Colfax strives for pennant

By: Mike Ray, Colfax Record Sports Editor
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For all the success the Colfax High football program has had in the Tony Martello-era, there is one recent drought that the Falcons would love to end this season. Despite winning six league football titles since 2004, the Falcons have gone seven seasons without posing for a team photo at midfield with a blue CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship banner in hand. “It’s not something we talk about but it’s always out there,” Martello said this week. “First, we strive to win every game and win our league. It’s so hard to win a league championship. People really don’t realize how hard it is.” While winning a league title is tough enough, getting a section banner is even tougher. However, from 2001 to 2003, Martello’s Falcons made it look easy as they won three consecutive CIF crowns – the last two title wins coming over Manteca and Oakdale – going 32-2-1 in that span. “This is really gravy time for the kids,” Martello said. “The hard work they put in from summer until now is paying off.” This Friday, Martello and Co. – like they have done in 14 of his 16 seasons as Colfax’s head coach – begin another quest for the elusive blue pennant when they kick off the playoffs with a 7 p.m. home game against Dixon, the Golden Empire League champion. For the uninformed, Martello has had only two of his squads not reach the post season. The first came in his first season as Colfax’s head coach in 1996. Despite finishing in a three-way tie for the Golden Empire League championship, the Falcons were left on the back porch of the playoffs because of a poorer overall season record. The second time was in 2008 and, to make a long story short, had to do with a bus ride headed to Oakdale that was cut short. Enough said. If the Falcons are to make a run at this year’s CIF crown, they will have to be at the top of their game. Nine of the 16 teams entered in the Div. IV bracket have records of better than 7-3. One team, Ripon, is 8-2 with both losses coming to Escalon, 10-0, and Hilmar, 8-2. If Colfax can get past Dixon on Friday, it’s probable that a high-powered Liberty Ranch team with the leading rusher in the state is next up. “There’s really no easy ones in the playoffs,” Martello said. “It sounds like a cliché but you have to take them one at a time.” Grid Picks A perfect 7-0 in high school predictions helps up the season slate to 76-17 (.711). This week: Colfax 33, Dixon 12 – Falcons and Rams have history, just nothing recent. Placer 27, Patterson 24 – Visiting Tigers have USC bound lineman. Sonora 22, Bear River 14 – Long trip to Sonora isn’t what Bruins needed. Oakdale 30, Center 10 – Someone had to draw short straw in Div. III. Del Oro 42, Sacramento 7 – DO’s JV call-ups will see plenty of playing time. Elsewhere: Nevada Union 26, Franklin 22; Whitney 28, Pioneer 16; Escalon 48, Marysville 6; Central Catholic 33, Modesto Christian 20; Argonaut 20, Orestimba 14; Hilmar 34, Linden 17; Ripon 27, Livingston 9; Liberty Ranch 26, Calaveras 21.