Vaqueros open league play with rivalry game

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Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

With only 10 games on the schedule, every game means a lot.

But for the Fernley Vaqueros, Friday’s game at Fallon might just mean a little more than the others.

Fernley plays at Fallon Friday night in the Northern 3A League opener for both teams.

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The Vaqueros are coming off a 35-26 loss in San Francisco to Sacred Heart Cathedral. Fallon opened its season with a 19-14 win over Hug.

Aside from being the first league game of the season, coach Chris Ward said Fallon is the team the Vaqueros consider their biggest rival.

“They’re so close,” Ward said. “The kids know each other, and they see each other all the time, so it’s kind of important to them.”

Fallon may be a familiar foe for the Vaqueros, but the Greenwave will have a much different appearance than Fernley has seen the past few years.

Gone is the Pistol offense, and in its place is a true shotgun spread offense with offset running back. The Greenwave will line up in a variety of 3-by-1 and 2-by-2 multiple receiver sets, and run the zone read.

“They’re very good at what they do,” Ward said. “The quarterback is very athletic, they have good receivers, not just catching the ball, but doing something after the catch. I think up front it will be a good challenge.”

Sophomore quarterback Elijah Jackson completed 8 of 18 passes against Hug, but those went for 137 yards, with one touchdown. He also ran 9 times for 91 yards, and the Greenwave gained 185 yards on 19 carries against Hug.

Fernley doesn’t have stats compiled from the loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral, but the Vaqueros were unable to establish their option offense, although they did make several big plays in the passing game.

Fallon coach Brooke Hill was impressed with a lot of what he saw out of the Vaqueros.

“They’re very athletic. They had the lead in that ballgame and just didn’t hold it,” Hill said of Fernley. “They have some talent and a returning quarterback. They’ve got some size up front. They present a very stiff challenge and, of course, it’s a rivalry game.”

Hill acknowledged the rivalry, but said it’s more important as the first league game than as a rivalry game.

“We don’t try to play it up as a rivalry game, but the kids know it is,” Hill said. “We’ve got to let them know this is the first league game. We don’t want to go overboard with it. The quicker they put that aside and play football, the better.”

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