Truckee football: Wolverines set to host semifinal showdown Saturday against Virgin Valley | SierraSun.com

Truckee football: Wolverines set to host semifinal showdown Saturday against Virgin Valley

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE ” Kirk Hafen said as long as he’s been head coach of the Virgin Valley football team ” the past 18 years ” the Bulldogs have “prided (themselves) on being physical.”

Bob Shaffer said he’s coached “a lot of very physical teams” in his 13-year tenure at Truckee, and every new wave of players is eager to prove it’s as hard-nosed as the last ” including this one.

“I think a lot of kids feel they get measured by the expectations of guys who’ve already played here,” Shaffer said last week after his Wolverines beat down Sparks 57-0 in their playoff opener.

Each coach validated the other’s claim. They know from past clashes deep into the postseason.

“We’ve had some pretty good rounds with Truckee over the years,” Hafen said. “We’ve played for State a few times.”

Shaffer recalls six postseason battles with the Bulldogs. He thinks Truckee is 4-2 in those contests.

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On Saturday at 1 p.m. the Northern and Southern foes meet again for the first time since the 2005 state championship in a semifinal showdown at Surprise Stadium. Shaffer and Hafen are predicting a low-scoring slugfest.

“I think it will be a defensive game. I know Truckee is very strong defensively,” said Hafen, whose Bulldogs fell 37-14 to the Wolverines in the 2005 title game.

Virgin Valley, the No. 2 seed out of the South at 3-1 in league and 9-2 overall, has held opponents to 16.6 points a game this season. Truckee, meanwhile, the North’s No. 1 seed at 7-0 and 8-2, has allowed 12.3 points per contest.

But while both defenses have imposed their will on the field this season, both offenses have proven just as impressive, averaging a near identical 36 points a game. Truckee has outscored its opposition 330-111 in nine games ” not counting a forfeit win over Yerington ” and Virgin Valley has outscored opponents 399-183 in 11 games.

“They’re a pretty well-balanced team,” Shaffer said of the Bulldogs, who are coming off a 39-20 playoff win over third-seeded Boulder City. “You can’t go into the game saying, ‘We’re going to stop the run or we’re going to stop the pass.’ You’ve got to find a way to do both.”

Hafen, who said his Virgin Valley team is smaller across the board but quicker overall than last year’s group ” which defeated Fernley 35-34 in its semifinal before losing to Moapa Valley 35-14 for the state title ” downplayed the Bulldogs’ offensive prowess.

“It’s nice when your defense gets the ball for you and gives you a short field,” he said, adding that he also scheduled a number of nonleague games against “smaller” schools relatively close to Mesquite.

Senior Terran Leavitt leads the Bulldogs at quarterback, while Jonathan Gleave stands out as their top receiver, Hafen said. Third-year starter Colton Teerlink has carried the load running the ball, rushing for “1,100 or 1,200 yards,” the coach said.

Truckee quarterback Justin Vosburgh said he and the Wolverines will not be taking the Bulldogs lightly, especially after losing in the first round of the postseason the past two years.

“Obviously we know we have a hard team to face,” Vosburgh said after last week’s rout. “We just have to prepare as hard as we can all week. But we’re excited. We’re excited to get past the first round for the first time in two years.”