Truckee football preview: Wolverines seek three-peat
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; From the farthest reaches of rural Nevada, Truckee’s football foes can all observe the same potential vulnerability: This is not the same group that dominated the 3A landscape the past two years.
Truckee, which won 24 straight games en route to consecutive state titles in 2009 and 2010, is a shell of its former self in terms of returning starters.
The Wolverines lost to graduation eight first team All-State performers from a year ago, including MVP quarterback Ben Bolton and their Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker/fullback Morgan Nevin, among others.
Their absence is noticeable, said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer.
and#8220;It’s different when the Morgan Nevins and the Colin Christians aren’t around anymore, because they kind of made up that practice tempo and attitude. Those guys had a bit of nastiness, too, even at practice, and so we’re kind of missing some of that right now,and#8221; Shaffer said.
and#8220;We need some of our seniors to assume that responsibility and become those kinds of leaders, and we’re hoping that happens here pretty quickly.and#8221;
The coach said he’s confident the Wolverines will shape into form. After all, even last year’s experienced, senior-heavy team drew his ire often by committing mistakes early in the season.
But with a 24-game win streak on the line and a giant target square on their back, he hopes his players settle in to their starting roles and#8212; and heal from injuries, in many cases and#8212; sooner rather than later.
and#8220;We’ve got a ways to go. We’re showing our youth as far as experience and so forth,and#8221; Shaffer said. and#8220;But we like our senior class, and we like our group coming up from the JV team. We’ve just got to get those two groups to mesh and learn how to practice, and I think once they learn how to do that we’re going to be pretty good.and#8221;
Top returners include senior linebacker/fullback Cole Roberts, a third-year varsity player who was voted to the All-State first team at linebacker last year, as well as wingback/safety Trevor Auldridge. Would-be starting receiver Trent McMullen is not out for the team.
Senior Braden Waters, who as a junior filled in for an injured James DePew at tight end, and#8220;has emerged as one of the leaders,and#8221; Shaffer said, adding that seniors Sam Schroeder and Stein Retzlaff should help anchor Truckee’s undersized offensive and defensive lines.
and#8220;We’re going to be in that same situation again this year,and#8221; Shaffer said of having a relatively small line. and#8220;We’re probably going to be under 200 pounds average across the offensive and defensive lines. But we’re pretty strong, we feel.and#8221;
With the loss of Bolton and#8212; one of the top passers to ever put on a Truckee uniform and#8212; the Wolverines will look to senior Pat Shaffer to take over the quarterback position.
Shaffer, who’s listed at 6 foot and 170 pounds, played the second half of most games last year, after Truckee had built insurmountable leads. But he almost exclusively handed off as the Wolverines tried to eat away clock and not run up the score.
Erik Holmer, a 6-2, 170-pound junior, is the backup QB.
So far, backups have been in high demand as the Wolverines, who have 36 players total, have struggled with one injury after another in the opening weeks of practice.
Among the linemen, senior center Max Collinson is nursing a tweaked shoulder, Alex Malo will miss several weeks with a pulled hamstring, and Victor Nunez and David Brunham are both on the mend from injuries.
And that’s not all. Senior linebacker/running back Brooks Hudson is currently out with a knee injury, and junior running back/cornerback Tyler Griffin will miss the entire season with a torn meniscus, coach Shaffer said.
and#8220;It seems like we have a ton of guys who are injured right now. We’re mixing and shifting people all over the place,and#8221; Shaffer said.
As far as their Northern 3A league, which expanded last year to include former 4A members Elko, Fallon and South Tahoe, Shaffer said he expects to be challenged by at least five teams.
and#8220;Each team seems to have its own dynamic players,and#8221; the coach said, naming, in the order Truckee faces them, Elko, Spring Creek, Fernley, Fallon and Lowry. and#8220;They’re going to be teams that we have to play our A game against.and#8221;
Truckee players, despite the loss of so many key teammates from last year, are confident in their ability to three-peat, Shaffer said. And they’d like to do it in undefeated fashion again.
and#8220;One of the goals they set as a team is to, No. 1, be the first (Truckee) team to three-peat, but also to continue on that winning streak. How much pressure is on them? I don’t know. I think that will all kind of fall into place as the season progresses,and#8221; Shaffer said. and#8220;But I think for us right now, our main goal is just to get these guys ready to play in our league. We want to go 1-0, and then let the chips fall where they may.and#8221;
If this Truckee team were to fall short of its goal, it wouldn’t be for a lack of effort, the coach added.
and#8220;They’re willing. I will say that. These kids have worked as hard as any group we’ve had. So we’re pretty excited about that. You can go a long way with good work ethic.and#8221;