Truckee football: Wolverines hungry for title, defending state champs stand in way
TRUCKEE Whos the underdog here?On one side is defending state champion Moapa Valley, which enters Saturdays 3A state championship in Las Vegas fresh off a 35-7 walloping of Fernley, the Norths No. 2 seed. On the other is a title-hungry Wolverine squad that just thrashed No. 2 Southern seed Virgin Valley, 35-7.Both teams can score, and both can defend. Truckee is averaging 36 point per game. Moapa Valley averages 35.4. The Wolverines are holding opponents to 11.8 points per game. The Pirates have allowed 15.8. Both earned No. 1 seeds from their respective regions in dominant fashion, and both bring plenty of hype into the big game.They even share the same record (9-2 overall), as well as mutual respect.From what Ive seen (of Truckee), its going to be a battle, said Brent Lewis, the Pirates head coach of seven years. They (the Wolverines) are pretty physical for not having a super amount of size. But theyve got some strong kids, I can tell that.Indeed. Likewise, the Pirates made a strong impression on Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer.They look very big, very athletic, and they have good team speed. And their huge guys are very good, which is where we may struggle a bit, said Shaffer, whose Wolverines are 8-0 against the 3A, despite a relatively undersized offensive line that has battled to stay healthy. …Were probably going to have to play our best game of the season to come away with a win or theyre going to have to play their worst game, Shaffer added.According to MaxPreps.com, Moapa Valley (6-0 against the 3A) is the ninth-best team in the state tops among 3A programs and Truckee ranks 14th. Moapa’s two losses came against Utah programs, while Truckee lost twice against California schools.The NIAA record book has Truckee with eight state championships, five of which came in the 3A and three in the 2A. Moapa Valley has 14 titles, with two in the 3A, three in the 2A, six in the 1A and three in a six-man league.Last time the two met, the Wolverines shut out the Pirates 28-0 for the 2004 state championship. Lewis remembers it well.I recall the butt-whooping we got the last time we played, he said.This years group of Pirates appears as capable as ever on paper. Their linemen, led by 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior Tyler Lomprey, are massive across the board, with Troy Buttery topping the list at 290 pounds. Our defensive and offensive lines have been our backbone, Lewis said. Were very solid all the way across the line.A dozen Moapa Valley players weigh in at 200 pounds or more including linebacker and leading tackler Jake Pearce and six exceed 250 pounds.Moapas big bodies on the lines account for the teams stingy defense as well as the prodigious rushing stats from senior Brad Weiss, who ranks third in greater Nevada with 1,688 yards on 213 carries (7.9-yard average). Hes rushed for 20 TDs.Were anchored by Brad Weiss. Hes our go-to guy, Lewis said. We havent had to open up our offense much because weve run the ball so well. But weve got other capable guys to get the ball to.The coach described Weiss as a power runner at 5-foot-10, 196 pounds. He doesnt have super breakaway speed, but hes got good speed. He mostly runs between the tackles, Lewis said.Heres where the differences come into play, as Truckees largest player is listed at 220 pounds. And while the Pirates hand off the ball almost exclusively to Weiss, the Wolverines have used a wide range of backs to amass yardage.So far its worked, as 10 Truckee players have rushed for 100 yards or more, and six have eclipsed the 200-yard mark. Seven of those players average at least 8 yards per carry.At the quarterback position, third-year varsity starter Max Jenkins has led the Pirates to the past three state championships. This season hes completed 76 of 151 passes for 1,276 yards with 13 TDs.Truckee senior Justin Vosburgh, in his first year at quarterback, has connected on 63 of 128 passes for 856 yards, with seven TDs.Come Saturday at 6 p.m., all the stat comparisons mean nothing between the chalk lines. Thats why they play the game.