Two teams searching for their first win of the season will clash after so-so starts.
Falcon and Air Academy will meet on Friday at the Kadet K-Dome for The Gazette Preps Game of the Week, hoping to wipe out rocky opening performances. Air Academy fell to Heritage 36-16, while Falcon lost to Pueblo Central 27-12.
“Any time you get beat, you have to turn back to fundamentals and make sure you’re doing those things properly,” Air Academy coach Scott Grinde said. “Football is not as complicated as we make it sometimes. You have to do those little things well and that’s what we’ve tried to emphasize this week in practice.”
In their respective season openers, Falcon and Air Academy combined for just 517 total yards of offense. Falcon, however, used its speed on special teams to rack up an additional 114 yards on kick returns.
Falcon senior back Drake Antoon was responsible for 110 kick return yards, including a 90-yard touchdown return, and had 152 rushing yards last week.
"Drake had an outstanding game," Falcon coach Chris Waca said. "For us, I think everyone has known about him for the past couple years. He’s an explosive back and he has good speed and good vision on the field. He’s just been working his tail off."
Grinde said while Falcon has a lot of talented athletes, Antoon will be one of Air Academy’s key targets on Friday.
“I’m very impressed with some of their athletes,” Grinde said. “They have a super back (Antoon), and he can be dangerous. They’re also talented at quarterback and have some size up front and they do a good job with their scheme.”
Last week Falcon quarterback Francisco Ponce completed 9 of 18 attempts for 90 yards.
On the Air Academy side, the Kadets have a solid core of upperclassman talent, led by quarterback Bo Powers. Although he passed for just 39 yards last week, Grinde said he’s impressed with Bowers’ improvement.
In addition, brothers Zach and Ethan Martin stepped up for the Kadets last week. Zach had 126 rushing yards and made a field goal, while Ethan had two touchdowns - one rushing, one receiving.
“Those guys have to make plays for us offensively. And they did that last week, just not quite enough,” Grinde said. “Those guys are big for us and we have to have them do a great job. Zach Martin, our tailback, did a really nice job and got a lot of yards after contact and Bo has improved in his throwing and we have to help support him even more.”
On the defensive side, Falcon is led by Caleb Sherrill, who pulled down 15 tackles last week, including 12 solo and four for a loss. Joseph Roybal had two interceptions for the Falcons.
"Every snap he is playing full speed, he plays hard all the time," Waca said. "We would love to have every kid follow that type of attitude each day on the field."
Waca, who is in his first season in Colorado Springs after taking the head coaching position at Falcon last spring, said his team is adjusting to the new scheme he brought from Illinois.
“We have to do a good job of continuing to prepare right up to the game and play harder and longer than they do,” Grinde said. “It’s going to be a good game and definitely a challenge for us.”
Air Academy is 0-4 against Falcon, but it has been almost five years since their last encounter, in which the Falcons claimed a 52-12 victory.
FALCONS-KADETS AT A GLANCE
Game info: Falcon Falcons (0-1) at Air Academy Kadets (0-1) … Friday, September 7, 7 p.m. at the Air Academy K-Dome. Reminder that all fans must enter through the South Gate. More information on regulations can be found here.
Teams: Under first-year head coach Chris Waca, Falcon fell to Pueblo Central in the team’s season opener last week. The Falcon special teams made an impact, as senior running back Drake Antoon ran for a 90-yard kick return in the season half. Antoon had 152 rushing yards and 110 kick return yards last week. Falcon quarterback Francisco Ponce was 9-for-18 last week with 90 yards and a touchdown. Colton Minnich was his top receiver with 89 yards.
On the defensive side Caleb Sherrill pulled down 15 tackles, including 12 solo and four for a loss. Joseph Roybal had two interceptions for the Falcons.
Air Academy is fresh off a 36-16 loss to Heritage in which the Kadets’ core of upperclassmen emerged as key components in Air Academy’s offense. Senior Zach Martin ran for 126 yards, and also put in work as the team’s kicker, making a 32-yard field goal, an extra point and adding 119 yards on four punts. Junior Ethan Martin ran for 58 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a pass in the end zone.
Senior quarterback Kyle Pope was 8-for-16 for just 39 yards and ran for 19 on two carries.