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By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Opinion: Warriors fall short in finale with RBV – but there's hope for the future

 

Last updated 11/8/2019 at 7:57am

Shelby Ahrend photos

Fallbrook's defensive line looks hungry just before they sack the Longhorn QB in the first few minutes of play in the game against Rancho Buena Vista, Nov. 1.

The Warriors varsity football team must have had their Friday, Nov. 1, game with Rancho Buena Vista circled on their schedule for a while as the Longhorns had yet to win a game this season.

Though it was perhaps their best opportunity to get a win this season, the Warriors (0-10, 0-5) fell behind early and lost their final game of the season to the Longhorns (1-9, 1-4) 42-0 at Fallbrook Union High School.

It was senior night for the Warriors and a good indication of why the Warriors struggled all season long was evident when the team sent only six seniors to be honored.

Given the turmoil those seniors have endured over the past four seasons, each was honored for their commitment and loyalty to the program. It would have been easy for those seniors to quit on the program when the program suffered, but they didn't, and they should be commended for that.

During their four years, the seniors have had four head coaches – Bob Burt in 2016, Darius Pickett in 2017-2018, Jim Fisher for less than four months and Troy Everhart who took over a month before the Warriors' first game.

Also, during that time, FUHS has had four principals in five years, with that amount of turnover and turmoil at the very top, it is tough for any team to right a ship without a rudder anywhere to be seen.

With a new principal who has a background in sports, a new school district superintendent who supports athletics, Everhart laying the groundwork for just how the Warriors can return to prominence and the win column, and a freshman team that went undefeated this season, there's hope.

Fallbrook Football became one of the most respected programs in San Diego County during the 1980s through the early 2000s and it wasn't by mistake.

It also wasn't because of one or two standout coaches.

My father, Tom Pack, helped put the program on the map. He had the foresight to ask for the help of an offensive guru who had moved into town to bring the run-and-shoot offense to the team.

But not only did he ask for help from football minds, he asked for help from the community – and the community answered.

He built a new weight room, installed new lights on the football field, had players outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, keeping players on the field longer and safer. He built a house with the support of the community and took the team to Hawaii and then the school's first CIF Championship.

I can't even attempt to count the number of times I sat in the car as he went to pick up a check donation from a local business or was putting the pressure on someone to step up to the plate for his players.

At that time, he had a coaching staff built almost entirely from teachers at the school – guys that could keep an eye on each and every kid and make sure they were doing what they were supposed to do.

The head coach of the freshman team was in that role for probably 10 years.

The significance of that can't be understated or replicated these days.

By the time Randy Blankenship brought his incredible offensive and defensive game plans to Fallbrook, every kid on that roster had an expectation of success because that was all they had ever seen.

Blankenship made them unstoppable.

When he left, it took the wind out of the Warriors sails. That's not to place blame on the coach, he was entitled to make the move to Texas high school football.

From my perspective, instability began to creep into the program. Soon after, the losses piled up. The momentum was gone.

Everhart comes from another hotbed of high school football, Ohio, where he had success almost every where he coached.

He has said first and foremost, what the Warriors need to do is change their body type. That means hit the weight room and work hard to transform their bodies into those of varsity football players.

He will be able to install his system into Fallbrook football, work in a way that he understands down to his bones, and train students the way he knows has had success in the past.

If Everhart can gain buy-in from the players and establish consistency in the coaching staff over the next six months, there's no reason they can't begin to win again.

The one factor that will bring the Warriors back to prominence, though, will be the support of the community.

Warrior Wesley Eatmon returns the ball for Fallbrook.

Alumni, residents, player parents and families, all coming together to raise money, support the team and coaching staff, and instill belief into those young athletes will do wonders for this program.

From what I have seen, Fallbrook football players are the same type of kid I grew up idolizing – tough, smart, athletic and driven.

Don't place the responsibility of success solely at the feet of the players or coaches – understand that any good program has the support of the entire community.

Let's prove to these six seniors that they were right not to quit when the going got tough and their efforts have been rewarded and remembered.

The future begins now.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.

 

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