Truckee football heads to first round of postseason
He’s not sure the exact year, but Truckee High football coach Bob Shaffer thinks the last time the Wolverines finished with a losing league record was roughly two decades ago.
This year’s squad finished 2-3 (4-5 overall) after suffering a 13-7 overtime loss at Sparks this past Friday.
That all means nothing come 1 p.m. Saturday, though, when regular-season records become irrelevant as Truckee and Dayton face off in the opening round of the Nevada 3A playoffs.
For the Dust Devils, on the line is their perfect season (5-0, 9-0 overall), as well as a legitimate shot at the program’s first ever state championship.
For the Wolverines, on the line is Truckee football pride and a run at a third successive state title.
Does the Truckee pride part mean much to the players?
“Yeah, you bet,” Shaffer said. “We’re actually pouring that on them, the fact that they have an opportunity to do something unique.”
In order to pull off the feat, the Wolverines will have to execute well enough to put a halt to a three-game skid that began on Oct. 14 with a 13-7 home loss to the Dust Devils ” the first time Dayton had ever defeated Truckee.
While Dayton proceeded to roll over its next two opponents, routing Sparks, 40-24, the following week and Fernley, 29-0, the next, Truckee suffered consecutive losses against Spring Creek and Sparks. The Wolverines lost all three by exactly six points, and each could have gone in their favor had it not been for untimely penalties and turnovers.
Key injuries also factored into the close losses. This week is no different, Shaffer said, as senior wingback Andrew Mazzini is out indefinitely with a back injury, junior halfback and team rushing leader Keven Sahlberg likely will not play due a concussion and senior fullback Drew Stewart is unlikely to play because of an injured ankle. Senior center Devin Shurtleff is also questionable, Shaffer said.
To fill the holes, Shaffer called up 12 junior varsity players, including running backs Robert Raber and Justin Vosburgh and tackle Dylan Crosby, who may see some time at center in place of Shurtleff, Shaffer said.
The Dust Devils, on the other hand, enter Saturday’s contest with a healthy roster, said Dayton head coach Rick Walker. And there are some good football players on that roster.
Take senior quarterback and safety Travis Wood, for example, who ranks sixth in greater Nevada in passing with 1,055 yards on 78 of 148 completion. Or brutish linemen Brandon Seymour, at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, and Nick Brown, who stands 6-5 and weighs in at 240. And the Wolverines can’t afford to forget about junior fullback Brandon Aguilera, who broke a 38-yard touchdown run for the go-ahead score in the teams’ last meeting.
But really it’s about the Dust Devils’ defense, Walker said.
“Our defense has really stepped up. They’re head and shoulders above any defense I’ve had before,” the fifth-year head coach said. “And when your defense is able to shut down other teams’ offenses, your chances are usually pretty good.”
Then again, Truckee’s defense is not so bad itself, allowing just over 13 points a game in league play. And had it not been for a fourth-quarter Truckee fumble at the Dayton 1-yard line back on Oct. 14, the Wolverines could have walked away the victor.
“They beat us 13-7, and we were two yards away from winning that game, so we were right there,” Shaffer said.
Come Saturday, the Wolverines will find out if they’ve got what it takes to be on the opposite end.
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