FLORENCE — Ahead of Saturday's 51-7 rout over the Jefferson Panthers, Florence Falcons head coach Pat Duchien sauntered ahead of his team as they were headed to the field before the game.
In Duchien's hands, a black flag emblazoned with "REMEMBER THE TASTE / 6-8," as a way to symbolize and commemorate their semi-final loss to the Fairfield Eagles in the 2020 playoffs. Before his players made their way to the field, Duchien turned to his team and raised the flag imploring them to "remember it," before planting the flag in the southwest corner of the field.
“Last year losing the semifinals, we've had a plan ever since then to come back and make it to the state championship. It's a surreal feeling,” said Florence wide receiver Blake Shoupe.
“6-8, that's like our Fairfield score. We have a motto, 'Remember the taste,' like what it felt like to lose that game and to make sure it doesn't happen again,” said Florence quarterback Patrick Duchien III.
The Falcons had little issue on Saturday ensuring they made it to the Class B state title game this coming Saturday behind a stellar offensive and defensive showing against the Jefferson Panthers. Now as Florence gets set to host the state title game and, in their eyes, hopefully hoist a state title on their home turf, it's safe to say that love and care play a big deal in the Falcon's approach to this season.
"I'll bet you this was a record attendance in Florence [Saturday]. There's so many parents involved, there's grandparents and these boys and the coaching staff and everybody that's just put all the work together," said Pat Duchien II. "You get teams like this — maybe that come around once every however long in a coach's career, right? And it's just — it's phenomenal to see the love. True love that these boys, and these coaches, and this community, and all of our supporters have actually shown this year. It is phenomenal."
Though the Falcons will play host to the Bigfork Vikings in a Western B showdown for the Class B title, the excitement ahead of the match-up had less to do with the actual game itself.
“Definitely the most exciting part that I'm looking forward to is practice," said Shoupe. "A lot of people overlook practice but this is our last week with our teammates — with our brothers so we've got to embrace the whole feeling.”
“Just to be able to have one last week of practice with this team. I think it's gonna be a lot of fun and be able to just go out and compete,” said Duchien III.
“Just this group kids. To be able to have them another week and be able to go on coach one more week. You know, and at the end of the day, you went as far as you could possibly go and you can, in essence, kind of relax at that point,” said Duchien II.
The Florence Falcons and the Bigfork Vikings will square off in Florence at Whalen Memorial Field to see who stands atop Class B at 1 p.m. on Saturday.