Four Falcons go three-for-three
Football: Nelson, Oh, Pitcher and Price win titles from Grade 10 to 12
Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017 06:00 am
Four Foothills Falcons have ended close to a decade of football together with their third straight high school provincial title.
Foothills seniors QB Tyson Pitcher, RB Payton Price, safety/receiver Seth Nelson and RB/LB Jude Oh did not ever lose a high school game in November as the Falcons won their third Tier II title when the Falcons downed the Lloydminster Barons 21-0 Saturday in Lacombe.
It was a bittersweet moment for the close Falcons — especially for Oh, who missed the majority of the 2017 season due to injury.
“I feel proud to be part of this team — I will love these guys to the end,” Oh said. “It hurt a little bit because I couldn’t ride along with these guys to the very end of it, but it is what it is.”
What it is, is a football friendship that goes beyond high school — they speculated it was seven or eight years ago since they started together as Foothills Atom Eagles.
Pitcher played QB with the Bantam Eagles, and then he backed up Trey Kellogg behind centre in the Falcons’ 2015 banner year as a rookie.
“I watched Trey play and I knew I had big shoes to fill,” said Pitcher of Kellogg, who is now a receiver with the UBC Thunderbirds. “He and Jackie (then QB coach Jackie Kellogg) were my mentors. They helped me a lot. I tried to learn as much as I could.”
Pitcher found himself in a tough spot at the start of this season. He joined Oh on the sidelines after suffering an injury in Foothills’ opening game.
“It was frustrating but I stayed there (on the sidelines) to support my brothers any way I could,” he said.
Prior to Saturday’s game with Lloyd, the QB had to keep his emotions in check.
“It was really emotional for me in the locker-room getting ready,” Pitcher said. “This is our last game and I have been with these guys eight years, Jude maybe seven.”
Pitcher hasn’t decided his football future after high school.
Some of those games included a few defeats – losing to the Tier I LCI Rams and the Wise Wood Warriors and being knocked off by cross-town rivals Holy Trinity Academy 14-10 in late September. That would be the last game the Falcons would lose.
“We knew that if we put in the work we had the capacity to be a good team,” Nelson said. “After we lost to HTA we realized you can’t just go out there and think good things are going to happen. Coach (Darren) Olson always says you have to go out there and do your job to play good football.”
Nelson plans to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“I am happy with how it ended but I am sad with how it ended,” Nelson said. “Football creates these great bonds between the brotherhood. They (Price, Pitcher and Oh) will be my friends for life.”
He admits he didn’t ever dream he and his friends would win a title all three years of high school.
“I remember watching and hearing how the Falcons had lost in the playoffs and thinking how hard that must be,” Nelson said.
The Falcons will miss Nelson’s right foot. He was Mr. Automatic on Foothills converts and was a weapon on the field goal from within 45 yards.
Price has been a workhorse on the Falcons offence as well as stepping into the Foothills defence from time to time in all three of his years at the Comp.
“Winning the provincial championship is the biggest thing you can get,” he said. “To win it three times is special. But anything is possible. As long as you work hard and stay focused, anything is possible.”
Price is undecided as to what his future is for football, but playing at the Canadian university level is a possibility.
Falcons head coach Darren Olson said it’s not a coincidence that character players like the Falcons Fab Four have won three titles.
“All four are unbelievable kids — they are honour roll students and great examples of what we want our kids to be,” Olson said.
Another guy who has been there for all three years is Olson.
Like Bama’s Nick Saban, he’s built a program by sticking to the process.
Part of the process is playing teams at the higher Tier I level, even if it means losing to the Wise Woods.
“We were playing a tough team today (Lloyd) and we had to make some big plays and we did,” Olson said. “Us playing the tough teams at the start of the year is good for the program.”
He said the Falcons trying to keep players going two-ways to a minimum also helps the program in the long run.
“Getting those young guys on the field and making sure they have a chance to play helps us in the future,” he said.
Olson has plenty of help in building a dynasty.
“I truly believe we have the best high school coaching staff in the province,” Olson said.
“The football community is big but it is small. My connection with Colin (Sheedy) and Bryan (Brandford) goes back 35 years.”
Sheedy, Brandford and Olson won a Vanier Cup with the U of C Dinos in the 1980s.
The other coaches include defensive co-ordinator Nathan St. Dennis, offensive co-ordinator John Price, Jackie Kellogg, Cam Burbank, Jesse Krysa, Clint Van Ostrand, Dylan Helbing, Brock Balog and Ken West.
The straw that stirs the Falcons’ drink is team manager Lori Yeats.