Even at this point of the 21st century, when Jensine Falu-Montes says that she is a high school running back, it can raise doubts.
The Webster Schroeder varsity football team roster has Falu-Montes listed at 5-feet-1 and 121 pounds, and this is a game where bodies are folded, rammed and slammed just about every play.
There are no Pop Warner, Vince Lombardi or any other youth football seasons in Falu-Montes’ background. And when Falu-Montes was one of two girls who approached Webster Schroeder coach Kali Watkins about joining the team around May, she was a junior who had transferred into the school district.
“After a day of practice the other girl kind of faded away,” Watkins said. “And Jensine, as hard as those practices were, kept coming back.”
You could count Watkins and some of the team members among the skeptics back then, but they were among those who jumped the highest off of the turf Tuesday night at Webster Schroeder when Falu-Montes scored a touchdown during a regular season game.
The 17-year old is believed to be the first girl to score a touchdown in the history of Section V varsity football, according to chairman Dick Cerone. Autumn Stevens scored a junior varsity touchdown for Gates Chili in 2007 and played varsity for the Spartans in ’08 and ’09 but did not reach the end zone.
Falu-Montes took a handoff with two hands at the Wilson 3-yard line late in the fourth quarter, followed linemen teammates who shoved their way downfield and spun through a hole and into the end zone.
“I think it was one of my greatest moments in all of the sports that I’ve done,” Falu-Montes said. “I was really excited to get that first touchdown of the season, and getting one at all.
“And for my first varsity touchdown, I think is amazing.”
Falu-Montes is one of the reserve Webster Schroeder running backs. She was sent in with the Warriors headed to a 49-8 win over Wilson, and carried the ball on two of the three plays before her three-yard touchdown run.
“She won their respect after they saw that she did everything that they were,” Watkins said. “We actually set up the (touchdown) two plays before.
“I said ‘Listen, we’ve got to get a first down so we can try to get Jensine into the end zone, and the line was fighting over which side she would go over.”
Falu-Montes joins former Dundee kicker Katie Zebrowski as girls in the Section V football record book. Zebrowski kicked 10 extra points in a 2009 sectional playoff game.
“It’s been very exciting and fun,” Jimmy Falu, Falu-Montes’ father, said. “We had no idea that she was the first female ever to score a varsity touchdown in Section V. We were not expecting all of this commotion that is going on.”
Falu-Montes, who runs outdoor track in the spring and hopes to make Schroeder’s cheerleading team this winter, did not start playing football until two years ago after a friend challenged her saying that she wouldn’t last two weeks in football gear.
She has done much more than that.
“I have a friend and her little sister said that I inspired her to actually play football,” Falu-Montes said. “She’s playing football this year, and I can’t wait to see her play.”
Falu-Montes played on the East Rochester/Gananda junior varsity last season — scoring two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion — before her family moved from Gananda into the Webster school district in January.
Her older brother, Chris, 18, rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns for East Rochester/Gananda and was named the MVP of the Section V Class B championship game last fall.
Younger brother Dominic, 15, is a sophomore on the Schroeder junior varsity team. He also wears the uniform No. 1. Falu said he gets nervous watching all of his children play football, but his wife, Tina Montes, does not.
“I’m used to my boys playing and how much they enjoy football,” Montes said. “The same things I see with the boys playing, I see with her. I want her to be able to go out and do the things that she wants to accomplish.”
Both of her parents said Jensine has endured adversity because of her size and gender, but she has not let that affect her desire to play football. She has played in three of Webster Schroeder’s four games this season.
“I wasn’t sure if she was going to follow through with it,” Webster Schroeder lineman Nick Videtti said. “It was something that I never heard of.
‘I was really surprised with how hard she worked. I’ve seen how hard she’s worked the last few months.”
Tina Montes said that loves her daughter’s positive attitude and determination.
“The more people that direct negativity toward her, the more she wants to prove them wrong and kick butt,” her mother said.
“I was really happy on the day she came out of school with the playbook and uniform,” her father said, noting that he wasn’t sure what to expect moving into a larger school district. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is for real.’ “
Just as her touchdown was on Tuesday night.
“I never would have dreamed of doing this,” Falu-Montes said about playing football. “I’ve always wanted to play, but actually doing it is just amazing, and having everyone’s full support — from my team, my family and people in my school.
“A lot of people were worried about me playing, they thought I was going to get hurt, but everyone has the possibility of getting hurt. I like to prove that I can do it.”