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MVP French leads Falcon flock of all-Cascade Conference athletes
Imagine, Falcon football faithful, the past three seasons without Nick French playing quarterback.
If he had his way back in the days when he was a Langley Middle School student, the calls would have had French on the receiving end of someone else’s passes.
Falcon coaches Mark Hodson and Andy Davis should make sure they thank their assistant coach Jeff Hanson, South Whidbey High School’s quarterback coach, for making French take snaps as a Cougar six years ago.
“I didn’t want to play quarterback,” French laughed. “I wanted to play receiver.”
That change proved fruitful this year, even if French only completed half of his goals for the 2013 Falcon football season.
The senior quarterback missed out on a Cascade Conference title, though his consolation prize is plenty decent; French was voted the league’s most valuable player on offense. And he wasn’t alone. Senior Nick Bennett was named a first-team receiver and second-team linebacker; senior Jordan Parrick a second-team tight end; senior Beck Davis a second-team offensive lineman and honorable mention linebacker; junior Pierce Jackson a second-team defensive lineman; senior Nate Hanson an honorable mention offensive lineman; senior Cooper Nichols an honorable mention running back; and senior Kale Reichersamer an honorable mention receiver.
As was typical during his three-year career playing quarterback for the Falcons, he was quick to attribute his success to his teammates on the offensive line and the receiving corps.
“They protected me all year,” French said. “I could throw the ball up and have confidence they would go and get it.”
“Sometimes I know before I snapped the ball that Kale’s going to beat this guy and Nick’s going to beat this guy,” he added.
Deep heaves became a mainstay of the Falcon passing game. French threw 17 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. He compiled 1,187 yards through the air, including a long toss of 59 yards.
His game was aided by the cadre of other high-flying Falcons who made the all-Cascade Conference list. Bennett, a senior co-captain, was named one of two first-team receivers. Kale Reichersamer, who came back from a broken collarbone last season, made the honorable mention list — a point of dispute among his teammates and coaches. For good reason, too.
Reichersamer finished with a team-high 35 catches, including eight touchdowns, totaling 543 yards. French called the perceived snub of not finishing as an all-league first-team receiver “ridiculous.”
“He and Nick (Bennett) are the best receivers in the conference,” French said.
French, often the team’s vocal leader as well as its on-the-field leader both on offense and defense, said the most memorable play was one he wasn’t even involved in. After scoring a late rushing touchdown against Archbishop Murphy, French watched from the sideline as the Falcon coaches called for a fake extra-point kick. He watched his backup, junior Parker Collins, take the snap and briefly hold it for senior Cooper Nichols, then pick it up, roll to his right and loft a wobbling pass into the end zone — right into Bennett’s hands for a two-point conversion and the go-ahead score.
Other than that Disney feel-good, movie-like play, French said his great moment came in the Whidbey Island rivalry. South Whidbey shellacked a depleted Coupeville squad 57-33, the most points the Falcons scored in a single game all season. French scored three rushing scores and threw two touchdown passes in that victory, atoning for missing out as the quarterback in 2012 when Coupeville won.
“I begged all game to play offense, but nobody would let me,” French recalled of the 2012 loss.
The victory also secured the rivalry trophy, The Bucket, and punched South Whidbey’s ticket to the District 1 playoffs.
Despite missing a couple of games this year with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, French also flashed his ability to be fleet-footed. He amassed 522 rushing yards on 108 carries, both team highs, scoring six times on the ground.
South Whidbey’s seven seniors who made the all-league list were guys who dedicated significant time in the offseason and summer to conditioning, weight lifting and drills, French said.
“All those guys who got the conference awards were in the weight room all summer,” he said