Warriors football team ready for home opener

Fallbrook High varsity cornerback Julian Arteaga leaps high in the air and grabs an interception to end a Del Norte drive. Tim Gross photos

The Fallbrook High football team will play its home opener Friday (Sept. 8) after beginning the season with a pair of road losses that couldn’t have been more different.

The Warriors kicked off their season Aug. 25 at Westview and were never in the game, getting shutout 41-0. In their second game, Sept. 1 at Del Norte, the Warriors battled throughout and led late in the fourth quarter before the Nighthawks scored with 27 seconds left in the game to secure a 27-21 victory.

Fallbrook head coach Darius Pickett told his team after the tough loss to Del Norte that he “loved the effort.”

“They fought,” said Pickett, while acknowledging the last-minute loss stung his players. “These games hurt, and they should. You’re competing to win, and to lose a close one like that, it should hurt. But overall I was much more pleased with this game, regardless of the outcome. I was just much happier with our performance than I was the first week.”

Pickett said the team’s performance against Del Norte lifted his spirits.

“I’m happy,” said Pickett. “I got my excitement back. The first (game) kind of took it out of me. I was kind of dumfounded with how we performed. But now I’m back in and I’m ready to go. I know what we can do.”

Fallbrook High faces a tough test in its first home game as it hosts Torrey Pines, which is ranked ninth in the San Diego section. Torrey Pines opened its season Aug. 25 in Honolulu, Hawaii, where it suffered a 23-7 defeat to Punahu at Aloha Stadium. Torrey Pines then won its home opener Sept. 1, defeating Santa Fe Christian 35-17.

“They’re a good team and execute what they do to perfection,” said Pickett of Torrey Pines. “So we have to match that discipline.”

Pickett said the play of his defense, especially the defensive line, pleased him the most in the Del Norte game.

“I think the defensive line did a great job of just doing their job and playing disciplined football, and I think that helped everybody else out,” said Pickett. “The linebackers played much better this week as well. If the D-line is doing their job it just makes things easier for the guys behind them. I definitely know we got a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”

Fallbrook High cornerbacks Julian Arteaga and Arturo Vargas both had interceptions, and the Warrior defense also forced some fumbles.

Offensively, the Warriors had some big plays. Quarterback Jake McBroom connected with wide receiver Arteaga for a 60-yard gain that set up a one-yard scoring plunge by McBroom in the first quarter.

The Warrior defense forced a fumble that set up Fallbrook’s second touchdown of the first quarter, a 16-yard pass from McBroom to slot receiver Luke Conley that gave Fallbrook a 14-7 lead.

“It was good execution, a good call by the quarterback and a good route by the receiver,” said Pickett of 16-yard touchdown strike. “That was a good play.”

Fallbrook’s third and final touchdown came in the fourth quarter when McBroom hit Conley over the middle. Conley split two defenders to turn a short gain into a 58-yard scoring play, which gave the Warriors a 21-20 lead that they would eventually lose in the final minute of play.

“The offense was better (than the first week), but I think we have a lot of work to do,” said Pickett. “We still made a lot of mental mistakes.”

Pickett also said he could have done a better job.

“I think I could have handled the time management better at the end of the game,” said Pickett. “It could have made the outcome different if I had made different or better decisions.”

The Fallbrook High junior varsity dominated its game, winning 35-7 to improve to 2-0 on the season.

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