Truckee football | Historically good

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Charles SlusherTruckee players hold up their 3A state championship plaque after defeating Moapa Valley for a third consecutive year in the title game on Saturday.

If they slept at all Saturday night, Truckee football players probably woke in the morning with their hands locked in the same position and#8212; flashing a middle, pinkie and ring finger proudly to the world.

They earned the right to extend the fingers, one for each state championship title over the past three years.

and#8220;All the hard work paid off. I can’t even tell you how much work we put into this,and#8221; said senior lineman Max Collinson, who, overcome with emotion, dropped to a knee and buried his face in his hand as his teammates and fans celebrated around him. and#8220;We knew from the beginning we were going to come out and win. And we got it.and#8221;

This year’s undefeated campaign may not have come as easily as the previous two. But that just made it that much sweeter as Truckee, despite fielding a shell of its former self in terms of returning players, still managed to run the table, stretching its now three-year win streak to 36 games.

The new-look Wolverines were tested along the way. And they passed with flying colors, using a gutsy final drive to score the game-winning touchdown against Fallon in the state semifinal round, then grinding out a hard-fought 21-6 win against Southern 3A power Moapa Valley in the state championship Saturday.

While others across the state thought and#8212; or hoped and#8212; that Truckee’s dominance had ran its course, coach Bob Shaffer and crew knew differently.

and#8220;Whenever you have 20 people graduate or move on, and you only have two coming back, you have a changing of the guard, so to speak. And I think a lot of people didn’t know just how good they would be or how well they would prepare,and#8221; Shaffer said of his team. and#8220;But I mentioned at the start of the year that if there’s one thing that was not going to happen, it’s that this group was going to get outworked.

and#8220;The thing that I really liked about them was that they were hard-hat guys, lunch pail kind of guys who felt like they had to go out every night and prove and#8212; maybe not as much to our community, and certainly not to themselves and#8212; but prove to everybody else that we were capable of coming back.and#8221;

They proved as much with their most impressive performance of the season.

Moapa Valley was no pushover, with capable skill players all over the field and a stifling defense that helped lead the Pirates to a 10-2 record entering the contest. The Wolverines had their work cut out for them.

Just ask Collinson, who battled in the trenches against the biggest and baddest the Pirates had to offer. Aside from the state championship ring he earned out of it, he came away with a bloodied knuckle and a healthy level of respect for his opposition.

and#8220;That was a tough, tough game,and#8221; Collinson said. and#8220;Me and that 52 (senior captain Taylor Schwartz), that nose guard, were going head-to-head all night. I mean, he beat me up a few times. I give all the props in the world to those kids. They played a great game. But I’m just so happy we won.and#8221;

While Collinson gave credit to Moapa Valley for a game well played, Pirates head coach Trent Lewis returned the compliment after falling to the Wolverines for the third consecutive year in the state championship game.

and#8220;You have to play four solid football quarters against Truckee, and we knew that coming in. It’s been no different in games past,and#8221; Lewis said. and#8220;Bob does a great job with his kids. We knew full well what it was going to take to beat them, so hats off to those guys. Going into the future, who knows what this four-game series is going to mean. They’ve got the banners and we don’t. That’s basically what it means.and#8221;

In all, Truckee now has 11 state championship banners, with eight of those coming in the 3A and three of them in the 2A. That number is tied for sixth-best in NIAA history, while the eight 3A titles ties Wooster’s state record.

With all those titles, Shaffer has amassed 163 wins and eight of the championships in his 17 seasons at the helm, giving him better than nine wins per year. The coach has posted just one losing season and#8212; 2006 and#8212; and ranks second in wins among active coaches in Nevada, trailing only Virgin Valley coach Kirk Hafen’s 166.

Since that uncharacteristic 2006 season, when Truckee finished 4-6 and lost in the first round of the postseason, the Wolverines have gone 53-5, and 44-1 in their last 45 games. The last time they lost to a Northern 3A opponent was in the 2007 playoffs, while Moapa Valley was the last team to defeat Truckee, 35-16, in the 2008 state championship.

As far as the current win streak, the 36 consecutive victories is tied for seventh-best in the nation in 11-man football. It’s the longest-running streak among California schools and#8212; even though Truckee competes in Nevada and#8212; and ranks second all time in the NIAA among 11-man programs to The Meadows’ 41 wins, which they achieved from 1998 to 2001.

So it was easy to understand Truckee seniors wearing their emotion on their sleeve after playing together for the final time.

and#8220;Everybody knew that for all the seniors, this was the last game of their lives, and we all had to try as hard as we could and#8212; and we got it done,and#8221; said senior defensive back Kai Goodpaster.

and#8220;I’m definitely just going to miss the name: Truckee football,and#8221; said senior quarterback Pat Shaffer. and#8220;I’ve been around it since I was 6 years old, and I love it. I’ll just miss the tradition and the coaches and players. I love the red and white.and#8221;

With those final words, Shaffer thumped the and#8220;Truckeeand#8221; lettering across his chest twice with a closed fist, then rejoined the celebration unfolding all around him.

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