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Adjusting to new coach and getting healthy, Warriors have won three of last four

After losing their first three games of the season, it would have been easy for Fallbrook to write off 2008. They certainly had enough excuses, from adjusting to a new coach to dealing with injuries all over the field.

Instead, the Warriors have won three of their last four games. Friday night, Fallbrook (3-4, 1-1 Avocado) hosts Torrey Pines (2-4-1, 0-1-1) at 7 p.m.

“After the three losses, we regrouped and thought our philosophy on the season,” said junior wide receiver Cody Williams. “We just decided that we really needed to come together and get our heads in the game.”

First-year head coach Joe Silvey said one reason for Fallbrook’s recent success is that the team is starting to grasp the new systems he implemented on both sides of the ball. Because Silvey was hired in March, he couldn’t really start teaching the team new schemes until spring ball.

On defense this year, Fallbrook is running the same odd stack defense that Silvey ran as Carlsbad’s defensive coordinator for the previous eight seasons. Offensively, the Warriors converted from a West Coast offense to a spread this season.

“It was difficult learning the system, but it was okay,” Williams said. “I think everyone has pretty much got the system down.” As if adjusting to a new coaching staff and learning completely new schemes wasn’t hard enough, Fallbrook was hit early in the season with a rash of injuries. Silvey shrugged his shoulders when asked which positions suffered injuries.

“Where weren’t they?” he asked.

One position that repeatedly got hit early in the season was quarterback.

“Just to talk about the quarterback position,” Silvey said, “our second-string quarterback broke his collarbone in a scrimmage before the season. Our first-string quarterback [Michael Welsh] injured his knee in the Vista game – he wasn’t able to play in the third game.

“So by the third game of the season, we had moved a wide receiver [Aaron Atkins] to quarterback, who promptly broke his jaw in about the first four minutes of the Mt. Carmel game. About four minutes into our third game of the season, we were down to our fourth quarterback [Jeremy Hanson].”

Fallbrook has had full services of first-stringer Welsh starting their 24-0 win over El Camino on Sept. 26. Since then, the Warriors are 3-1 and Welsh is a big reason why – he has completed 58 percent of his throws, tossing eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. But Welsh is not the only injured offensive starter.

“We still have not had our starting offense on the field together yet this year. We’re hoping that we might have that for next week,” Silvey said.

Silvey said two key players for Fallbrook this season have been seniors Kameron Drawhorn and Jake Ware. Drawhorn plays both ways and lines up at three different spots on offense, and Ware starts at linebacker but has also filled in at running back for an injured Mitchell Salazar in the last two games, carrying the ball 37 times for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

Fallbrook saw their three-game win streak come to an end last Friday, losing 49-30 at Escondido. Silvey said although disappointing, the Warriors’ loss to the 6-1 Cougars was beneficial.

“I think it gives us somewhat of a measuring stick – that we are able to compete with some of the better teams in the county,” Silvey said.

Following their game against Torrey Pines on Friday, the Warriors close out the regular season with La Costa Canyon and Mission Hills – two teams that have been in the top-10 all season.

“We’re looking forward to these next games,” Williams said. “We’re just fighting to prove to all the teams overlooking us that you shouldn’t overlook Fallbrook.”

After what the Warriors have overcome this season, facing the county’s best may not seem that tall an order.

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