October 28, 2015

Oct. 23 (A): 34-point 2nd half powers comeback Falcons over Shadow Mountain Matadors,
55-45. “Ole!”

6-3 'Birds host 5-4 Notre Dame in Homecoming Night bid to make Division 3 State Playoffs; “Welcome home!” Monica Barrett, Bonnie Nystrom
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VIRGINIA BEACH, V.A. - Last Friday night at Shadow Mountain's stadium (“bullring”), there were neither “Ole!” shouts ringing from the home stands nor beleaguered bulls being “killed” - just football players exhausted by putting up 100 points! And it was the home standing “Matadors” who got the short end of the “sword,” gored by the Falcons' 55 winning total. The win, the Falcons' sixth in their last seven starts, assured Cactus Shadows a winning season, keeping alive their chances of earning their first trip to the Division 3 State Playoffs.

Playoffs or no Playoffs, these Falcons have fought hard to post their better-than-.500 record, especially praiseworthy after opening this 2015 season with back-to-back disappointing road losses at (Cottonwood, Mingus and Apollo.) The Falcons willed themselves to get off the deck – not an easy accomplishment. Congratulations to Falcon Football.

And a shout-out to sophomore quarterback Andrew Young, whose steadily-improving play was important in the team's rebound. After Young's “miracle” touchdown flip lifted the 'Birds to a dramatic last-seconds 21-20 win over Ironwood, the Falcons stayed focused on the seven games that lay ahead. Their third loss (a 26-34 heart breaker to Paradise Valley) came the night of October 2; but the Falcons put up a fight, the powerful Trojans, to that point, had not encountered. The 'Birds' then posted three straight “W”'s.

On this Tuesday, what can I write that might help the Falcons stay loose as they prepare to host arch-rival Notre Dame at this Friday's Homecoming? Well, after searching through my Cactus Shadows-Notre Dame memories, I'm recalling (with a grin on my face) the most outrageous prank at any football game I've ever attended. As luck would have it, this particular craziness unfolded “right here in the town of Cave Creek.”

As follows.

Saints at Falcons, mid-October 2005. For Notre Dame's fledgling football program, it was their first trip to the Desert Foothills. To their credit, Notre Dame, in sports parlance, “travels well,” meaning that a large contingent of students and fans most often follows them. On this particular evening, the NDP entourage filled both the east stands and end zone seating erected for this game. The stage was set for the inaugural meeting of two combatants who enjoy nothing more than beating up on each other. Football, baseball, girls soccer, volleyball … it's all the same.

There have been times – with plenty of fault on both sides – when the emotions of competition have crossed the lines of good sportsmanship. Reciting a chronology of abuses is unnecessary. I'm pleased to learn that such out-of-control contentiousness from both schools has subsided, as well it should have. Notre Dame's Athletic Director Monica Barrett and present CSHS Athletic Director Mike Siwek will see to it that such progress not only continues, but grows. Now, back to October 2005. Please excuse my having digressed (above.)

Have ten years really passed? Back on that wild night, most of today's Falcons and Saints were probably seven or eight, starring in Pop Warner or Cave Creek-Carefree Youth Football. Now that, indeed, is a sobering rear view mirror! Whatever … after the coin toss, both teams' game captains returned to their amped-up pre-kickoff huddles. I'm seeing – like yesterday – what followed. Please read on.

Without any warning, climbing over the fence behind the track and north end zone, there suddenly appeared a male figure clad only in an athletic supporter, tennis shoes and a Halloween-like gorilla mask! GASP! This brazen interloper was a real-live “streaker!” I thought immediately of the exclamation from Ray Stevens' classic story song, “The Streak” “Don't look, Ethel!” Said streaker turned out to be Terrell Treat, a home-grown Cactus Shadows senior. Laughter rippled through the west stands. What came next was hilarious. At least, I thought so.

The daring Mr. Treat crossed the goal line and was running at pretty good speed toward the Falcon sideline before he was tackled and taken to the ground by (then) CSHS Assistant Principal Clay Carpenter and Athletic Director Pete Gerlach. Among Cactus Shadows students, the affable Clay Carpenter was perhaps the most popular. Pete Gerlach and been at his “A.D.” post less than three months. I can't explain my lack of focus; but somehow, I whiffed on a priceless photo-op which was, Messrs. Carpenter and Gerlach sitting on a struggling Treat as they waited anxiously for the arrival of “Scottsdale's finest,” led by Cactus Shadows' resident security officer.

After Mr. Treat had been carried off to the slammer, order was quickly restored when Falcon slot receiver and kick return specialist Michael Moorer, CSHS '06, arguably the most talented football/soccer player in Cactus Shadows athletic history, fielded the streaker-delayed opening kickoff at his own 20, then raced, untouched, 80 yards down the west sideline for the touchdown that jump-started the Falcons to victory on that unforgettable night. I hope that readers will enjoy the Terrell Treat caper as much as I have retelling it.

Thanks for listening.

In winding down this football commentary, I enthusiastically add my good wishes to the warm welcome that the Cactus Shadows community will extend on Homecoming Night to Monica Barrett and Bonnie Nystrom who she recently coaxed out of retirement from CSHS (last June) to be her new administrative assistant. I've been privileged to know these good friends as two of the hardest-working, most unselfish persons ever to have loyally served Cactus Shadows. And they generously helped me many times. Why I've almost forgiven them for changing into the Purple and Gold!

To younger CSHS student fans (and your predecessors) who've participated in hijacking “Ole!” from Hispanic bullfighting arenas to Gringo sporting venues across the U.S. of A. I count on you to be in full volume as you “Back the 'Birds!” I'll be calling my special correspondent, Gabriella Gianni, CSHS '17 for her report on Homecoming Week. I'm assuming she'll be seated among you in “The Nest.”

Now, my most important focus shifts to the Falcons themselves. Guys, you have more that plenty on your plate this Halloween Eve. I encourage you: to defend your “house” - especially at Homecoming – against the “Bernies”; to bank win #7, giving Cactus Shadows its best record since 2010; and to stay in the hunt for a State Playoffs berth.

Over these last eight weeks, you Falcons, to a man, have toughed it out. And 20 Falcon Football seniors: Friday night's game will be your last “under Falcon Stadium lights.” So all of you, get 'er done!

Out of his heath-mandated semi-retirement, I bring back, “The Ol' Prognosticator,” Dino the Dinosaur, who predicts … Falcons, 34 – Saints, 24. From almost 3,000 miles away, let's see how close this geriatric writer can come to the “Ole!” cheer/chant:

“Ole! … Ole! … Ole! … Ole! - Ole! - Ole!!”

That's “close enough for government work!” Happy Homecoming, everyone!

- Pete Mohr