Friday Night “Light’s Out” Defense Propels Falcons to Victory at Levi’s Stadium
By Scott Goodrich
Playing on a stage that doesn’t get any bigger and under “Friday Night Light’s” that don’t get any brighter, the Scotts Valley Falcons rose to the occasion, beating the Watsonville Wildcatz 7-0 at Levi’s Stadium on a perfect night for football.
The sparkling 68,500 seat, 1.2 billion dollar venue, home to the San Francisco 49er’s and site of the next Super Bowl, has been the talk of the town ever since it was announced this spring that Scotts Valley would be one of six high school teams’ playing in the second annual showcase dubbed “Friday Night Light’s”.
When Senior quarterback Nick Reyes came home and told his parents about the Levi’s Stadium opportunity earlier this summer, they initially thought he was joking. “Nick came home really excited. At first he was really quiet about it and kept it low key,” said his dad, Rick Reyes who is also an assistant coach for the Falcons softball team. “All summer, the team was preparing for this night and worked hard to represent themselves well.”
The game itself was a knockdown, drag out defensive battle between two teams bent on performing well in the spotlight. Early game jitters quickly dissipated while the players on both teams got down to the simple business of playing football.
Meanwhile, something else was materializing in the seats, aisles and lobbies within the stadium; a community coming together to support not only the football team but also representing Scotts Valley as a city. “We live in an awesome town and it was really fun to see everyone come together,” said Jennifer Spence, the mother of two Falcon players. Oldest son Tanner, a team captain and senior linebacker and tight end was on the sidelines nursing a broken foot suffered in the previous game against Los Banos. Younger son Carson, a sophomore member of the Junior Varsity team was called up, along with the other sophomores, as a nice gesture by the coaching staff , to suit up for the Levi’s game. “It’s a chance of a lifetime for these boys to play on this field,” said Spence. “Tanner was devastated when he broke his foot because he’d been looking forward to this game from the time it was announced. But he was excited for his teammates and of course cheering them on.”
As the game progressed, the Falcons pounded the ball, primarily courtesy of senior tail back Troy Menna who finished the game with 27 carries for 142 yards. Ironically, it was a pass play at the end of the second quarter from Reyes to a wide open Dawson Danner in the right flat from 14 yards out that provided the lone touchdown of the game.
With the Falcons up 7-0 at the half, it was time for the Scotts Valley cheer leaders to take the field and fire up the crowd, led by the packed student section at midfield.
John Abel, Vice President of the Scotts Valley School Board who attended the game with his family couldn’t help but notice the enthusiastic Falcon fans while stretching his legs. “I think this is a tremendous experience. It’s so exciting for the boys on the field and actually the whole Scotts Valley community,” said Abel who attended the pre-game tail gate party sponsored by the Falcon Club with food supplied by a variety of Scotts Valley businesses. “This wasn’t just about the team or even the school district, this is about the entire city and it’s a phenomenal event.”
As the second half began, Scotts Valley’s stifling defense continued where it left off, shutting down Watsonville in every facet of the game. “That was the best defensive performance in the history of Scotts Valley High School,” said Head Coach Louie Walters, now in his 16th season in that capacity with the Falcons. “We held Watsonville to four first downs and 60 yards total offense, that’s unheard of.” Defensive back Kyle Giguiere, who recorded the first tackle of the game, put the finishing touches on the defensive master piece by intercepting a Watsonville pass with 39 seconds to play in the game. From there, the Falcons ran out the clock and ran onto the field they will never forget, celebrating their first victory of the young season.
As the Falcon fans cheered the players as they walked up the stadium steps, led by Tanner Spence, Assistant Coach Reggie Stephens, himself a former NFL player, was smiling with pride. “The team was focused, played really good defense and did just enough on offense to win,” said Stephens who admitted to “getting a few goosebumps” as he walked into the Levi’s Stadium locker room. Quick to praise Watsonville for a well played game, Stephens was simple and to the point in describing the Falcons first win; “We played a full game. The team feels great!”
So does the entire community of Scotts Valley!