TnT crushes Lions; Bulldogs next
Tahoe-Truckee High School football player Dan DeCoite remembers the final score to the 3A state championship game last November in which the Wolverines beat Virgin Valley by seven points.
And he’s positive each Virgin Valley player will also be remembering that score when the Bulldogs step on the field to battle Truckee in the state 3A semifinal football game set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Virgin Valley.
“Just like we had 21-20 written on everything last year (the score of the 1995 final where Truckee dropped a one-point game to Moapa Valley), they’ll be remembering the score of last year’s game and use it to get motivated,” DeCoite said. “They’ll be real fired-up.”
Truckee advanced to the semifinal by crushing Yerington High School in workman-like fashion last Saturday, 46-8. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on six of eight possessions and didn’t commit a turnover.
Truckee coach Bob Shaffer said the Lions made the mistake of trying to beat the Wolverines at their own brand of football.
“They got caught up with an up-tempo offense, trying to throw,” Shaffer said. “That’s not their forte. By the time they started to pound the football and were somewhat successful, they were down by three touchdowns.”
Shaffer said he was pleased with the Wolverines’ ability to put points on the board.
“The offense was successful – when we had the ball,” said Shaffer, referring to the fact that Yerington ran 72 plays to Truckee’s 43. “We had our usual breakdowns, but for the most part the offense ran well.”
Indeed, the Wolverine offense ran very well, as running back Rudy Cross ran for 207 yards on 17 carries and Kevin Kikawa recorded 74 yards on nine carries. The two also combined to score five touchdowns.
Tight end Mike Detwiler opened the scoring for Truckee in the first on a 10-yard pass play from quarterback Chris Gerdin. Gerdin had another solid day leading the Wolverine offense, finishing the day 10 for 15 passing with 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Cross scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 37-yard run to close out Truckee’s second drive. By the time Kikawa ran in with a 15-yard reception from Gerdin late in the first quarter, TTHS had a 20-0 lead.
Cross scored in the second quarter on a 41-yard run and Kikawa added a 2-yard dash in the third on fourth down to increase the lead to 40 points.
Rob McClendon, just up from the JV team, scored Truckee’s final (and most entertaining) touchdown on an offside kick gone wrong for the Lions, as McClendon took the squib kick and returned it 54 yards.
Even with the 38-point margin of victory, Truckee players and coaches said there was room for improvement, especially on defense as the Wolverines allowed the Lions 143 yards on the ground and nine completions through the air.
“That’s a lot to give up,” Shaffer said. “Their receivers were getting open.”
“We didn’t play up to our standards,” DeCoite said. “I don’t think we studied our assignments as hard as we should have for a playoff game. And we didn’t make the tackle; we would hit their ballcarrier two yards deep in their backfield, but he would still get three yards.”
Virgin Valley strategy
With its huge offensive line which includes two tackles weighing 312 and 304 pounds, Shaffer said the Bulldog attack won’t surprise anyone.
“I’m sure they’ll be more than happy with ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ on each play,” Shaffer said. “They’ll try to keep the ball out of our offense’s hand by running the ball, with an occasional play-action pass.”
“They’re beatable if we run our assignments,” DeCoite said, “but if we play defense like we did against Yerington, we’ll be turning in our gear on Monday.”
Even if Truckee can get past Virgin Valley, which advanced to the semi with a 42-16 win over Battle Mountain and is now 9-1 this season, Shaffer said it’s no guarantee of the Wolverines repeating as state champs.
“I can’t say this is the ‘state game,'” Shaffer said. “Spring Creek beat Virgin Valley by 10 points earlier this season and we beat Spring Creek by only 12 points in a snowstorm. I said following that game, I’d like to see what Spring Creek could do in good weather – it looks like I might get my wish.”
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