Falci shows poise in Weston's huddle
Joey Falci made his presence felt in many ways in the huddle. A senior quad-captain quarterback for the Weston football team, he was deft in running the option, which made him a dangerous player because of his ability to scramble and pass.
This combination, coupled with his strong leadership, enabled him to guide Weston to a 6-4 record, its best season since 2002 when current Indianapolis Colt Jamey Richard was a senior captain.
"Joey is very competitive, no matter who he faces and he never shies away from a challenge," Trojans Coach Joe Lato says. "As good he is on the field, he's better in the weight room. Pound for pound, he's one of the strongest players on the team. He just found a way to do things. He made the offense go. He reads the option the best since we started running the option [in 2006 or 2007]. He has a very good handle on his reads."
Junior year, Falci threw for 202 yards and a touchdown in his first career start, which came against vaunted Masuk despite being knocked down a lot by Masuk's defense. He also started against Bunnell and Bethel and came in relief and almost pulled out a victory against Brookfield in 2009.
"We had a big shot against them and Joey was the reason why," Lato recalled. "We were confident going into the year with Joey at quarterback."
And Falci was determined to come in as an improved quarterback after sharing the duties with then-senior Robbie Cordisco last year. He attended Travis Meyer's Five-Star Quarterback camp in the offseason to work on his game and he credits Meyer for changing his throwing motion.
"He [Meyer] helped me go over the top with my footwork and made sure my body was in line with my feet while throwing the ball," lauds Falci.
Unfortunately for Falci, luck wasn't on his side in the offseason. He first injured his right knee and followed up by injuring his left wrist. These two injuries sidelined him and he didn't get on the field until the midway point of the season.
"It was tough," Falci recalled. "Watching us win wasn't as tough as watching them lose to Brookfield."
Lato says, "It hurt to see him on the sidelines because he worked so hard in the offseason."
Once Falci was back from the injuries, Weston improved on offense and became a multi-dimensional team. When he was out, the offense was almost entirely centered on senior quad-captain and tailback Eddie Hutchins.
In his five games behind center, he was 32-55 throwing the ball (58 percent) for 423 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions while achieving a 78 quarterback rating. Falci also had 55 carries for 375 yards (6.82 yards per carry average) and five touchdowns. What makes him successful in clutch situations is his ability to maintain his poise in the pocket.
"I took it one play at a time and I treat the next play like it's a new play," Falci says. "A lot of pressure was on Eddie and I tried to take the pressure off of him. I don't like to get hot headed and I believe in forgetting about the previous play and going on to the next one."
This poise enabled Falci to develop into an accurate passer who is adept at finding his receivers.
"A lot of our plays come from play action, which leaves the middle open," Falci says. "The safeties bit on these plays, which gives me a wider window to throw in. A lot comes from the offseason, where I learned to catch it [the snap] and take [only] one step back before I throw it [instead of doing a three-step drop], which helped me improve my game from last year."
The ability to scramble and break tackles makes Falci a lethal runner.
"A lot happens over the field," Falci says. "My vision improved and I see where to run. Once I get to the linebacker level, the line opens up the holes and my vision to get to the safety is better this year than last year."
If the defender got near him, Falci found ways to juke past him and leave him in the dust.
"I'm not the fastest kid, so I try to make one cut," Falci says. "I hope to outmuscle him or get outside of him. I was more aggressive this year than last year. I hate going out of bounds and I fought hard for the extra two to three yards."
His presence against Oxford enabled the Trojans to score 43 points and win a shootout, 43-35. Falci was 4-6 throwing for 96 yards and rushed for 77 yards on 14 carries, but his ability to make his teammates better enabled Weston to keep up with and ultimately, overtake the Wolverines.
"We kept surviving and converted on third and fourth down," Falci recalled.
Freshman year, Falci wanted to be a wide receiver but was inserted at quarterback. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him as he got acclimated to his new position.
"In our offense, the quarterback is more like a running back," Falci says. "The quarterback runs with the ball a lot in the option and is able to hold onto it [before deciding whether to] run it or pass it."
Defensively, he was a starting cornerback junior and senior year. Sophomore year, he was a varsity backup cornerback. Falci had 28 tackles, an interception and broke up a pass this year.
"Toward the end of the year, I learned how to watch the eyes of the receiver and the shoulders of the quarterback," Falci says. "We played a lot of screen teams with outside runners and I just tried to stick them with a good tackle or force them inside so the rest of the team can get to them."
Despite making a huge difference for the Trojans, he didn't receive any honors from the SWC.
"My goals were a lot higher when I came into the season and I knew my injuries would affect my chances," Falci says. "I did what I could. I'm not disappointed because we had a great year, won the Patriot Division and almost made states."
Lato says, "I wish he got an award but at least when he looks back on his career, he can see he made a difference. We had our first winning season in eight years, won the Barlow trophy and the Patriot Division."
Life on the gridiron began for him at age 8. His father, Joe III, got him into it. The younger Falci liked watching football on TV and just like his father, became a San Diego Charger fan.
He began playing lacrosse in fifth grade and plays it for the Trojans in spring. Falci also played basketball his whole life but didn't try out freshman year because of a knee injury.
Leadership is a strength of his as he served as captain. Falci mostly led by example through his work ethic and poise.
"Our entire senior class had a big say on what went on," Lato says. "Being the one the team looked up to pushed me to go a lot harder. Even when I was hurt, I had to contribute in some way."
Academically, he excelled in the classroom and was on the SWC Academic All-Conference team. Math is his favorite subject.
"Football is at a certain time and when I get home, I can't fool around and I have to study," Falci says.
Next year, he will attend college. If Falci attends his first choice, the University of Pittsburgh, he won't be playing varsity but may try club. He hopes to stay involved in football at some capacity. However, if he attends a Division III school, one can be confident he'll try out for the team.
Lato is confident Falci could excel at a Division III institution.
"He's a special kid and there's no word to validate what Joey meant to us," Lato says.