Truckee football: ‘We’re very proud of our guys’ following high-stakes rivalry win
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A missed extra point was all that separated South Tahoe and Truckee in the latest installment of the Sierra Bowl on Friday, Oct. 21.
The Wolverines topped the Vikings 21-20 at Viking Stadium in a 3A Northern showdown between playoff-bound rivals.
“We’re very proud of our guys,” said Truckee coach Josh Ivens. “We knew South Tahoe was going to be a handful for us — they’re a great team and well-coached.”
Truckee (8-1 3A Northern), returning to the postseason after a three-year hiatus, claimed both the second seed and a first-round bye with the victory. South Tahoe (7-2) finishes third and will open the playoffs at home next week.
The Vikings and Wolverines traded a pair of scores in the first half Friday night, and went into the break tied 14-14. South Tahoe took the opening drive of the third quarter to Truckee’s 11-yard line, but came away empty after a fumble.
The Wolverines took the ensuing drive 90 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead. Senior Cole Harrity ran for a 3-yard touchdown — his third of the game — to put the visitors ahead 21-14 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
South Tahoe needed just five plays to answer, scoring on a 12-yard pass from senior Tommy Cefalu to senior Dylan Gooding that made it 21-20 with 3:02 left in the third. But the ensuing extra-point try from senior Noah Jackson missed wide right, keeping it a one-point game.
The Vikings kept Truckee off the board the rest of the way, but were unable to go in front. South Tahoe had two drives in the fourth quarter, and both ended with a stop on fourth down.
The second stop came on a fourth-and-8 from midfield — Cefalu threw a middle screen pass to senior Jacob Bernal, who was tackled two yards shy of a first down. After the turnover on downs, Truckee ran out the last 4:34 to hold on for its seventh straight win over South Tahoe.
“Having our defense step up in the fourth quarter like it did was huge for us,” Ivens said. “That’s not a team that gets off the field without scoring very much.”
GIVING PROPS TO THE O-LINE
Following South Tahoe’s final timeout with 2:35 left, Truckee secured the victory with a fourth-down conversion. Facing fourth-and-2 from the 33-yard line, Harrity took a pitch left and powered his way for 3 yards and the first down — four plays later, the game was over.
“I saw a lane, and I just knew I had to get the first down in order to win the game,” Harrity said. “I have to give credit to the offensive line — they’re the best line in the state hands down. That was a huge part of the success in this win tonight.”
Truckee took the game’s opening drive for a score — a 5-yard run from Harrity — and had a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. South Tahoe jumped in front early in the second quarter, scoring one play after a strip sack from senior Jackson Binns deep in Wolverines’ territory.
STHS senior Alberto Morales fell on the fumble at the 5-yard line, and the Vikings found the end zone on the next play. Cefalu hit junior McCallan Castles on a fade route, and the extra point put South Tahoe ahead 7-6 with 11:00 left in the second quarter.
Later in the frame, both teams traded scores on consecutive possessions to send the game into halftime tied at 14. With 7:21 left in the half, Harrity ran for a 72-yard score and a two-point conversion pass from senior Jayden Commendatore to senior Ian Schmidig put Truckee ahead 14-7.
South Tahoe answered by marching 63 yards with six straight pass plays for a touchdown. Cefalu capped the drive by finding Jackson wide open for a 28-yard score that tied the game up with 4:54 left in the first half.
Cefalu finished 20-of-37 passing for 243 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
For Truckee, Harrity ran for a game-high 231 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.
“Harrity has been a workhorse all year, and he had a great game tonight,” Ivens said.
Wulfe Retzlaff added 83 yards on 14 rushes. The Wolverines ran for 374 yards, and held onto the ball in the second half after committing five first-half turnovers.
Defensively, Retzlaff led the charge with a fumble recovery and a team-high 10 tackles.
No. 2-seeded Truckee will host the winner of third-seeded South Tahoe and sixth-seeded Fernley (4-5) in the league semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at Surprise Stadium.
“We definitely plan on seeing them in the second round of the playoffs,” Harrity said of the Vikings. “It just gives us an extra week to prepare — we’re going to be ready and we want this.”
Anthony Gentile is sports editor for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. The Sierra Sun’s Kaleb M. Roedel contributed to this report.