Sports

Steady, but still searching

Apparently, there are no soft targets to be had by the Falcon football team.

Last Friday, the Falcons came up against the second of three irresistible forces they must meet in the first half of the season in a game at Nooksack Valley High School. That force, in the form of the top-10 ranked Pioneers, was too much for South Whidbey, as they overwhelmed Big Blue 31-9 in the second North Cascades Conference game of the season.

Though the game was a much closer matchup than the Falcons' 59-7 loss to Meridian last week, South Whidbey defense took an early pounding. The Pioneers scored touchdowns on their first two offensive series before the Falcon defense knuckled down to keep the score close through the remainder of the game.

To put a little fear in the Pioneers, the Falcon offense broke loose with some surprises of its own. On its third possession of the game, South Whidbey made a short drive into Pioneer territory to set up senior kicker Adam Jaffe for a field goal attempt. Jaffe easily made the 27-yard boot and registered the first Falcon field goal in two years.

Falcon coach Mark Hodson said the offense found Jaffe's perfect range.

"Adam's a good kicker, so we know if we get to the 20 we've got points on the board," he said Tuesday.

South Whidbey's second drive was even scarier for the Nooksack defense. After Mike Lodell picked off a Pioneer pass, the Falcons drove 70 yards on the strength of two short passes to and long runs by tailback Andy Wills. Quarterback Jeremy Iversen capped the drive with a one-yard sneak for South Whidbey's only touchdown of the game.

The Falcons went on to hold Nooksack to just six points over the next two quarters, before the Pioneers broke loose with 13 in the fourth. Even so, Hodson said, his defensive unit did some of its best work of the year. In addition to Lodell's overall performance, which Hodson called "stellar," senior Tim Gathings grabbed a second South Whidbey interception, and linebacker Justin Shelton made a strong return to duty after sitting out the previous week with an injury.

Though South Whidbey faces a game against Lynden Christian -- a team ranked as one of the five best in the state -- this Friday, Hodson said he has high hopes for his 1-3 team.

"When you play against good teams, you get good fast," he said.

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