Truckee football: Wolverines get glimpse of future at spring practice
TRUCKEE, Calif. — It’s never too early to get fired up about football season — particularly for fans of the 12-time state champion Wolverines.
The Truckee football program began spring practice this week, and with a boost in numbers and incoming talent, third-year head coach Josh Ivens is pleased by what he sees.
“We’re deeper at every spot, offense and defense, with pretty much two guys at every position. We haven’t had that in a few years,” Ivens said. “We’re real excited about the potential of this team. We feel like this is a team that could get Truckee back in the playoffs. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and our division isn’t getting any easier, but if they put the work in…”
Truckee got to work Monday with its first non-contact spring practice for all age ages, from the incoming eighth-grade class to the soon-to-be seniors. Practice continues each week day from 3-5:30 p.m. until June 8 and concludes with the third annual Red vs. White seven-on-seven game, in which the 2015 Truckee varsity team will take on the outgoing seniors.
While the Wolverines have struggled with low numbers in recent years — and have not made the postseason since winning four consecutive state championships from 2009 to 2012 — the current eight-grade class should help bolster numbers and the overall level of talent in the program, Ivens said.
More than 30 to-be freshmen came out for practice. Ivens said he expects about 30 to stick. That eighth-grade group played deep into the postseason in Pop Warner’s Junior Midget division this past fall before eventually falling to a team from Phoenix in the Best of the West Division III championship.
In all, 82 players came out on Monday, Ivens said, including 17 sophomores, 24 juniors and nine seniors. He expects about 75 to remain when the fall season begins. Ivens said he plans to keep about 30 players on the varsity team and is unsure whether the Wolverines will field both a JV and freshmen team or just one of the two.
“We’re going to go forward like we have a freshmen and JV team,” Ivens said. “We might have to take some of the freshmen and move them up to the JV team. And we’ve shifted some of our juniors down. The low numbers are the current freshmen class, which are next year’s sophomores. The high numbers are in the eighth-grade class. So the JV team is kind of the team that’s on the bubble.”
As far as Truckee’s nine to-be seniors, Ivens said the leaders of the group appear to be Sean Bokinskie, a free safety and wingback, Taylor Ludwig, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound lineman, and Erik Swalander, a lineman and team captain last season.
Swalander is set to highlight the Wolverines’ annual lift-a-thon fundraiser, which is scheduled for June 3 at 6 p.m. in Truckee’s old gym.
Ivens said former Truckee coach Dick Barrett started the fundraising event in 1981, and it remains the primary fundraiser for the program.
“It almost died three years ago and we’re trying to revive it,” Ivens said.
Swalander will go for a school record at this year’s lift-a-thon. After recently power lifting three reps of 275 pounds in Ivens’ weights class, he’ll attempt 315 pounds on June 3. If he succeeds, he’ll topple Cole Roberts’ record of 310, set in 2011.
“He’s real strong right now,” Ivens said of Swalander, “and he definitely has the potential to get the record.”
Action on the gridiron
Ivens began Truckee’s seven-on-seven game in his first year as head coach in 2013, pitting the to-be varsity team against the graduating seniors.
“We run it like a seven-on-seven passing tournament. It’s kind of a fun thing to finish up the spring. It’s nice to end with a competition,” he said. “The outgoing seniors have a ton of pride and don’t want to lose to the incoming team, so it gets kind of heated and competitive.”
In addition to the graduating seniors — who will be led by former Truckee coach Bob Shaffer — Truckee alumni Patrick Shaffer and Graham Christian will also play against the 2015 team, Ivens said.
The seven-on-seven game will be held at Truckee’s Surprise Stadium on June 9 at 4 p.m.
Looking ahead to the 2015 season, the Wolverines open with a Friday night game under portable lights, as they take on Division III power Yerington on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
“We’re just trying to generate some excitement for Friday night lights in our community,” said Ivens, whose Wolverines have always hosted day games on Saturdays — because Surprise Stadium has no lights.
“I know a lot of our supporters are running their businesses on Saturdays or are down at the lake enjoying their weekend. I think on a Friday night we’ll get more people out. I think it would be a good thing for our town.”
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Students from North Tahoe and Truckee recently made the trip to Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley to compete in the annual Kays Ostrom Invitational.