3A football’s finest: Truckee shuts out Moapa Valley to win state championship
Sierra Sun sports editor
LAS VEGAS (Nov. 20) ” Even after studying seven Truckee game films, Moapa Valley head coach Brent Lewis and his Pirates football team were shocked when they met the Wolverines head-to-head in the 3A state football championship game.
“They really caught us off guard with how quickly they got to the line of scrimmage and got the ball off,” said Lewis, who witnessed the Wolverines win their 10th straight game ” a 28-0 shutout over Moapa Valley ” at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday night. “On defense, they were a lot more physical than I expected. They took the game to us, and we didn’t have an answer for it.”
The two teams came in with similar backgrounds, each with only one loss and a succession of blowout wins. In this respect, Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer was surprised by the outcome, too.
“I never dreamt that would happen,” he said. “I expected this to be a three-point game that would come down to a field goal of some sort.”
Senior quarterback Paul Tierney and fellow senior Jamie Maehler led Truckee’s quick-strike, no-huddle offense, putting the finishing touches on their brilliant high school careers by connecting on two touchdown passes before seven minutes had run off the clock.
The first ” a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone on fourth-and-6 from Moapa Valley’s 8-yard line ” capped a 16-play, 80-yard jaunt on the Wolverines’ opening drive. The drive, aided by two Moapa encroachment penalties, burned up five minutes on the clock.
“At the start of the ballgame, they came in ready to play,” Lewis said. “I think we were on our heels; they were a lot quicker than we anticipated.”
Moapa (11-2) had Truckee (10-1) in a third-and-five situation to start the drive, but Moapa’s first encroachment penalty gave Truckee a first down. Truckee pushed the ball up the field and moved the chains on a series of efficient gains ” the longest an 11-yard pass from Tierney to tight end Kevin Embertson.
After Nick Cabral’s 8-yard run gave Truckee a second-and-2 from Moapa’s 4-yard-line, the Pirates defense stiffened, pushing Cabral back on consecutive runs to the 8. On fourth down, Tierney dropped back and lofted a ball in the right corner of the end zone. Maehler back-pedaled and fought off Moapa cornerback Ryan Leavitt for the touchdown.
Benji Islas, who made all four extra-point attempts in the game, gave Truckee a 7-0 lead with exactly 7 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Zach Davis, Moapa’s go-to guy all year, took a handoff from teammate Tyler Bailey and returned it 33 yards out to the 35.
After a false start backed Moapa up, heavy pressure caused Moapa quarterback Jeff Bowler to throw an incomplete pass on second-and-15. On third down, Truckee’s Tom Kokenge sacked Bowler for a 10-yard loss, and Moapa was forced to punt it away. Michael Davis’ punt went 36 yards, setting up Truckee on its own 44.
On the first play, Tierney and Maehler struck again, as Maehler beat cornerback Zach Davis down the left sideline for a 56-yard touchdown pass. Tierney hit Maehler in stride at the 25-yard-line and Maehler outran Davis, lunging into the end zone at the last second to give Truckee a two-touchdown advantage.
“We set them up to go deep,” Tierney said. “I was looking (Maehler) off for a little while, and that’s why the corner came up. I saw that the corner’s back was facing me and Maehler was behind him and I was thinking, ‘He’s not going to catch him.’ Maehler did a great job of getting to the end zone.”
“They were trying to get some pressure on Paul, which opened up a couple things, and that’s where we hit Jamie on an out-and-up on that second touchdown,” Shaffer said. “We kept everybody in but two receivers, and they didn’t cover them.”
Shaffer noticed a difference in momentum after the early scores.
“It was like someone turned a light on,” he said. “From that point on, we were a whole different team. Our defense came out and shut them down. Our defensive coaching staff has done a great job this year.”
Truckee’s defense, which did not give up a single point during three wins in the 3A playoffs, fed on the momentum established by the early scores to pummel Moapa Valley’s offense and contain the Pirates’ most lethal offensive weapon: Senior wingback Zach Davis.
“Coming into the game, we knew they had some really good athletes,” said Truckee senior safety Randon Nunez. “No. 25 (Davis) was the key, and we shut him down. I give it all up to the coaching staff. They put together great game plans week-in, week-out. We just execute them.”
Did they ever.
Moapa’s first four possessions resulted in punts, the fifth ended with a missed 45-yard field goal, and John Hooper picked off a pass by Bowler late in the second quarter. The Pirates amassed just 72 total yards in the first half. Davis had 60 yards receiving in the half and finished with 10 catches for 128 yards, but the absence of a viable running game made it impossible for Moapa Valley to sustain a long drive.
“We figured we could run the ball, and we couldn’t,” Lewis said. “It really made us one-dimensional. If we could have maintained some drives with the running game, it would have kept them more honest. After they had set the tone and got up on us, they could just sit back and react and make plays.”
Bowler threw for 199 yards, but he also threw one interception in each half. Statistically, Zach Davis had a good game receiving, but much like Truckee, Moapa’s success this season was built on a balanced attack. Moapa finished with just 33 yards rushing. Junior Michael Davis, Zach’s younger brother, had three catches for 39 yards.
Moapa’s best chance to score came in a scoreless second quarter. Moapa linebacker Gyver Wimberly capitalized on one of Tierney’s rare poorly-thrown balls, and the interception gave Moapa Valley the ball on the Truckee 45. Michael Davis caught a 16-yard pass to get Moapa closer, but the Wolverines held, forcing Zach Davis to attempt a 45-yard field goal that fell substantially short. Islas also missed wide left on a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter.
Truckee scored on its first drive of the second half to seal the school’s seventh state championship. Starting at its own 9 after a seven-yard kickoff return to open the second half, Moapa went three-and-out. A 26-yard punt gave Truckee the ball inside Moapa territory at the 45.
Following a short seven-yard toss to Maehler, Mike Lopez took a handoff and burst 24 yards. Four running plays later, Micah Carbajal found the end zone from one yard out.
On its next two possessions, Moapa turned the ball over ” the second a miraculous left-handed, diving interception by Truckee’s Robert Jones, the backup to Tierney at quarterback.
Following Jones’ interception, although it didn’t score, Truckee burned up the rest of the third quarter and some of the fourth with another 16-play drive. This time Truckee took it 78 yards before turning it over on downs when a Tierney-to-Maehler pass play fell incomplete from four yards out.
Later in the quarter, Truckee running back Ben Tonon scored a 1-yard touchdown to cap an 18-yard Wolverines’ drive after Moapa had turned the ball over on downs.
The win gave Truckee its fourth 3A state championship in the past nine seasons. It was Truckee’s first since 2001, when it beat Moapa 14-7 at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks.
Maehler caught eight passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, falling just short of 3,000 yards receiving for his three-year varsity career (Maehler is the NIAA career record-holder with 2,977 yards receiving). Tierney, who set the Greater Nevada single season passing yardage record with 2,450 last season, finished the biggest game of his life 15-of-24 for 156 tough yards, mostly to Maehler.
“They did a great job of covering us, but we just made some great calls in some key situations,” said Tierney, who was 138-of-194 (70 percent) for 2,086 yards this season with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions. “It’s just amazing. It’s a great feeling.”
The typically hard-hitting, hard-nosed Nunez, an integral part of a Truckee defense that got continually stronger as the season progressed, was overcome with emotion after the game.
“This is beyond words; a feeling I’ve never had before,” he said. “We have great chemistry, and we fly to the ball (on defense). We’re brothers out there, and we’ve been doing it since Pop Warner. It’s always been that way.”
It’s been that way for Shaffer since he took over the head coaching duties at Truckee in 1995. Since then, Truckee has won four 3A state championships. In his post-game wrap, Shaffer told his team how proud he was. Specifically, though, he attributed the success of the 2004 Wolverines to a devoted senior class.
“They had already bonded and developed that unity from having played last year,” he said. “They developed that camaraderie and the ability to vocally speak to each other and express their concerns when things were going well ” or not well. I was very excited about this team coming into this year.”
-Listen to Network1Sports’ Internet broadcast of the game:
-2004 Truckee varsity football results
Day Date Opponent Result All League
Fri. Sept. 3 at Hug L, 34-21 0-1 0-0
Fri. Sept. 17 at Sparks W, 52-0 1-1 1-0
Sat. Sept. 25 vs. Spring Creek W, 35-6 2-1 2-0
Sat. Oct. 2 vs. Damonte Ranch W, 40-6 3-1 2-0
Fri. Oct. 8 at Fernley W, 47-0 4-1 3-0
Sat. Oct. 16 vs. Dayton W, 48-21 5-1 4-0
Fri. Oct. 22 at Lowry W, 48-22 6-1 5-0
Sat. Oct. 30 vs. North Tahoe W, 51-3 7-1 6-0
*Sat. Nov. 6 vs. North Tahoe W, 59-0 8-1
*Sat. Nov. 13 vs. Virgin Valley W, 42-0 9-1
#Sat. Nov. 20 vs. Moapa Valley W, 28-0 10-1
*Northern 3A playoff game
#3A state championship (Sam Boyd Stadium)
Senior QB Paul Tierney: 138/198 (70%), 2,086 yds., 24 TDs, 3 INTs
Senior RB Nick Cabral: 102 carries, 655 yds. (6.4), 13 rushing TDs
Junior FB Micah Carbajal: 88 carries, 652 yds. (7.4), 6 rushing TDs
Junior RB Mike Lopez: 60 carries, 378 yds. (6.3), 6 rushing TDs
Senior WB Jamie Maehler: 21 carries, 329 yds. (15.7), 6 rushing TDs
Junior RB Ben Tonon: 30 carries, 191 yds. (6.4), 6 rushing TDs
Senior WB Jamie Maehler: 48 rec., 782 yds. (16.3), 8 TDs
Junior WR Brandon Peterson: 25 rec., 374 yds. (14.96), 6 TDs
Senior WR Gordon Neelands: 22 rec., 319 yds. (14.5), TD
Senior RB Nick Cabral: 14 rec., 233 yds. (16.6), 3 TDs
Senior TE Kevin Embertson: 9 rec., 101 yds. (11.2), 3 TDs
Senior RB Nick Cabral: 16 TDs, 96 pts.
Senior WB Jamie Maehler: 14 TDs, 2-pt. con., 86 pts.
Senior DL/PK Benji Islas: 5 FGs, TD, 52 PATS, 73 pts.
-Moapa kickoff (Z. Davis) touchback
Own 20 Tierney hit by Jared Smith inc. pass (2-10)
Own 20 Carbajal 5 run (3-5)
Own 25 (Encroachment penalty) (1-10)
Own 30 Inc. pass to Maehler; deep out (2-10)
Own 30 Carbajal 6 run (3-4)
Own 36 Maehler 7 pass; short out (1-10)
Own 43 Shotgun-Peterson 4 pass (2-6)
Own 47 (Encroachment) (3-1)
MV 48 Cabral 5 pass (1-10)
MV 43 Lopez 5 run (2-5)
MV 38 (False start penalty) (2-10)
MV 43 Embertson 11 pass (1-10)
MV 31 Carbajal 5 run (2-5)
MV 26 Cabral 5 run (3-1)
MV 21 Peterson 9 pass (1-10)
MV 12 Cabral 8 run (2-2)
MV 4 Cabral -1 run (3-3)
MV 5 Cabral -3 run (4-6)
MV 8 Maehler 8 TD catch (leaps and catches ball while back-pedaling)
Islas kick good 7-0 **16-play, 80-yd. drive (5:00)
-Islas kickoff (Bailey handoff to Z. Davis; 33 return)
Own 35 Inc. pass over middle (Nunez big hit on Featherston) (2-10)
Own 35 (false start) (2-15)
Own 30 inc. pass-heavy Truckee pressure (3-15)
Own 30 Tom Kokenge sack (-10 loss) (4-25)
Own 20 M. Davis 36-yd. punt
-Own 44 Maehler 56 pass, (beats Z. Davis down left sideline)
Islas kick good, 14-0 **1-play, 56-yd. drive (:12)
-Islas kickoff (Bailey 20 return) 5:29
Own 25 T. Leavitt 1 run(face mask) (1-4)
Own 31 Solomon 4 run (1-10)
Own 35 Z. Davis 3 run (2-7)
Own 38 Nathan Wrenn sack (-1) (3-8)
Own 37 Featherston 8 pass short out (1-10)
Own 45 inc. to Z. Davis (2-10)
Own 45 Solomon no gain (D. Ballou nice open field tackle) (3-10)
Own 45 inc. to Z. Davis (Nunez deflects, Davis drops)
Own 45 M. Davis 36-yd. Punt (no return)
-Own 19 Cabral 9 run (tough yards) (2-1)
Own 28 M. Davis sack -6 (face mask) (2-4)
Own 25 Maehler 7 pass (hitch and run) (1-10)
Own 32 Carbajal 8 run (delay draw) (2-2)
Own 40 Lamping sack -1 (3-3)
Own 39 Cabral 1 run (4-2)
Own 40 Maehler punt 46 yds, (Davis from 24, 25 return; ill. block in back)
***End of 1st quarter 14-0
-Own 15 T. Bailey 1 run (2-9)
Own 16 inc. pass (3-9)
Own 16 Pass to T. Leavitt (pass interference on J. Williams) (1-10)
Own 30 T. Leavitt 4 run (2-6)
Own 34 Z. Davis -2 run (3-8)
Own 32 Bowler no gain (Steverman tackle) (4-8) 9:26
Own 32 M. Davis punt 18 yds.
-50 Carbajal 5 run (2-5)
MV 45 Cabral 12 run (1-10)
MV 33 inc. pass Cabral hit just as he catches ball) (2-10)
MV 33 Maehler 13 pass long out (1-10)
MV 20 Cabral -2 run (2-12)
MV 22 inc. pass to Peterson in end zone (3-12)
MV 22 Gary Weiss drops INT (inc.) would have been TD(4-12)
MV 22 Islas FG no good (39 yd) wide left, not a good kick
-Own 22 Z. Davis 25 pass on left sideline (1-10)
Own 47 T. Bailey 2 run (2-8)
Own 49 Z. Davis 9 pass short out (1-10)
T 42 Williams sack -9 (2-19)
Own 49 (false start) (2-24)
Own 44 Z. Davis 4 pass (3-20)
Own 48 Bailey no gain (4-20)
Own 48 M. Davis punt 29 yds. (Tonon from 23; -4 return)
-Own 18 Carbajal 5 run (2-5)
Own 23 Carbajal 7 run (1-10)
Own 30 Wimberly INT (Tierney overthrows)
-T 45 M. Davis 16 pass (wide open)
T 29 Bailey 1 run (2-9)
T 28 inc. to Z. Davis long pass on left sideline (3-9)
T 28 inc. pass (Nunez drops INT, would have been TD)
T 28 Z. Davis 45 FG no good (way short)
-Own 20 Carbajal 1 run (2-9)
Own 21 inc. pass (Jared Smith nearly picks it) (3-9)
Own 21 Cabral 4 run (4-5)
Own 25 Maehler punt 53 yds. (Bailey gets it on 22; no return)
-Own 22 Bailey 7 run (2-3)
Own 29 Z. Davis 16 pass, hitch and go (1-10)
Own 45 (false start) (1-15)
Own 40 Hooper INT (Bowler threw it up for grabs)
-Own 32 inc. pass overthrown (2-10)
Own 32 Tierney 4 run (3-6)
Own 36 Maehler -2 pass (face mask MV)
Own 39 inc. long pass to Peterson (Wimberly PD)
Own 39 Maehler punt 39 yds. (Bailey from 22, 15 return)
-Own 37 T. Leavitt 3 run
**End of half 14-0 Truckee lead
Passing: Tierney 10-19-1 119 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Maehler 6-88 2 TD
Rushing: Carbajal 9-44
Passing: Bowler 6-14-1 82 yds.
Receiving: Z. Davis 4-60
M. Davis 1-15
Rushing: Bailey 5-10
T. Leavitt 2-7
Z. Davis 1(-2)
Total yards: Truckee 202, MV 72
-Islas kickoff (Bailey 7 return)
Own 9 Weiss 6 pass (2-4)
Own 15 Bailey 1 run (3-3)
Own 17 Solomon 2 run (4-1)
Own 19 M. Davis 26-yd. punt (no return)
-MV 45 Maehler 7 pass (2-3)
MV 38 Lopez 24 run (1-10)
MV 14 Cabral -1 run (2-11)
MV 15 Cabral 7 run (3-4)
MV 8 Lopez 7 run (1-G)
MV 1 (encroachment) (1-G)
MV 1 Carbajal 1 TD run
Islas kick good 21-0 **6-play, 45-yd. drive (2:17)
Own 20 Z. Davis 27 pass; long out (1-10)
Own 47 Z. Davis 8 pass; fumble”Truckee recovers
-Own 47 inc. pass (2-10)
Own 47 Lopez 9 run (3-1)
MV 46 Cabral 5 run (1-10)
MV 41 Carbajal 17 run (1-10)
MV 24 Maehler no gain; double handoff (2-10)
MV 24 Cabral 1 run (3-9)
MV 23 Tierney 2 run (4-7)
MV 21 inc. pass to Neelands in end zone
-Own 21 Solomon -2 pass (2-12)
Own 19 R. Leavitt 10 pass (3-1)
Own 29 Solomon 5 run (1-10)
Own 34 inc. pass (pass interference penalty) (1-10)
Own 49 inc. pass to Wimberly (2-10)
Own 49 R. Leavitt 7 pass (3-3)
T 46 Robert Jones left-handed diving INT
-Own 18 Carbajal 7 run (2-3)
Own 25 Fumble on snap (3-4)
Own 24 Lopez 8 run (1-10)
Own 32 Cabral 6 run (2-4)
**End of 3rd quarter 21-0 Truckee
-Own 38 Carbajal 8 run (1-10)
Own 46 Carbajal 11 run (1-10)
MV 43 Lopez 5 run (2-5)
MV 38 (penalty) (1-10)
MV 30 inc. to Maehler (2-10)
MV 30 Lopez no gain (3-10)
MV 30 Maehler 13 pass (bobbled, but caught; out) (1-10)
MV 17 double handoff Maehler 7 run (2-3)
MV 10 Tonon 5 run (1-G)
MV 5 Carbajal 2 run (2-G)
MV 3 Lopez -2 run (3-G)
MV 5 Tonon 1 run (4-G)
MV 4 inc. pass to Maehler
-Own 4 inc. pass (2-10)
Own 4 Z. Davis 8 pass (3-2)
Own 12 Z. Davis 4 pass (1-10)
Own 16 M. Davis 9 pass (2-1)
Own 25 (int. grounding) (3-16)
Own 10 Wimberly 8 pass (4-8)
Own 18 inc. pass (turnover on downs)
-MV 18 Carbajal 3 run (2-7)
MV 15 Tonon 9 run (1-10)
MV 6 Cabral 5 run (2-G)
MV 1 Tonon 1 TD run
Islas kick good 28-0 **4-play, 18-yd. drive
-Islas kickoff (penalty MV)
Own 8 Solomon 9 run (2-1)
Own 17 R. Leavitt 1 pass (personal foul penalty Truckee) (1-10)
Own 34 Bowler 11 run (1-10)
Own 45 M. Davis 15 pass (1-10)
T40 inc. pass (2-10)
T40 Solomon 4 run (3-6)
T36 inc. pass (4-6)
T36 Z. Davis 5 pass (turnover on downs)
-Own 31 Krasensky -3 run (2-13)
Own 28 Fuller 2 run
*End of game Truckee wins 28-0
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