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The Fountain Hills High School football team fell 46-6 to Snowflake high school, the reigning 3A state champions last Friday night. The Falcons have a short week and hope to bounce back when they host Payson on a special night this Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.

“I think we tried to do too much,” Falcons head coach Jimmy Curtis said of the Snowflake game. “We were really excited after the 2-0 start [to the season], and maybe we put in too much game plan and weren’t hammering on our basics. I think going back to fundamentals and not overlooking the little things will be the main factor this week.”

After outscoring opponents 80-25 through two weeks of play, Fountain Hills ran into a physical and mental buzzsaw versus the Lobos.

The Falcons left school at 12:30 p.m. and didn’t return until 1: 30 a.m. the next day. There was also a 20-minute delay before the second half could start due to a stadium light failure.

All this compounded on the fact that the Falcons rely on several two-way players. They could not outlast the Lobos, who are a deep team and well-conditioned.

The Lobos scored on explosive plays, but none was more demoralizing than a punt return touchdown near the top of the second quarter. The special teams score made the game feel out of reach and put the Lobos up 24-0.

“It’s hard to prepare them for that,” Curtis said about mental challenges. “But we can prepare them better for the different obstacles they’ll see.”

Curtis said that the game against Snowflake showed his team how much more they must work. He pointed out how they will use this loss to prepare better for region opponents like Valley Christian and Arizona College Prep at the end of the season.

Despite every challenge, quarterback Spencer Nelson continued to fight. Nelson threw two interceptions but managed to get the Falcons on the score board with a touchdown pass to Ryan Dyhrkopp late in the fourth quarter. The Falcons failed to convert the two-point conversion.

“[Nelson] was always ready to attack,” Curtis said. “He never shied away from the opportunity to put the ball downfield. He’s new, and he’s just welcoming every challenge.”

Fountain Hills has another challenge this week. The Falcons were missing a few players against the Lobos but should have most of them back against Payson. Starting kicker Zach Munzinger is out and probably won’t return by Thursday.

Curtis called the upcoming matchup with Payson a “must-win” game. Both the Falcons and Longhorns are 2-1 and want bragging rights over the Battle of the Beeline. Falcon fans should hope there’s enough Thursday night madness to push them over the top.