Truckee football: Wolverines fall short in state championship
LAS VEGAS ” The defending 3A champs looked the role Saturday night.
Large and athletic and with speed to spare, the Moapa Valley Pirates proved they are in fact the real deal ” just as Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer had gathered from game film.
Moapa Valley (10-2) outscored Truckee 35-16 in an explosive first half, then held the Wolverines scoreless the final two quarters to capture its second straight 3A title. The Pirates became the first 3A program to repeat since Truckee in 2004 and 2005.
“We knew we’d have to play a perfect game, and we didn’t do that,” Shaffer said after an emotional post-game meeting with his players, several of whom stood up to deliver impromptu speeches to their teammates.
“Despite all this, it was a good season,” Shaffer continued. “I hope when it’s all said and done that these guys will look back and see what they accomplished. They played with heart, played as a team. As a coaching staff you can’t ask for much more than what these guys gave us this year.
“We were just a little outgunned (Saturday) night.”
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak for Truckee, which entered as the North’s No. 1 seed at 9-2 overall and 8-0 in the 3A.
Most of the drama, and all the scoring, was condensed into an action-packed first half. The 3A powers traded blows, each breaking off big plays down field to ignite their respective fan sections. (The 490-mile one-way trip did not discourage the Truckee faithful.)
It was not a winning formula for the Wolverines, who put up a commendable fight with several big plays of their own but ultimately could not keep pace with the Pirates.
Ryan Macken and Jordan Deiro came through with Truckee’s biggest plays, as Macken broke free for an 88-yard touchdown sprint in the first quarter and Deiro ran for a 50-yard score in the second. Deiro finished with 123 yards on 13 carries and Macken with 121 yards on six touches.
Defense prevailed in the second half as Truckee tried to play catch-up and Moapa Valley played conservatively. The Wolverines were forced to keep the ball on the ground for the most part, as Pirate defenders chased Truckee quarterback Justin Vosburgh into hurried throws the entire night.
Truckee’s defense stepped up in the second half, but by that time Moapa Valley had posted all the points it needed thanks to seniors Brad Weiss and Matt Newton, who combined to score all five Pirate touchdowns. Weiss, the state’s third-leading rusher, finished with 120 yards rushing, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Newton had 133 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“We haven’t had to open up our offense too much this year because of our running game, but when we got the ball into Matt Newton’s hands he was quite a weapon,” said Moapa Valley head coach Brent Lewis, whose senior receiver caught passes of 28, 20, 16 and 65 yards in the opening half ” with the 20- and 65-yard receptions going for touchdowns. “And Brad (Weiss) has been Mr. Steady all year long running behind our big offensive line.”
With the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter, Shaffer replaced several starting offensive players with reserves. The fact had sunk in that the Wolverines would have to wait at least another year to bring home a ninth state championship, and the players took it to heart, many overcome with emotion as the clock ran down.
“I feel good that we brought Truckee back to state,” said Truckee senior lineman Travis Dwyer, who held his own against taller, heavier Pirate linemen on both sides of the ball. “It’s awesome we got here; we just came up a little bit short.”
Macken gave credit to the Pirates.
“We lost to a good team. I feel like they just wanted it more than we did,” he said. “I have mad respect for them.”
Macken did everything in his power to keep Truckee in the game, answering Moapa Valley’s first TD with an 88-yard equalizer ” this on the Wolverines’ second offensive play ” while also enforcing his normal smashmouth defense.
His score was as impressive as it was timely, as the fullback/linebacker lumbered ahead for about 10 yards until meeting a wall of Pirate defenders. Once stopped, Macken somehow broke free and burst into the open field, sprinting to the end zone with deceptive speed to outrun his pursuers.
Deiro’s touchdown was just as timely, as it narrowed the score to 28-14 after Moapa Valley began to pull away with three consecutive TDs. It was an impressive score, too. Deiro waited patiently for his blocks, then shot through a hole and into the open field. His speed on display, the junior won a foot race to the end zone to inject life into the Truckee sideline and fan section.
“I’m proud of the way we hung in there in the end and played with class,” Shaffer said. “It’s tough to go out with a loss, but only one team can win state.”
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.