Falcon football is about speed

Working the defensive rush in practice this week, the Falcon line is expected to do some damage to opponents this season. - Matt Johnson
Working the defensive rush in practice this week, the Falcon line is expected to do some damage to opponents this season.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Sixty-five boys turned out for the South Whidbey High School football team this week -- 65 fast boys.

Speed is the name of the game for the Falcons this fall, speed to run the ball, catch the ball and to run down anyone on the other team who has the ball.

Back on the field after last year's 1-8 season, the Falcons are intent on using that speed and all their other talents to turn the tide for a program that has not had much success in recent years. Falcon head coach Mark Hodson, who is starting his second year with the Falcons, said he has good reason to believe this season will be a better one. In a spring jamboree in June, the Falcons were able to play strong offense and defense against several 3A and 4A schools.

"We did a good job of shutting down Mount Si and Shorewood," Hodson said.

But to square off against North Cascade Conference teams like perennial champion Lynden Christian or Blaine, Mount Baker and Meridian, the Falcons will need more than what they had in the spring. Traditionally a running team, South Whidbey is going to put more effort into its air game this season, Hodson said, splitting its offense 50-50 between rushing and passing.

This is where all that speed comes in. Fleet-of-feet wide receivers Nick Plastino and Tim Gathings will be the primary targets for Falcon quarterbacks Jeremy Iverson and Travis Tornga -- who are still battling for the starting job Iverson had in 2001.

Doing the ground work will be the team's top scoring threat, senior Andy Wills, and tailback Mike Lodell.

On defense, the Falcons are not as weighty as some teams but, according to Hodson, have good size. He points to newcomer Kai Zaima as a solid big man, and singled out sophomore defensive end Jason Gilberts as a future standout.

With these players on the field, Hodson said he believes the Falcons can crack the .500 mark this year. Who they will beat and who they won't he can't say right now: That is up to his team.

"I really feel our team can compete with every team in the NCC this year," he said.

Lost to graduation last year were Chris Hahn, Colin Murphy, Culley Lehman, Justen Pierce, Eric Johnson and Chuck Applebee.

The Falcons open their home season with a home jamboree on Sept. 7. Play starts at 1 p.m. at Waterman Field.

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