Playoff football: Second week in a row, Truckee handles North Tahoe
Sierra Sun sports editor
TRUCKEE (Nov. 6) ” The Truckee Wolverines took care of North Tahoe for the second week in a row at Surprise Stadium, winning 59-0 to advance to the 3A state semifinals.
Truckee will host Virgin Valley ” which beat Boulder City 20-16 ” at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal matchup. The Bulldogs ended Truckee’s season last year with a 28-21 victory in the state semifinals. The difference this time around is that Virgin Valley will travel to Truckee.
“They were predominantly a senior group last year,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer, looking ahead to his next opponent. “I don’t know too much about them other than what we’ve read, so it will be interesting to see them on film.”
(See complete 3A playoff results below).
Before two minutes had run off the clock against North Tahoe, Truckee was ahead 14-0. North Tahoe fumbled the snap on its very first play from scrimmage, setting up a 3-play, 20-yard drive that ended with Nick Cabral’s 6-yard touchdown run.
“We had some bad field position in some defensive situations, but our kids played hard, and we’re proud of them,” said North Tahoe head coach Scott Everist after the game. “Truckee is a good football team.”
Truckee has been good this year, winning its last eight games decisively, but jumping ahead of the Lakers wasn’t as much a matter of strategy or talent as it was North Tahoe giving the ball away on its own account.
On its third play from scrimmage, the Lakers fumbled a handoff exchange, and Truckee defensive lineman Benji Islas scooped up the loose ball and returned it 15 yards for the score. After that, though, North Tahoe’s defense held Truckee scoreless for more than a quarter and forced the Wolverines’ explosive offense to punt on three consecutive drives.
“It seemed like when we scored those two quick ones, we went a little flat,” Shaffer said. “I don’t know if they thought North Tahoe was just going to go home at that point, or what. But my hat’s off to North Tahoe; they didn’t just roll over.”
The game became a battle of field position between Truckee punter Jamie Maehler and North Tahoe punter Michael Brown. The teams traded punts on the next three possessions, but Maehler’s third punt ” a 60-yarder ” pinned North Tahoe at its own 14-yard-line. A four-yard loss on an option play followed by a false start backed the Lakers to their own 5. After Randy Jansen rushed for no gain, the Lakers were in a fourth-and-19 hole.
Brown, who had averaged nearly 40 yards per punt up to that point, got under a 20-yarder that rolled out of bounds and set up the Truckee offense nicely again. Three running plays later, Cabral was in the end zone for his second score.
Islas set up Truckee’s fourth score of the day when he sacked Brown ” a sophomore quarterback who was called up to replace injured starter Gavin Lofstedt ” and forced a fumble that teammate Kyle Steverman recovered in the end zone.
Turnovers were the main reason for North Tahoe’s demise. The Lakers had three costly turnovers in the first half, and Truckee had none. Each team had two in the second half when the game was basically decided. In the two games versus Truckee, the Lakers turned the ball over 12 times.
Islas made a 25-yard field goal, nailed all eight of his PATs and had two sacks, but he was also a force on special teams.
“He had some good hits, even on that kickoff return where ” he’s not our safety ” but he made a great tackle on their sideline to keep the zero up there on the (score)board,” Shaffer said.
Lofstedt, the Lakers’ place kicker, punter and starting quarterback, suffered a foot injury in last week’s game versus Truckee. Everist praised Brown’s courageous effort after the game.
“He stepped in there as a sophomore, in his first varsity experience, and he had a lot of big gains,” said the second-year head coach. “He was stepping up in the pocket and throwing the ball. We’re looking forward to having him next year, that’s for sure.”
Brown rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries, but many negative yards were charged to Brown on sacks. Truckee had six sacks in all ” two by Joe Lipnosky, Daniel Ballou and Islas.
Truckee senior quarterback Paul Tierney looked out of character on Truckee’s muddy field. Tierney finished 6-of-11 for 64 yards, but he did not throw an interception.
“He was getting a lot of pressure early,” Shaffer said. “They came out and did a lot of things different than they did last week. There was one time where they blitzed nine guys. We eased Paul off, and said, ‘If they’re going to send a lot of people, then we’ll just run the ball.'”
With a 28-0 halftime lead, Truckee abandoned the passing game altogether in the second half. On Truckee’s second play of the half, Tierney pump-faked and hooked up with Maehler on a 28-yard pass down the right sideline. That was the Wolverines’ only pass attempt in the half. Maehler led Truckee receivers with three catches for 50 yards.
Micah Carbajal led the running barrage with 78 yards on 10 carries, including a 37-yard touchdown run. Cabral had 77 yards on 14 carries and added an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. His three touchdowns increased his season total to a team-high 14.
Mike Lopez had a four-yard touchdown run, and backup quarterback Robert Jones had 29 yards on two carries.
Randon Nunez had his seventh interception of the season, which he returned 54 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that made it 52-0 at the time. Nunez has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season. John Hooper had his sixth interception of the season, which he returned 23 yards to set up Lopez’s score. Truckee held North Tahoe to 54 yards total offense.
Shaffer admitted it was somewhat of a challenge to motivate his kids after last week’s similar blowout on the same field.
“I think, realistically, when you beat a team 51-3, it makes it tough to be motivated and to stay as focused as you normally would during the week,” he said.
Meanwhile, contemplating the future of Laker football, next season Everist is hoping for a heftier roster of more than the 20 players that suited up for him on Saturday.
“We’re trying to stay competitive in the 3A,” he said. “We’re going to try to pull some more kids off the street. 25 kids for us would be a big team.”
– Northern 3A Play-in Round
Saturday, Nov. 6
Truckee 59, North Tahoe 0
Spring Creek 34, Dayton 11
– Southern 3A Play-in Round
Moapa Valley 45, Pahrump Valley 28
Virgin Valley 20, Boulder City 16
– State Semifinals
Saturday, Nov. 13
Spring Creek at Moapa Valley, 1 p.m.
Virgin Valley at Truckee, 1 p.m.
– 3A State Championship
Saturday, Nov. 20
Semifinal winners at Sam Boyd Stadium, 6 p.m.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.