 21-12, giving the Falcons their first loss of the season. The first game of the year concluded in a 42-12 victory over Loudoun County.

The Falcons will be running a balanced offense, with senior Ryan Crabtree at quarterback taking the snaps. The Falcons will be shifting quickly to outnumber the opponent, with a strong backfield and receiving corps to make up the play style. Along with the offense, the Falcons will play a 3-4 attacking defensive set while trying not to give up any cheap plays.
According to Prince, goals for this year are simple: make the postseason and have a winning record. Junior Cole Anderson describes the team as a family and credits the Falcons on working together to be successful.

“One of the big goals is to beat Liberty and Kettle Run,” Anderson said. “We can do that by working hard in practice and playing well as a team.”

The team’s motto, “68 and breezy,” reflects the goal of remaining calm and moving on to the next play. As the season progresses, the Falcons look forward to the obstacles they will face down.

“Football’s a journey and a lot of things happen week to week,” Prince said. “I want us at the end of the year to say we played hard every game, we overcame the obstacles we could, we won the ones we should’ve, and we won some we were not supposed to. I’d like for us to go as far as we can, and I’d like to see the kids enjoy themselves along the way.”

~ by alex wright, sports director

Football takes unexpected turn

The football team’s season took an unexpected turn on Oct. 10 when Principal Tripp Burton distributed letters to the team and their parents explaining that head coach Jamie Carter would not continue coaching.

Athletic director Mark Holmes is standing in as the head coach and math teacher Mark Scott and physical education and strength coach Ryan Bailey are the new assistant coaches. Scott’s approach to coaching is slightly different than Carter’s, but he is confident that the team can move forward.

“The big thing is for them to believe in what we’re trying to teach and accomplish with them because there are some minor differences in what we’re doing and what coach Carter was doing,” Scott said. “I want them to understand that even if we don’t win, we want to get better and hopefully [in the future] we have an even better chance at winning.”
Although Carter’s sudden absence has shaken up the team, senior Spicer Sabruno believes he and his teammates can make this situation positive.

“We’ve had to deal with a lot of adversity, but I honestly think the team’s gotten closer in his absence,” Sabruno said. “A lot of things have changed; we have a lot of new assistant coaches, our program is moving in a different direction now, and we’re just trying to get the good things out of this situation.”

Senior Zach Evans concurs.

“He was a big part of our team and we lost him, but now we’ve also gained other coaches who can really help out, so it could be for the better,” Evans said. “At first we thought it would slow us down, but it’s kind of picked us up and leadership has really emerged.”

Scott stepped down as head coach three years ago because of the time commitment, but felt compelled to fill in for Carter because he believes he has a duty to the school community.

“I did feel a little bit of an obligation to step up and help the kids. I wanted to make sure they were getting the best out of their experience,” Scott said. “It’s fun for me because I have a lot of things I can correct and teach. I enjoy the game planning, working all week and then getting that one opportunity to execute it.”

The student-run fan section, the Zoo, has also been doing its part. Senior Louis Heisler remembers the homecoming game and the students’ cheers that helped push him through a rough last few minutes to lead the team to victory.

“I love the Zoo. Half the fun of the game is listening to them cheer,” Heisler said. “Whenever I’m breaking down or anything, it’s in the back of my head and I’m listening for the little screams.”

The team is a little over halfway through the season with a record of 3-4. Despite the distractions, coaches and players are keeping their sights on playoff season and for Scott, a strong team mentality.

“As a staff we’re going to work towards holding them accountable for what their assignments are,” Scott said. “I’ve already talked to them that, this season, moving forward is not about whether we win or lose. It’s about getting better every day and learning the life lessons about working, persevering, and coming together as a team.”

PRO/CON: Should college athletes be paid?

College athletes deserve portion of profits they bring in

Most professional athletes make more money than the President; however, college athletes do not receive any (legal) forms of cold hard cash. The life of college athletes is completely unfair. They are scrutinized by the media and make news headlines. However, they will not receive any form of compensation for their play unless they make it into a professional sport.

For most college athletes, the sport consumes their time. In 2008, USA TODAY surveyed college athletes and found that two-thirds considered themselves athletes, not students. Division I football players claimed that they spend over 40 hours a week practicing or playing their sport, and less than 40 hours on academics. With such time commitments, sports and school, it is unreasonable to expect an athlete to have a job.

Playing a college sport doesn’t make money for the athletes, but it does make the colleges money. Every week these athletes show their stuff on national TV and the NCAA rakes in the dough. The NCAA reported that their projected revenue for 2012-2013 was $792 million. In 2008, Virginia Tech made $64 million off of college football alone. So since the NCAA makes that much money, why can’t they pay the people generating said revenue?

Many college athletes put their health at risk on a daily basis. Common injuries include concussions, torn muscles, and broken bones. Concussions leading to brain damage, not to mention painful migraines, are a major issue in many sports. The typical athlete in a contact sport has a 19 percent chance of getting a concussion each season according, to the University of Pittsburgh. The NFL reached a $765 million settlement this year with retired football players who sustained head injuries during their careers.

Concussions don’t just begin in the pros, and the side effects can linger well after an athlete’s college/pro career ends. It costs serious money to pay for the medical treatment of head-related injuries, money that many athletes will not make if they don’t make it to the professional level.

Many college athletes are glamorized by major media sources. They have become icons not only to high school and other amateur athletes, but also to the fans that watch them play. Their images are marketed and sold in the form of merchandise, like professional athletes. Major controversies have arisen over college athletes illegally profiting off merchandise. In 2011, five Ohio State players, were suspended for five games after they had sold some of their college merchandise to pay for such things as tattoos. None of this would have been a problem if these young and high-profile athletes were making a salary for their playing time.

As the main part of a multi-million dollar enterprise, college athletes need to get paid. Simply put, college athletes are exposed to too many risks to not share in the profits other organizations make from them. It is not fair, and it needs to change.

~Josh Henry, copy production editor

Paying players would end college sports, except most lucrative programs

The NCAA develops the rules, establishes postseason formats, and regulate just about every aspect of college sports. One of the most controversial regulations prevents college athletes from being paid. Many argue that the NCAA is swindling the athletes, using them to make millions of dollars while the athletes don’t get a penny of the profits. Last year alone, the NCAA made $871.6 million in revenue.

However, the people forget that the athletes are getting a free college education, something that only 0.3 percent of students at four-year institutions get, and they receive other advantages, such as expert coaching that could lead to a career in their respective sports. The athletes also get free access to some of the most high-tech training facilities in the world, including weight rooms and swimming pools that others have to pay expensive memberships fees to access.

Another common misconception is that the universities and colleges make bank off of college sports, specifically football. That is only true for a handful of schools, such as Notre Dame and University of Texas. Most schools can only pay what it takes to run the programs, and in some cases the schools lose money. In fact, a report by Dan Fulks of Transylvania University found that 106 of the 120 FBS (Division 1-A) either made no money or lost money in 2009.

Additionally, the 97 schools that do not have a football program in Division 1-A reported an estimated average loss of $3 million. Paying the athletes would put the schools even farther into the red, possibly even forcing schools to cut some sports. It is unfair to expect colleges to give these athletes a free education and then pay them money to play for them. The NCAA could not afford to pay the nearly 450,000 student athletes; they had to pay $800 million in expenses.

The entire culture of college football would be changed if the athletes were paid. College football is completely different from NFL football, and that’s a good thing. There is something special about the atmosphere of a college football game. The athletes still take pride in playing for their school. You don’t see the star player of the team that wins the national championship transfer schools after the season, but players leave a Super Bowl winning NFL team all the time, usually for a bigger paycheck. If you pay the players, then why even have the colleges sponsor the sports? Why not start a semipro league instead? If college athletes were to be paid, it would take away that sense of school pride. The college game would become nothing but a business, just like the NFL.

~Brady Burr, staff reporter

 

Leif Heltzel rooted in three sports

As a returning three sport varsity athlete, senior Leif Heltzel starts on both of the varsity football and basketball teams, and then runs track in the spring. He has played football since freshman year and is a captain on this season’s squad.

“He leads by example,” head coach Jamie Carter said. “He has always been a leader, and the team looks up to him, especially after losses like [against Loudon County].”

Senior co-captain Marcus Smith says that Heltzel’s not only a leader, but also a producer.

“He is the one who gives the speeches and gets the team motivated,” Smith said. “He will definitely lead the team in receptions and yards too.”

Junior QB Louis Heisler will have Heltzel as his main target this year.

“Leif is awesome; he’s one of my favorites,” Heisler said. “He’s a playmaker. I know that when I get the ball to him, he’s going to do something with it.”

Heltzel has been an impact player on the football field since his sophomore year. Last year Heltzel was named to the second team all district, and he hopes to play football in college.

“I am being scouted more as a receiver,” Heltzel said. “Honestly, I will do anything they need me to do [on the football field] that will help me get into college for free.”

Carter says that Heltzel has the potential to go far and play Division 1 in college.

“He has all the right tools that coaches look for,” Carter said. “He has a huge upside, which is what college coaches say when they see a player with potential.”

Heltzel hopes to major in creative writing.

“You can do what you want [in creative writing],” Heltzel said. “Anything like a math field is structured. You have formulas and rules. [In creative writing] you can write about anything you want.”

Independence and originality is a theme in Heltzel’s favorite TV show, The Boondocks, which is about the life of two underprivileged urban
African American youths.
“They take real stuff, like real life situations and satirically murder them,” Heltzel said. “It is just sarcastically funny.”

In the winter, Heltzel is a starting forward on the basketball team.

“He does really well,” senior Jay-Jay Roberts said. “Going straight from football to basketball can be difficult but he does it well.”

Heltzel believes that this basketball season will be more successful than last year.

“I think that the other seniors who didn’t start last season are going to have the opportunity to play and make the team better,” Heltzel said. “There will also be a better team chemistry.”

According to Roberts, Heltzel will have a positive impact on the team’s morale.

“He contributes more size to the team,” Roberts said. “He executes well and will definitely be a leader on the team. If there is a guy on the team who isn’t playing well or having a good day, he keeps us up.”

~Caroline Liebel, advertising director

Falcons slow to take flight

After a sound thrashing by being thrashed by Handley, 45-21, on Sept. 13, the Falcons’ record stands at 1-2. The loss was surprising, after the Falcons’ dominant performance against Skyline, 30-12, on Sept. 6, in which the Falcons controlled the game from the start. Against Handley momentum swung to the Judges early, and the Falcons could not get it back.

Handley scored on their first possession, and then scored an interception return for a touchdown on defense to get an early 14-0 lead. The Falcons stormed back after senior Leif Heltzel had a 51 yard interception, but were down 17-14 at the end of the first half. Handley took the wind out of the Falcons with several interceptions and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

“I give our kids credit for fighting back in the first half,” head coach Jamie Carter said. “After [the first half, Handley] didn’t let [momentum] swing our way. Whenever we made it close, they opened [the game] right back up. They made plays when they had to.”

In week two against Skyline, the Falcons executed well, working the running game and tallying up 235 yards rushing. The offensive line made strides after the season opener against Loudoun County, and senior Todd Jordan led the team with 83 yards on nine carries. Junior quarterback Louis Heisler was well-protected, and he passed for 101 yards and one touchdown, the first of his varsity career. The Falcons dominated both sides of the ball, and the game was out of reach from start to finish.

“Oh my god,” junior Zach “Meatball” Evans said. “That’s all I can say. I think we played the best game we have ever had as a group.”

The offensive line was a concern after the week one loss to Loudoun County.

“Credit the offensive linemen and their work ethic,” Carter said. “After week one, we still knew they were a talented unit. They didn’t play to their potential. But that week in practice they dedicated themselves, and it showed on the field.”

Heisler took the position of QB over the summer after winning a training camp competition with junior Marcus Campbell.

“It is challenging,” Heisler said. “There is a lot of pressure on me, but the offensive line has put the work in during practice and it shows during the game. My recievers have been working really hard to get their routes down to help me out.”

Heisler, along with Heltzel, senior Brady Burr, and juniors Marcus Campbell and Spicer Sabruno, all play on both offense and defense. Being a two-way player is a test of a player’s conditioning.

“I like it because I know that I can affect every play,” Heisler said. “It is really tiring, though, and we get a few plays off occasionally.”

Several players also play the “flex” position on offense. Sabruno and sophomore Keion Lewis have seen snaps at receiver and running back.

“We have too much talent not to give [several] people touches, especially at the start of the season,” Carter said. “But as we get closer to the end of the season, we will play with the hotter hand.”

Sixteen of the starters from last season have returned for this year, seven of whom are seniors. The players have been brothers for much longer than just two seasons.

“There is a level of chemistry on this team that you don’t see every day,” senior Henry Weber said. “We have all been playing together for so long, whether it was on a field or a backyard; we are all great friends.”

Although the team has senior talent, there was no clear choice for team captains at the beginning of the season.

“There will be captains for the cointoss every game,” Carter said. “But there is no one guy leading this team. Every senior has to help lead this team – the underclassmen, too.”

On Sept. 20 the Falcons will go to Millbrook to play the Pioneers. The Falcons hope to bounce back against a team that lost 46-13 to Kettle Run last week.

~Josh Henry, copy/production editor

Playoff predictions pick Patriots

Heading into week 14 the playoff picture is beginning to take form. The Texans, Falcons, and Ravens are pulling ahead of the pack, while the Chiefs, Jets, and Panthers are competing to be the worst teams in the league.

In the wacky world of football the key for success is consistency, which has been lacking this season. Major blowouts in headline games such as the 49ers manhandling of the Bears or the Giants beating of the Packers, caused critics to question the power of the best teams in the NFL. At one point, the Belichick/Brady-led Patriots had a losing record, which is unheard of since the early 2000s. But all is falling back together now, right?

Wrong. The end of this season should prove to be explosive with emerging talent and playoff spoilers. The NFC, specifically, is so boggled up that six or more teams may fight for the last two playoff spots. Easy playoffs picks, such as the Falcons and Bears are obvious contenders, but what about Seattle and New Orleans? Those teams will be a thorn in the side of top contenders looking for home field advantage.

The Green Bay Packers are likely to have as hot a run into the playoffs as they did in their 2010 Super Bowl season. Aaron Rodgers returned to MVP form when he threw for six touchdowns and 342 yards against the Texans. Their huge test will come week 15 in Chicago. The Colts could end up being a surprising wild card team. Andrew Luck put up record setting rookie numbers while bringing the Colts from a two win team to a playoff contender. If the Colts make the playoffs as a wildcard, they may be destined for a matchup against Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the first round. If Luck, who replaced Manning, gets a shot at taking down the master, the television ratings would be huge.

In the end, the best team wins the big game. The New England Patriots will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Why, you ask? Because these teams are the best. The Patriots have the best offense in the league, averaging over 400 yards and 33 points per game. The 49ers have the best defense, ranking first in the NFL and giving up only 14 points per game. They are also top five against the pass and run. This is a matchup of superstars. Linebacker Patrick Willis against quarterback Tom Brady, it would be the most balanced clash of teams since the Colts and Bears matchup in 2007. Sophmore QB Colin Kaepernick will have his time to shine against the Patriots, but the pure firepower of the Patriots offense combined with a probable slip up from the 49ers young QB will turn into a 28-20 Patriots victory.

~Josh Henry, design editor