Opening kickoff in 29 days!

By Pete Mohr | August 6, 2008

Falcon Football already challenged
FALCON FIELD – Most CSHS football fans will read this article on Thursday, Aug. 7. That means Head Football Coach Chad DeGrenier will be only 29 days away from the September 5 opening game, at home, against the Higley Knights, who’ve got to be smarting from four straight losses to the “Birds” – most notably the 2006 4A Division II State Championship. This 2008 season will be Coach D.’s fifth at the Falcon helm.

footballSonoran News to Coach D. at a break in morning practice, July 31: “Coach, if my math is right, you’re 23-23.” “Yep,” he concurred good-naturedly, “even Steven.” Regrettably, to preserve that .500 mark, he faces some pretty formidable challenges – not of his own creation. He must deal with three new superiors (listed by chain-of-command): Roger Hill, Athletic Director. A good man, but with no athletic director experience at the high school level; Acting Principal Dr. Donna Lewis, who replaces the athlete-knowledgeable/friendly Sid Bailey; and acting CCUSD Superintendent Dr. Debbie Burdick, who took over for the resigned Dr. Tacy Ashby August 1.

Second challenge: at this writing, Coach DeGrenier has no JV coaches. His nominations last month of three football-qualified volunteers were rejected by the CCUSD Board, which caved in to the squawking of a handful of over involved parents at the Youth Football level. Memo to Dr. Burdick: CCUSD needs to “fry” its “bigger fish” and support Falcon coaches in their important personnel requests. Board Member Javier Ledesma: you know that better than any of your colleagues.

Third challenge: on my first visit to Falcon Field since the end of Soccer season, I could not believe how its condition has deteriorated. Uneven patches of burned off turf (from lack of watering and regular mowing) with potentially dangerous exposed sprinkler heads. Why no continuing effort by the Falcon Men’s Club? Prohibited by CCUSD Director of Facilities Dennis Rohlers, who’s decreed that only his personnel will perform maintenance duties. With CCUSD close enough to “broke” for government work, where is Director Rohlers going to get the funds and manpower to reverse the deterioration of Falcon Field? Second memo to Dr. Brudick: get across to Mr. Rohler that he needs to dismount from his high horse and accept assistance from the private sector and volunteers. Without it, football players – and visitors – will be irresponsibly exposed to injury and Falcon Field, itself, will be an embarrassment to both Cactus Shadows and the District. (When I return August 8 from a brief vacation, I’ll invite Mr. Rohlers to share with me his perspectives. I’ve always been a believer in “equal time.”)

Fourth challenge: numbers. I saw, plus or minus five bodies, only 90 Falcon aspirants – and August temps will cause attrition, as they always do. Dividing 90 by three teams obviously results in 30 members per team. That means Coach DeGrenier and his staff must contemplate the probability that more key players than they’d prefer will have to play on both sides of the ball. That’s tolerable, maybe, on the cooler nights of the last five games; but in the first five, when the Falcons will play at least two games on the hotter flatlands, having key players go both ways is not a plus.

Fifth challenge: replacing his two prospective starters at defensive tackle. “Plug” burned out on football; and “Stalk” a parentally-mandated transfer to (ugh!) Chaparral. Both will be missed.

To his credit, long ago recognized and praised by this writer, Coach D. knows how to make lemonade out of lemons: “This team needs disciplinary leadership. Discipline across the board: at every practice; in every game; for sure in the classroom; and in their personal conduct in social activities. Leadership? Over the next 30 days guys are going to have to step forward and lead this team.”

Hang in there, Falcons! Don’t let August defeat you. On the evening of September 5, when the Fightin’ Falcon Marching Band strikes up “Mighty Falcons” and you run onto the field through Cheer’s “Spirit Banner,” it’ll all be worth it. I’m rooting for each and every one of you!

Photo caption: “WE’RE GONNA RUN THE BALL!” Head Coach Chad DeGrenier emphasized. “Coach D.” will be counting on these “O” line guys to pave the way. (Kneeling, l-r) Cody January, Tyler Souva, Alex Boat; (standing, l-r) Bo Campbell, Jason Link (a timely “move-in” from the Chicago area), Nick Bennett and Tommy Nevin. Look for these Falcons to become “Hawgs” up front!
Photo by Pete Mohr