Falcons involuntarily switch QBs

It was hard to tell who was having the most fun during Thursday night's Falcon football team dinner in South Whidbey High's commons room: Coach Mark Hodson, the parents on the serving line, the families chowing down on Coach Don Elliot's famous teriyaki chicken, children recovering footballs from under tables or the athletes themselves.

A five-year tradition started by Coach Hodson to foster "more of a small-town community atmosphere," the team dinner brings everyone together for a combination old-fashioned pep rally and food fest.

"Parents can come and meet everyone on a personal level," Hodson said.

The team could certainly use a little cheering up. Prior to last night's contest at King's High School, the Falcons have been outscored 266 to 24 and have yet to win a game -- they are solidly ensconced in the Cascade Conference cellar at 0-3, 0-6 overall.

And they're having a few injury problems.

Quarterback Danny Parra is out for the season, tackle Stephan Snyder has a severe ankle sprain and center James Jones a blown right knee.

"It really is time for certain freshmen and sophomores to step it up," the coach said.

Parra tells the tale: "I got my leg landed on at the Hoquiam game (Sept. 23) but it wasn't too bad."

"Then Friday night (against Lakewood) I was playing defense when Matt (Long) dove on a tackle and the other guy landed on me," Parra said. "I turned my foot and it sort of flopped over."

What happened next: An unstable fracture of the fibula between his knee and ankle.

"They put some steel pins and a plate in, but I'll be ready to catch when baseball starts in the spring," Parra said.

Displaying undaunted courage, backup sophomore Kyle Hoch is ready to go.

"I called Saturday night to see how Danny was doing and that's when I knew for sure I'd be starting," Hoch said.

"I know the plays since I'm a tight end and have the team's support," he said. "We all trust each other to know what to do; it's been good in practice. Coach Elliot told me, 'You're steering the wheel now, Kyle.'"

Hoch's mother Debbie served up a brownie while noting that her son "Feels a little nervous, but he's ready."

Hodson said Hoch has attended the Washington State University football camp and Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck's quarterback school, so he knows the basics.

"We knew this would be a tough year for us. We're building a solid base for the future and focus each day and each game with that goal in mind," Hodson said.

Volunteer Coach Bruce Knight agreed.

"The great thing about our program is the kids have maintained a positive attitude throughout, as you see," Knight said, waving his hand around the commons room. Despite any disappointment or frustration, the team realizes it has been a developmental year.

"Mark keeps the kids looking forward and that's going to pay off big time next year," Knight added.

The coach and his staff hope the entire town shows up Friday as the Granite Falls Tigers arrive for the Homecoming game, 7 p.m. at Waterman Field.

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