Saturday’s first round playoff game in Florence was the first home playoff game in more than 20 years. The Falcons didn’t waste much time and opened with a 47 yard touchdown run by Colby Kohlman. It was the first of eight touchdowns in the 59-6 route of Shepherd, their Eastern B opponent.
“I knew when we scored on that first play,” said senior Colby Kohlman. “We were clicking on all cylinders.”
Shepherd’s Zaylen Munn returned the kickoff after the Florence touchdown for 85 yards and a Mustang touchdown.
And then Florence got clicking. The defense picked off six Shepherd passes including a 30 yard interception for a touchdown by sophomore Blake Shoupe. Another interception, this time by Jonny Chamberlin, set up a 43 yard scoring run by Kohlman. The two-point conversion pass fro mPat Duchein to Luke Maki was good.
Coach Pat Duchein said he was proud his Falcons and how they never let up during the game. “This group is going to keep fighting and keep fighting. It’s going to be this way for a few years to come. Defense, they’re united right now, which is great going into the playoffs. They know what each other are doing.”
Florence capitalized on a Shepherd mistake on a Florence punt and that set up the final touchdown of the quarter. Florence punted a 45 yard punt to Shepherd. The ball went right through the Shepherd receiver’s hands and fell to the ground where Florence recovered with first and goal to go. Aiden Tollefson raced through from four yards out for the score to put the Falcons up, 29-6, at the end of the first quarter.
The Falcons continued to mix it up in the second quarter with both a passing and running offense making it tough for the Mustangs to get their defense going. In a nice crossing play, Shoupe came across the field to catch the ball and race 64 yards to the end zone while Maki put down a defense stopping block. Coach Duchein was quick to yell, “That’s a highlight, that’s a highlight,” as the Falcons celebrated.
“We’ve got some sophomores out there that are just fundamentally sound and phenomenal guys,” said Duchein. “Blake Shoupe and Luke Maki, Jaren McNair, Jared Pallo and Levi Posey, those guys are contributing week in and week out and they’re good. They are a solid group. Great leaders, mental toughness, and come to practice every day and go to work.”
While the Florence offense was lighting up the scoreboard, it was the Falcon defense that was lighting up the Mustangs. The Mustangs were unable to get any traction on the ground or in the air.
“My assistant coaches did a phenomenal job getting them ready to go and the boys just played their hearts out,” said Duchein. He went on to say that although his team is not the biggest but they are the fiercest.
Kohlman threw two more touchdown passes, one to Maki from 50 yards out and another to Eli Christiansen from 21 yards out. Kohlman also had a 66 yard scoring run. Zaluski completed all but one PAT. He also had a 31 yard field goal to end the game.
Florence will travel to Fairfield on Saturday, November 9, to take on the defending state champions. The perennially tough Eagles may have their hands full this year. Duchein said the Falcons went to Fairfield two years ago in the first round playoffs. “It was kind of one of those situations where at the time we were just happy to be there.”
“This year, it’s going to be a different story. We’ve kind of been looking forward to playing them again.”
As for Kohlman and then team, they plan on focusing on doing what needs to be done.