Football: TTHS looks to roll over opponents toward Nevada state title
Bob Shaffer finds himself in a curious position. For the first time in his 22-year tenure as Tahoe-Truckee High School varsity football coach, Shaffer has a sophomore as his starting quarterback. Having the offensive control in the hands of the relatively inexperienced 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Kevin Schlesinger might be risky for the Wolverines, but so far the risk has paid off. After a disappointing opening season loss at the hands of Las Plumas two weeks ago, the Wolverines, led by the right-armed Schlesinger and senior tri-captain Casey Nelson, rebounded by obliterating the reigning NIAA/U.S. Bank 3A champion Bishop Manogue in Reno on Saturday, 44-7. Nelson, a three-year starter at halfback, rushed six times for 187 yards with touchdown runs of 68 and 79 yards, and one reception for 95 yards and a touchdown. Shaffer was happy with Schlesinger’s improvement.
“He just needs the mental training and to learn how fast things happen,” Shaffer said.
With 28 varsity players (14 seniors, 12 juniors and two sophomores) and 36 junior varsity players, Shaffer has a decent-sized pool of talent to work with, but far from his largest. Jason Ames is the other sophomore playing on the varsity squad. Shaffer feels he will need all the firepower he can get, especially in light of the reorganization of 3A ball.
“With the realignment of the league, it’s going to be a real competitive situation. It might come down to the last two games with Lowry (home) and North Tahoe (away). Defending 3A state champion Manogue will be tough (despite Tahoe-Truckee’s recent romp, 44-7), but they graduated 22 seniors,” said Shaffer. “If we stay healthy, we like our chances. We have eight offensive starters returning and five starters back defensively. We only had seven seniors last year.”
Shaffer believes in northern Nevada the best competition will be from Spring Creek, Manogue, North Tahoe and former 4A resident Lowry. North Tahoe has 18 seniors and this may be their best chance in years to go deep into playoffs. Dayton at 5-4 is coming off its first winning season in awhile.
“We have to prepare as if any team can beat us,” Shaffer said. “We can get bumped by any team. We usually have three or four non-league games to start the season, to warm up for league play, but with the realignment and eight other teams in our division, we only have one non-league game. We can’t wait until the fifth game of the season to get going.”
Alongside Nelson at the captain spots and anchoring the offensive and defensive lines are Robert Acevedo, another three-year starter playing at defensive tackle and offensive guard, and two-year starter Jacob McCauley at offensive tackle and defensive tackle. Certainly, this is where Shaffer believes his early season advantages dwell – in Nelson and the offensive line – with all of his line back from last year except one player.
“The line will help Casey out so he won’t have to carry the team himself,” said Shaffer, adding that with some game experience, he is confident that Schlesinger and the passing attack will come along.
Nelson’s strengths lie in his quickness and a good first step. With a true 4.6-second, 40-yard dash, Nelson can run in the open field, but he also has the ability to catch; so Shaffer can use him in the slot formation or in motion.
The main backbone of the offense is a wing T; but with possible variations, it’s a true multiple set offense.
“Sometimes we’ll go with no running back, sometimes we’ll be out of the shotgun,” said Shaffer.
While the offense is strong, it appears that the Wolverines may be rebuilding the defense this year. Even though Tahoe-Truckee held Manogue to only seven points, Shaffer saw a need to improve the team’s rushing defense. The defense works out of a four-man front. The Wolverines have a young secondary anchored by David Larson, who went to free safety from cornerback as a sophomore.
9/16 Spring Creek 1:30 p.m.
9/29 Dayton 7:30 p.m.
10/7 Fernley 1:30 p.m.
10/14 Yerington 1:30 p.m.
10/21 ROP 1:30 p.m.
10/28 Lowry 1:30 p.m.
11/4 North Tahoe 1:30 p.m.
11/18 State Championships
* home games in red
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A pair of Canadians swept the Spartan North American Championship this morning at Olympic Valley.