The Falcons had successful football seasons in 2006 and 2007, lean years in 2008 and 2009, improved in 2010 and, ta da!
It’s 2011, and Donoho (7-1, 4-1 Class 1A, Region 6) plays host to Akron (6-2, 4-1) tonight, with the winner taking the region’s second spot and earning a home playoff game.
It would mark Donoho’s first home playoff game since 2006, and the Falcons haven’t lost at home this season.
So, Donoho is playing for big stakes again, and it’s right on schedule.
“It means that we’ve made some progress,” said Shannon Felder, in his eighth season as Donoho’s coach. “For us, it’s going to be a couple of good years then a couple of years where we’re trying to have to kind of reload then a couple of good years and then a couple to reload.
“So, it’s kind of following a cycle.”
Felder is enjoying another period with experienced players. This after the Falcons struggled through a period where many of those same players learned the hard way.
It’s shown in the records. A veteran Donoho team finished the 2006 regular season unbeaten and went three rounds into the playoffs then went 8-2 with a first-round loss at Speake the next year.
The Falcons got real young, real fast and went a combined 1-19 over the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
But a late-season victory over Skyline in 2009 broke a long losing streak and planted a seed, and it grew with a victory over that same Skyline team in a spring jamboree.
This just as the current core group was coming of age.
In 2010, Donoho went 8-2 in the regular season with a first-round playoff loss at Lynn. A year later, the Falcons are 7-1 and can bring the playoffs back home with a victory tonight.
The home crowd is pumped at the possibility, say nothing of homecoming festivities.
“Everybody’s excited,” Felder said. “Everybody’s fully aware it’s a big game for us, and it’s a big game for them. They’re in the same situation.
“For us, being able to play here and have an opportunity to play a game of this magnitude at our place is going to be big for us.”
For veteran players who know something about Donoho’s cycles, being on the up cycle feels good. Earning the first home playoff game since 2006 would bring it full cycle.
“It would be a great thing, because 2006 was the best season that Donoho has ever had,” senior lineman Matthew Overton said. “I think this team has worked hard enough to get there, and getting to host a playoff game would be a great honor to the team.”
Overton was in seventh grade at Donoho in 2006.
“It was a great team, and it was a fun time,” he said. “There was a lot of energy around the stadium, and it’s a lot of the same feel now that it was then.”
Senior Teddre Williams transferred to Donoho before his junior year, but he’s heard a lot about the 2006 team and what it would mean to accomplish the first home playoff game since then.
“That’s the dream that we’ve been trying to live up to is to be just like them,” said Williams, Donoho’s total offense leader with 979 total yards (687 rushing, 292 passing). “I wasn’t around, but we’ve been around a lot of ’06 guys, and they’ve been here. We’ve had a coach from ’06 (Brandon Dunn) who comes out here and preaches to us that we can do it.
“And we want to live up to our own expectations of hosting a playoff game and going deep into the playoffs this year.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.