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CIFL Falcon Juniors

The Falcon Junior team won the CIFL Football Championship on Oct. 10, beating Dwight 26-8. Pictured after their victory are (front row, left to right) Brandon Reynolds, David Zbinden, Rylan DeFries, Seth Kollross, Seth Barnes, Chase Minion, Kellen DeSchepper and Parker Chase. Pictured in the second row are Brock Phillips, Keith Masco, Lane Phillips, Braylen Kean, Aiden Phillips, Kallen Robertson, Ty Harden, Zach Barnes, Aidan Laughery and Kellan Fanson. Pictured in the third row are Mason Kutemeier, Jacob Rutledge, Jack Schultz, Maine-Maine Mays, Zander Wier, Brandon Mueller, Gavin Williams and Austin Elliott. Pictured in the back row are coaches Greg Laughery, Josh Chase, Joe Wier, Doug Fanson and Aaron DeFries.

GIBSON CITY - About a month ago, the Falcon Juniors football team finished a great season that went somewhat unnoticed.

While everyone was talking about the Falcon varsity football team and their run at a possible championship, another group was quietly winning with ease.

Averaging an impressive 29 points per game, while allowing just under 10, the fifth and sixth grade Falcon Juniors football team breezed through the regular season undefeated.

Their game play spoke volumes, but they kept a low profile, speaking only of the goal they had at the beginning of the season—to go undefeated and win a championship.

That conversation from the first week of practice was repeated throughout the year, and the team kept pumping out a consistent effort, allowing a maximum of 16 points just twice due to late game touchdowns when the game was essentially over.

“We talked about those goals every week,” head coach Doug Fanson said. “We pushed the boys in practice and games and never once heard a complaint. When we needed them to step up, they always did what we asked.”

The time they needed to step up the most was in a rematch with Paxton, which had lost to the Falcons 28-6 earlier in the season and were out for revenge.

Won “on the backs of (the) defense,” the Falcons shut down Paxton’s run game to help offset an improved Panther defense and pulled off a 14-0 win.

Even after the second victory, the Falcons’ biggest concern was potentially facing the improving local rival in the playoffs.

“We knew it would be a huge test, and it is always hard to beat a team three times in a season,” Fanson said.

In order to prepare for any matchup they might face in the postseason, the squad mixed things up offensively with a double wing, wishbone and wing-t.

“We asked a lot of our backs, running three different offensive sets trying to balance our attack, so we would not have any one player focused on,” Fanson said.

The third of those offensive sets was kept under wraps for the most part, being used sparingly in the games leading up to the postseason.

And after a 38-16 playoff victory over Clifton, the wing-t was finally put on full display in the championship.

With their title foe, Dwight, dominating the time of possession with two big running backs, Gibson City had to make the most of their offensive touches.

The Falcons pulled off some huge runs on quick tosses that led to some early touchdowns, while continuing their defensive creativity.

“We knew our defense was the key so we were rotating the defensive lineman nonstop to keep them fresh,” Fanson said. “The balance of talent on our team is outstanding, so putting in players and keeping them fresh is a huge advantage. Our (defensive) ends and linebackers did an excellent job of containing the run and swarming to the ball.”

Late in the game, a tight end reverse and onside kick that went for a touchdown sealed the win and made the Falcon Juniors the league champions with a 26-8 title win.

“This is simply a special group combining the two classes,” Fanson said. “They play well together, and they are extremely balanced on both sides of the ball. They are also a great group of kids to coach.”

Divided fairly evenly between linemen and backs that are all quick enough “to play anywhere,” the group is said to have accepted whatever roles were asked by their coaches, Greg Laughery, Josh Chase, Aaron DeFries, Joe Wier and Fanson.

“This is a quiet group that does not do a lot of yelling but quietly do their jobs and seem to take a lot of satisfaction in everyone’s success,” Fanson said.

The team finished 8-0 while outscoring their opponents 232-79 overall.

“We are very proud of this group and look forward to them continuing the GCMS Falcon football reputation,” Fanson said. “They will be fun to watch over the next several years.”

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