Truckee football roster shrinks " but it’s still potent
As rosters continue to dwindle, Truckee football’s championship fervor remains alive and well.
Teeming with 50 players as recently as 2004, the 2008 Wolverines will field a squad of 29 in their season opener against Bishop on Sept. 6. They had 34 players in 2007, 41 in 2006 and 47 in 2005 ” the year they repeated as 3A state champs.
“Sixteen kids who played as juniors or sophomores on varsity or JV are not out for the team,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer. “I can’t remember being in the 20s, so this may be the smallest group I’ve ever had.”
Nevertheless, the eight-time state champion Wolverines are a confident bunch. Always are.
“Those 29 kids we have are working hard, and we have high expectations for them,” said Shaffer, who has led Truckee to five of those state titles.
Shaffer compares this year’s team in many ways to last year’s, when an undersized but athletic squad swept the Northern 3A regular season before losing a heartbreaker, 28-27, to Fernley in the opening round of the postseason.
“We’re probably about the same,” Shaffer said. “We’re not very big size-wise, but we’ve got some kids with decent speed. We’re hoping our skill guys will be good.”
Especially senior Justin Vosburgh, an effective halfback and defensive back last season who has been given the nod as starting quarterback.
“He’s one of our best athletes, and we feel he’s intelligent enough to remember all the little details,” of the position, Shaffer said, explaining how he and his coaching staff settled on Vosburgh, also a pitcher on the Truckee baseball team.
“At first he looked like a baseball player (throwing the football), but he’s getting better,” Shaffer added.
Vosburgh and company may have to start the season without last year’s leading receiver and second-leading rusher, wingback Ryan Roberts, who pulled a hamstring on his anchor leg of the 4×100 relay in the state track meet this past spring. Shaffer said Roberts, who received first team All-League recognition last season, may miss the first two or three games of the season.
“I think we’re looking good,” Roberts said between his teammates’ two-a-day practices Monday. “We’re small numbers-wise, but we’ve got some good players. As long as we stay healthy, we should be pretty dominant.”
Roberts looks for the Wolverines to be particularly strong defensively.
“We’ve got Ryan (Macken) coming back and Dylan (Crosby). I think the defense always comes around quicker than the offense, because it’s more instincts,” he said.
Macken, a senior linebacker, was last year’s Northern 3A Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Wolverines with 118 tackles. He also played a mean fullback. This year he’s bigger and faster than ever, weighing in at 215 pounds.
“We’re small in numbers, but we have a lot of speed and a lot of good skill players,” said Macken, re-emphasizing that the Wolverines boast “a lot of speed ” maybe more than any team the last few years.”
Besides Macken, senior fullback Robert Raber returns after leading the Wolverines in rushing last year, and senior All-League tight end Flynn Rice should bolster the Wolverines’ offense as well, Shaffer said.
Shaffer also has been impressed with senior wingback and defensive back C.J Ackerman, who gained speed during the offseason and is now running a 4.5 40. Shaffer’s son, Vince, will also see time at wingback.
The coach expects Crosby and Brian Sipe, both of whom earned All-League recognition last year, to help anchor the offensive and defensive lines.
The Wolverines open their season with a non-league game against Bishop (Calif.) at home on Sept. 6. They follow with non-league games on the road at Mariposa (Calif.) on Sept. 12 and Colfax (Calif.) on Sept. 19. Truckee opens league play at Lowry on Sept. 26. Before then, however, the Wolverines host a scrimmage against North Tahoe and Quincy on Saturday.