The Pee Wees’ big adventure: Teams get mized results in weekend play
Two out of three Division III Pee Wee football teams from Truckee found out this weekend that size does matter. The other used its usually dominating defense to take a championship home.
Quite impressive for a town of roughly 14,000, Truckee sent three Pee Wee teams to the regional championships this weekend in the Bay Area towns of Pinole and Richmond.
The teams’ championship runs prove that competing on the gridiron is a special pastime and something that many are proud of in Truckee – and not just the kids.
“The whole community has overwhelming support for our football programs from Pee Wee to high school, and the kids love to be involved,” said Travis Pribble, head coach of the Wolverine Midgets. “We run the same offense, the Wing-T, all the way up to high school, so the kids are already acclimated to the system.”
The Midgets, ages 13-14, were handed a disappointing 38-6 loss to the Morgan Hill Raiders at Pinole, but Pribble thinks his players were facing adversity even before the opening kickoff.
“It’s just frustrating for us because we come from a relatively small town and we’re playing a team that has 250,000 kids to choose from,” Pribble said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Jake Moule, one of Pribble’s assistant coaches, said the second half was a lot closer than the first. The Midgets faced a 25-0 deficit at halftime.
“We recovered an onside kick to open the half and drove down and scored,” Moule said. “We recovered a second (onside kick), but we fumbled on the 20-yard line on the way to another score.”
At that point, the deficit was too much to overcome, but Pribble and Moule were proud of their players’ efforts.
“We made too many turnovers and we gave up the big plays,” Pribble said. The Midgets finish the year with an 8-2-1 record.
The two other games were a few miles away at De Anza High School in Richmond.
Greg Christian, head coach of the Wolverine Jr. Pee Wee team, cited a different sort of size as one cause of his team’s 14-0 loss to the Peninsula Coastside Pirates.
“These kids were like a half-helmet taller than our kids across the board,” he said. “They had a much bigger football team than us.”
Christian’s team ranges in age from 8-11, so the emphasis to win was not quite as strong among the players.
“Our kids had a ball just traveling,” he said. “I think they liked staying in the hotels as much they liked playing in the game. Plus, it was nice to get off the hill and play in some nicer weather.”
Christian, whose team ends 7-4 in 2003, enjoys the challenge of teaching the younger players.
“It’s a very team-oriented sport, and I like to see how the kids progress over the course of the year,” he said. “It’s amazing what you can get these kids to do.”
Later in the day, the Wolverine Jr. Midgets put Truckee in the win column with a 20-0 shutout over the Willamette-Eugene Steelers, in a typically dominant defensive effort. The team was crowned Pacific Northwest Champions with a 10-1 record.
Head Coach Bob Raber has been coaching the same group of kids, moving up the ranks with his son Robert, for the last four years. He said it was great to see the hard work pay off.
“Last year, we came up one game short, so it was nice to finally make it this year,” he said. “For most of my kids, it was their first trip to regionals.”
Garry Bernards, the defensive coach for the Jr. Midgets, said the defense gave up 24 points the whole season, or 2.18 points per game. (That’s less than one field goal.) Their only loss came by a score of 6-0.
“We had a dynamite little team,” Bernards said.
Raber said to look for a group of six or seven kids from this team to light things up on next year’s freshman football team.
The Wolverine Pee Wee team did not make regionals this year, but it fought hard, falling short of the regional championship by one game under Head Coach Jared Sahlberg.
No matter what age group they watch, community members can start getting excited now about next year’s action.
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