Three decades ago seems like yesterday |

Three decades ago seems like yesterday

Chuck Clatterbuck
Tahoe-Truckee High, class of 1975
Courtesy photoTruckee end Chuck Clatterbuck fights off North Tahoe's Mike Ericson (12) for a reception on third-and-eight in the second quarter of the Wolverines' victory over North Tahoe on Oct. 5, 1974. Former Truckee head coach John Stewart can be seen on the right sideline in suit and tie.

I attended Tahoe-Truckee High and played in the first Truckee, North Tahoe football game (on Oct. 5, 1974). It was a very big event back in that time. So here’s my memory:

I just received notice of my 30 year class reunion to take place next summer as the Truckee/North Tahoe class of 1975 will be getting together (on July 16, 2005).

The year is 1974, and I was a senior on the Truckee varsity football team. North Tahoe High was in its first year of existence. Before NTH had opened, everyone on the North shore of Lake Tahoe from State Line to Tahoma attended High School at Truckee.

They announced the creation of the new school our freshmen year, so going in we all new that we would be split up our senior year. All seniors had the choice of staying at Truckee, but everyone zoned for the new school was excited about going to school closer to home.

The talk of how good the new school would be at athletics started our freshmen year, and, true, the number of athletes from the lake towns in every sport at every level outnumbered the Truckee athletes.

As freshmen, there were 10 of us from Truckee on the freshmen football team. As a sophomore that number had dwindled to seven and as a junior on the varsity team only five of us remained. All five of us were either starters as juniors or saw significant action, which was I think by design of head coach John Stewart . Stewart knew that he was going to inherit a depleted talent pool. We had 27 members on our 1974 varsity team; North Tahoe had 37.

That spring before the ’74 season, coach had recruited several players that had never played high school football before or had not since their freshmen or sophomore year. With those recruits, the five of us mainstays, and the previous year’s junior varsity players, coach put together our team. There were seven of us players on that team that had gone to school together since kindergarten.

During spring practice, both the teams practiced on Truckee’s practice fields. I can remember the friendly banter between the players, of how who was going to kick whose butt next fall. For the most part, the NTH boys had the most confidence ” after all they had bigger players, bigger numbers, more players with experience, a new coach and new fancy uniforms.

We Wolverine players kept the return banter to a minimum. We talked about it as a team and thought it best to let them do most of the talking and use it as motivation to prepare ourselves in the summer. That summer, we would get together and play pick-up games when we could. When Hell Week (Double Days) came in late August, everyone was anxious to get started and from that first day we began talk of the game with the Lakers.

We were 2-1 going into the Laker game; the whole school and the community was excited about the game. The week before the game we had pep rallies, and the school was decorated with posters supporting the team. I can remember practice that week being different in the fact that coach was real intense and he stressed the fundamentals more than running our offense or defense.

We played all our home games on Saturday back then. On game day, the varsity would usually watch the junior varsity game until halftime and then go prepare for our game. On this game day, all the players were in the locker room at the start of the JV game.

By halftime, we were all dressed to the waste and in the wrestling room lying on the mat preparing ourselves mentally. It was real quite with not much activity. Coach gave the pregame speech, in which he emphasized execution and fundamentals. He didn’t have to make any emotional statement; he knew that we would be pumped up enough. In fact, he kept it low key and business-like in order to avoid getting us too pumped up.

On the walk to the field, it became obvious this was a special event. I had been going to Varsity games since I was five years old and never before had I seen a crowd so large at a Truckee varsity football game.

Both sides of the field were standing room only. I can’t remember what the attendance was, but I know it was a couple thousand. Finally after three years we had a chance to do something about all the talk they had been doing.

We received the kickoff to start the game. We dominated on both the offense and defensive lines. Most of the guys on our lines were the guys that coached had recruited ” guys that didn’t have much experience but on this day they had all heart.

At halftime we were up 14-0, and the team ran up to the locker room and arrived ahead of the coaches. We were all celebrating when the coach burst into the room and shut us all up.

The room was quiet and coach proceeded to share a college game experience with us. He told us of a game he played in for Cal State against Illinois, in which they were up by 4 touchdowns at halftime and ended up losing the game.

The second half started with us kicking off to the Lakers, who took the ball and marched down the field and scored. With the score now 14-6, coach gathered us for the kick return and made sure we knew that the Lakers had taken it to us on that drive. He also referred to his halftime speech.

The kick return team gathered on the field. Emmit Tracy our quarterback, yelled out to “Hit somebody!” He promptly ran the kick back for a touchdown; that with the 2-point conversion made the score 22-6.

The Lakers never recovered, turnovers cost them dearly the rest of the game, and we were able to control the ball in the fourth quarter and with time running out we stopped the Lakers at our 20-yard-line to end the game.

The celebration after the game went into the night. A joint school dance was organized for that night. Not many showed up from North Tahoe, but that was understandable.

That day is one I will never forget, that single event in my life was a culmination of three years of anticipation and the one event of that time in my life I will never forget.

As a person goes through life, there are a lot of moments that never fade: Marriage, the birth of your children, adventures and friendships. You experience the good and the bad. It’s been 30 years since that day, and details remain in my mind that will never fade.

[Chuck Clatterbuck played wide receiver and free safety for the 1974 Truckee High School football team. Clatterbuck currently lives in Las Vegas.]

* North Tahoe/Truckee rivalry turns 30 years old:

* Preview of 2004 matchup (30th regular season game):

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