Truckee Wolverines out to disprove doubters for 2019 football season
8/23 @ Bear River*
8/30 @ Fernley
9/7 North Valleys
9/13 @ Churchill County
10/4 @ Elko
10/11 @ Sparks
10/19 Spring Creek
10/26 South Tahoe
* denotes non-league game
The Truckee football team faces an uphill battle as the program enters the 2019 season.
With relatively small classes of senior and junior players, Coach Josh Ivens has brought up roughly a dozen sophomore players to fill out the team’s roster, including at quarterback.
The lack of depth at the upperclassmen level combined with the graduation of a deep class of players that led Truckee to a state runner-up finish last year has some saying this will be a down season for the Wolverines — talk that has put a chip on the shoulders of players.
“There’s a lot of people out there saying Truckee is going to be bad,” said senior George Skaff. “We’re just going to come out there and surprise you.”
Compared to the start of last season, Skaff, a linebacker and tight end, said the mindset of the team has changed. Going into 2018, the Wolverines expected to compete for a state title, and this year, he said nothing is being taken for granted as the team looks to fight for its place in the Class 3A Northern League.
“The mentality is different,” he said. “I want to say this group is working harder in the weight room.”
Still, Ivens indicated there will likely be growing pains and maturing that need to take place in order for the young squad to find success this season. That sentiment was echoed several times during last Tuesday’s practice as players got after teammates for missing assignments or not hustling enough.
“It’s been a lot of coaching up … just hounding them to get their plays down,” said Skaff on the younger and new players. “We have high expectations for them. They are doing well and stepping up to the role. Especially in the last couple of weeks, you can see younger kids are out there competing.”
Offensively, Truckee will again rely on several running backs to move the ball. Of those, senior Tyler Estabrook is slated to see a large increase in usage after carrying the ball 30 times in 2018.
“There’s some big shoes to fill,” said Estabrook on going into this season. “Running back-wise we have some really good (players) filling into the spots that left.”
Last season, Truckee had seven players finish the year with more than 250 rushing yards as part of one of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s top rushing teams. The offensive line that produced those results has mostly graduated, and will now be led by senior guard Dayton Broad.
“We’re a lot younger than we were last year, but we definitely have the same potential. It’s just discovering it,” said Broad, who will also play defensive tackle.
“Our defensive line is sturdy this year,” he added. “We’ve got speed for rushing and strength for holding and maintaining our gaps.”
At quarterback, Ivens declined to name a starter until the team puts on pads for their first full-contact practices next week, but said the position battle is between sophomores, Jackson Kahl and Tavin Hamilton.
Heading into the season opener next Friday at Bear River, the Wolverines will have had only a handful of full-contact practices. Since Truckee is located in California, but the team competes in Nevada, the football team is subject to regulations from both states.
Truckee’s league opponents from Nevada are able to have full-contact camps during the summer months, which aren’t allowed in California.
“Most school(s) have already had full contact before we even get to August,” Ivens said. “It puts Truckee at a clear disadvantage.”
The Wolverines open the season in Grass Valley against Bear River at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. From there, the team jumps directly into league play at Fernley at 7 p.m. the following week.
Truckee will play its home opener during week three of the season, squaring off against North Valleys at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. Truckee will then travel to Churchill County on Sept. 13, for a rematch of last year’s state championship game.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.