Lopez, Castaneda pick up first tackles of season for Bandits

Special to the Sun
Submmitted PhotoTruckee's D prepares for a play.

The Truckee fans may have had to wait all season for it, but it finally came on the first play of the fourth quarter in last Saturday’s 35-0 loss to the Hug Hawks during a Sierra Youth Football League game. Defensive tackle Damien Lopez got his first tackle of the year during the home game at River View Sports Park.

Lopez may have the most potential for growth on the Bandits team made up of 5- to 7-year-olds, but he showed he is fully developed in heart and strength on his solo tackle. The Hug running back took the ball at full speed straight up the middle and suddenly collapsed to the ground with a ball of red jersey wrapped around his legs. Lopez shed off his block, moved into the running lane and took the runner down for no gain on the play. The takedown drew a celebration on the Truckee sideline.

Not to be outdone, defensive tackle Luis Castaneda also got his first tackle of the year just five plays later. Castaneda joined the Wolverines late in the season and represented Truckee’s only X-man. An X-man is designated as a player 80 pounds or heavier and must wear an X on his helmet and start every play at the line of scrimmage, according to league rules.

Castaneda, Lopez and the rest of the Wolverines played their last game in typical Bandit fashion this season and played much better in the second half. The Hawks brought their highest-scoring offense in the league into Truckee and began quick work on the field before the Truckee defense solidified and gave up only 56 yards in the second half. Hug finished the day with 243 yards.

The Hawks scored with a 43- and 6-yard run on their first and third offensive play of the game. The Wolverines made the Hawks work harder for their two touchdown runs in the second quarter. The Hawks had to use five plays to break the goal line to go up 21-0. On their next offensive series, Truckee forced Hug back to the Hawks’ own 20-yard line facing a fourth down and 20 yards to go situation. The Hawks running back swept around the left side and went 80 yards for the score. The touchdown was the fourth of five touchdowns from the left side and was the longest touchdown given up by the Wolverines all year.

The Wolverines only allowed one last touchdown in the third quarter thanks to strong defensive play by defensive tackle Aidan Powers, defensive end Hutton Johnson and linebacker AJ Plechner.

Powers led the team with seven tackles, tying his personal best. Johnson tallied six tackles with half being solo tackles and one behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson ended the season as the Wolverines leading tackler with 48 tackles, 19 solo tackles and 14 behind the line of scrimmage. He also forced the most fumbles with three.

Plechner turned in a personal best game with four tackles with half being solo.

Defensive end Sean McMullen and defensive tackle Tavin Hamilton contributed four tackles each and both finished the season second on the team in tackles with 42.

Linebacker Jason Roth finished the game with three tackles, with two being solo and one behind the line of scrimmage. He finished the season third on the team with 38 tackles.

Linebackers Ronan Collins, Jake Solberg and Ezra Scharp all had one tackle in the game.

Offensively, the Wolverines were led by quarterback Tavin Hamilton who carried the ball nine times and often had to keep his legs driving with several defenders on him to gain 20 yards on the day. He finished the season as the Wolverines leading rusher with 152 yards and one touchdown.

Running back Hutton Johnson did not have any carries during the last game but finished the season second in rushing with 51 yards.

Running back Jason Roth gained 18 yards on just two carries. He finished the season third on the team with 28 yards rushing, tied with running back Holden Woodruff.

Woodruff was also the only other Wolverine besides Hamilton to score a touchdown earlier in the season.

Running back Ronan Collins had two carries for no gain and running back Ezra Scharp took his only carry of the season up the middle for a gain of two.

Hamilton also led the team with a three-yard kick return during the game, but Woodruff led the Wolverines on the season with 72 return yards.

The Wolverines finished the season 0-8 with two touchdowns scored, an improvement over last year’s one touchdown. The Bandits lose Hamilton, Hutton, Castaneda and Roth for next year as the group has to move up to the next age division.

and#8212; This article was submitted to Sports Editor Sylas Wright at

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