HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Fresh-look Falcons ready to soar - The Explorer: Sports

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Fresh-look Falcons ready to soar

First-year coach remolds players into big hitters

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:03 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The top feels lonely, but the middle lacks elbow room.

With a new coach, a new attitude and an outright battle for quarterback, Catalina Foothills promises nothing if not an interesting season, a fresh look — and a fight to climb from the depths of the 4A Sonoran region.

“They want to get better, and you can’t replace that,” head coach Matt Johnson said of his Falcons.

The former head coach for Rincon/University knows that discipline and work ethic rank among the few things a first-year coach can control.

But Johnson, a devotee of the power run game, has enjoyed watching his options open as junior quarterback Adam Larriva (6’3”, 205 pounds) claws for a job once predestined to “physically gifted” senior tosser Breck Ashdown (6’4”, 205 pounds).

“Last year we were scared to go into Cienega and Salpointe. They were just such powerhouses,” Ashdown said. “That’s going to change this year.”

Larriva echoed Ashdown — verbally, and for the moment.

“We’ve got a lot of new things going on this year. It’s exciting,” said the junior. “This team needed to believe we could start winning.”

The Falcons’ game is already changing on defense. Daily hitting drills are back in style. Sore players trot to the water carts.

Senior linebackers Ernie Escarcega (6’1”, 215 pounds) and Vince Adams (6’1”, 195 pounds) credit Johnson’s Monday mini-camps for shattering cliques, as players fight to keep spots.

“We stopped feeling any expectations last year. Everyone thought we went soft,” Escarcega said. “We’re going to be hitting a lot harder now.”

After last year’s mid-conference 5-5 finish, the Falcons weren’t the only ones ready to shake things up. Johnson marveled at the support he received from Foothills families, as he molded the team into a tight clan.

“They just came up to me and said, ‘What do you need us to do?’” Johnson said. “The community has been very welcoming.”

Catalina Foothills High School

Mascot: Falcons

Colors: Royal blue and silver

Coach profile

Matt Johnson, first year

Previous: Coached four years at Rincon High School; six years’ assistant coaching at Amphitheather High School

2007 record (5-5, 2-2)

Aug. 24 at Cienega L 33-14

Aug. 31 Rio Rico W 41-20

Sept. 7 Douglas W 24-7

Sept. 14 at Flowing Wells W 14-7

Sept. 20 Sabino L 62-7

Oct. 5 at CDO L 48-0

Oct. 12 at Santa Rita L 45-14

Oct. 19 Marana L 37-13

Oct. 26 Pueblo W 41-21

Nov. 2 at Cholla W 35-0

2008 schedule

Aug. 29 Cienega        

Sept. 5 at Rio Rico

Sept. 12 at Douglas        

Sept. 19 Flowing Wells    

Sept. 26 at Sabino            

Oct. 10 Canyon Del Oro    

Oct. 17 Santa Rita            

Oct. 24 at Marana            

Oct. 31 at Pueblo    

Nov. 7 Cholla

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

Girls Volleyball (4, 5, 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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