It’s all ball for Baldoni

Colfax senior reinvents himself as a fullback after starring at linebacker
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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One of the top linebackers in the Pioneer Valley League the last two seasons is now perhaps the best fullback in the league. For Tommy Baldoni, not a lot has changed since 2009, when he flew around on the Colfax High defense, disposing of blockers and consuming ball carriers. He’s still dishing out big hits and using his great speed, only now he sometimes has the ball in his hands. “It’s kind of the same thing,” Baldoni said. “It hurts a little bit not playing on the other side of the ball, but I just had to do what the team needed.” The 5-10, 200-pound Baldoni was needed on the offensive side when, shortly before the season, three Colfax players were arrested for an off-the-field incident and eventually sentenced to one year in juvenile detention. Coach Tony Martello approached Baldoni about the move and he was more than willing to make the sacrifice. “There was a big hole to fill and I told him I’d be happy to do it,” Baldoni said. “He’s an awesome kid, with high character,” Martello said of the senior. “He will do anything to help our team win, anything to help his fellow team members.” Baldoni has proven to be just as valuable on offense as he was on defense. He leads Colfax and is fourth in the PVL in rushing with 761 yards despite missing nearly three full games with a concussion. He’s averaging 152 yards per game and more than nine yards per carry. Baldoni’s emergence has also helped open things up for Colfax’s passing game. Junior Austin Young leads the PVL in passing yards. “I’ve been really impressed with Austin,” Baldoni said. “He’s making big plays when we need them.” So is Baldoni. He rambled for 249 yards in a win over Davis earlier this season and added 225 in a 35-0 shutout of Center to open PVL play. He said it helps having played linebacker, where he used to hunt down tailbacks. “It’s helped me understand the game a lot better, knowing the other side of the ball,” said Baldoni, who also plays basketball and runs track at Colfax. Tonight the balanced Falcon attack faces a Placer defense that has made big strides of its own. The Hillmen have stifled tough Lincoln and Bear River running games in their last two outings. Baldoni said Colfax has had a tough week of practice heading into tonight’s game, which could decide the PVL title. They’ve also gained confidence since the trauma prior to the season that left the team scrambling to fill holes. “We’ve just been working hard and good things happen when you work hard,” Baldoni said. “We don’t have a lot of guys, but we’re all buying in.”