The Fallbrook High football team will play its first league game Friday when it hosts San Pasqual. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Warriors enter Valley League competition battered and bruised after beginning the season with a tough non-league schedule that left them with a 0-4 record and a diminished roster of healthy players.
Fallbrook lost starting quarterback Jake McBroom in the second quarter of the third game of the season when he sustained a fractured collarbone while battling Torrey Pines. In the Warriors’ fourth game, a 39-0 loss to Christian Sept. 15, Caleb Maxwell suffered a foot injury and Julian Arteaga a concussion.
Arteaga has had previous concussions and due to family concerns will not play the remainder of the season. Maxwell was to have X-rays taken to determine whether he sustained a fracture in his foot or sprained it.
In what turned out to be his final high school game, Arteaga, a wide receiver and cornerback, had an 11-yard reception for a first down on offense and a bat down of a Christian pass on defense that forced a punt.
“It’s a huge loss,” said Fallbrook head coach Darius Pickett of being without Arteaga for the remainder of the season.
The home game against Christian started out on a positive note as the Warriors got a first down on the second play of the game when Jalen Webb followed his blockers and gained 11 yards on a run to the left side. Fallbrook would only get two more first downs in the first half, with one of them coming on a 20-yard completion from quarterback Christian Cruz to wide receiver Luke Conley.
“We’re still adjusting to losing our quarterback right now,” said Pickett of the offensive struggles.
Fallbrook had a fine defensive stand on Christian’s third offensive possession, which began with the Warriors’ Mikell Jackson sacking quarterback Brad Jeremiah for a five-yard loss. Fallbrook also put good pressure on Jeremiah on the next two downs, which resulted in a short completion that lost two yards and an incomplete pass. It was three and out and Christian had to punt.
Any thoughts that the strong showing by the defense might result in a momentum swing ended when the Warriors fumbled the punt and Christian took possession at the Fallbrook 25-yard line. The Patriots scored three plays later to take a 20-0 lead.
In fairness to Warrior punt returner Arturo Vargas, who called for a fair catch of the high punt, he didn’t appear to be given sufficient room by the Christian defense to make the catch. Fallbrook coaches hollered at officials to no avail that a penalty should be called.
“I do think there should have been a call on that play,” said Pickett. “They did not give our returner the space, the cushion that he was supposed to have to catch the ball. They actually ran into him.”
Pickett said the Warriors have to put the non-league games behind them and concentrate on the Valley League, where every team is 0-0 right now with a clean slate.
“That’s all we can do,” said Pickett. “None of those games matter. It’s all about league now. Fix what needs to be fixed and move forward.”
As for the league opener against San Pasqual, Pickett said, “It’s a game that if we do our job – do what we’re supposed to do – it should be a good game.”