Former Lowry star Connors to lead Fallon football program

Lowry grad Calvin Connors, who competed against Fallon a decade ago, has been named the Greenwave’s head football coach.

Lowry grad Calvin Connors, who competed against Fallon a decade ago, has been named the Greenwave’s head football coach.

The last time Calvin Connors stepped on the gridiron in Fallon, he led a Buckaroos’ fourth-quarter rally to stun the Greenwave and capture the league title.

Ten years later, he’ll be back on that same field.

Instead of donning the blue and gold, he’ll be pacing the sidelines in green and white. Connors was named head coach of the Greenwave football program after Brooke Hill announced his retirement from coaching last fall.

“I’m very thrilled to be in a rural community and continue that type of mentality in a community like Fallon. It’s a football town and I’m a football guy,” Connors said. “You couldn’t have drawn it up better. The kids in Fallon are absolutely amazing athletes. What I’ve found is that they’re incredible people. You want them to be gentlemen first and foremost.”

Connors’ comments echo Hill’s reflection after he concluded a 15-year career at the helm of the Greenwave, which included a pair of state championships in four appearances to go with a school-record 117 wins. 

Although the Buckaroos fell short of capturing a state football championship during Connors’ career, he said he wouldn’t have had the success on the field or court without his coaches and teachers, including Taua Cabatbat, John Brooks, Vince Mendiola and Chad Peters.

“It was countless hours on the field and in the weight room from when I was 14 to 22 years old with Jace Billingsley and Taua that allowed me to understand that hard work pays off,” Connors added. “(Vince and Chad) allowed me to understand the value of tradition and culture. Although I didn’t wrestle, (John) is the type of high school teacher and coach I hope to become when my clock runs out.”

Coaching also runs in the family with his father, Tim, who coached him in middle school, and uncle, Tom McMahon, who is the special teams coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Tim Connors played at Carroll College under Bob Petrino Sr., coached high school football in Montana and Utah before moving to Winnemucca with Chris Ward, who played at Carroll with Connors. Ward coached Fernley to the state football title over Fallon in 2019.

“Seeing him succeed starting his career at Bozeman High School to being a grad assistant and coach at Utah State to winning an Orange Bowl with Louisville under Bobby Petrino and now being successful in the NFL, his story has always given me the ability to dream and strive to chase after anything I set my mind to no matter what others say,” Connors said of his uncle.

Connors is no stranger to coaching after he assisted Don Schank’s Oasis Academy boys basketball team two years ago when he and his wife, Ali, daughter of Mayor Ken Tedford, moved to Fallon. 

Before then, he assisted at Lowry and Eastern Oregon University where he played college football.

“When moving here, I truly didn’t know necessarily if I wanted to continue coaching or dive into a career path with teaching and administration,” said Connors, who has a master’s in teaching with an endorsement in K-12 physical education and is applying to work at the high school. “Throughout the past two years, I have taken time to reflect on what’s important to me and try to become the best person.”

This current school year, though, Connors stepped back from sports completely for the first time since he stepped onto the football field to assess what the next chapter in his life would look like. He visited his father’s alma mater, Carroll College in Helena, Mont., the same weekend Fallon lost to Elko in the playoffs, tuning into the Greenwave’s final game when they lost on a last-second field goal. 

The next day, Connors and his parents, Tim and Debbie, watched the Saints not long after Tim gave a pregame speech to the football team.

When he returned, he applied to become the next head coach.

“I just had to figure out myself and who I was without the ball,” he said. “(The trip) made me realize football is family. My greatest memories have been on the football field.”

With the first game five months away, Connors met with several of the returning players and discussed his three pillars for the program: authenticity, optimism and being yourself.

“That’s the foundation and core of how this program will be run, but it’s a foundation for life,” he said of the pillars. “You’re going to be a human being a lot longer than a football player. If you are not a nice person, those accolades are not going to mean anything.”

He acknowledged that he wants to continue building on Hill’s foundation and culture, setting the bar at winning state championships.

“After the players’ meeting, I had players introduce themselves and take their hats off,” Connors said. “I’m elated and so thrilled to be here and continue the game I love and create memories with these boys and try to create a brotherhood and bonds I saw my dad have with his teammates at Carroll College and what I had at Eastern Oregon University.”

Before deciding to take over the Fallon program, Connors and Lowry were tough to stop on Friday nights.

During his senior year, Connors was named the region’s Player of the Year after tallying more than 1,000 yards on the ground and in the air. 

The Buckaroos lost to Faith Lutheran, now a 4A school, in the state semifinals after Lowry fell short in that same round the previous two seasons.

His success continued in college when he played for Eastern Oregon from 2014-17 and still holds several school records at the NAIA school in La Grande.

His 386 all-purpose yards against Montana State-Northern in 2015 stands as the school record and his 1,522 total yards during the 2015 season ranks seventh all-time.

Connors also holds the school record for punt return yards in a season with 316 in 2015 and he finished fifth in kick return yards with 565. He ranks in the top-five all-time for all-purpose yards, receptions, reception yards and touchdown receptions.