Truckee football: Wolverines primed for clash with rival South Tahoe
TRUCKEE, Calif. — On the heels of a turnover-riddled letdown to unbeaten Spring Creek, the Truckee football team wasn’t short on motivation leading up to Saturday’s home showdown with Fernley.
“The way we lost last week was rough, and I was interested to see how the team was going to respond,” Truckee coach Josh Ivens said.
He didn’t have to wait long to find out.
The Wolverines marched into the end zone on their game-opening drive, and didn’t allow a single yard on the Vaqueros’ ensuing possession, setting the tone for a 39-7 3A Northern League win on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
“That’s kind of been our thing all year, to come out and make sure that we assert ourselves physically right off the bat,” Ivens said.
At the forefront of the physicality was Wulfe Retzlaff. A fierce playmaker on both sides of the ball, the senior fullback/linebacker racked up 155 all-purpose yards with three touchdowns, along with 17 tackles, including six for a loss, and a sack.
“I just sort of get into the zone and nothing really matters except the game and what plays I have to make,” Retzlaff said.
This was epitomized during Truckee’s seven-play scoring drive that started late in the first quarter. Retzlaff broke off tackle-shedding 45-yard run, hauled in a 15-yard catch on 3rd-and-14, and polished off the drive with rushes of six and four yards to give Truckee a 12-0 lead at 9 minutes, 57 seconds in the second.
In all, Retzlaff accounted for 70 of the Wolverines’ 82-yard drive.
“Wulfe’s got that passion and desire — he’s a throwback player,” Ivens said. “Our most physical player gets an award every year — it’s called the Wolverine Award —and he got it as a sophomore and a junior. So he definitely brings that physicality to the game, and he makes plays.”
DEFENSE BEARS DOWN
Minutes later, Jack Englert added to the highlight reel with a show-stopping sequence. The senior snared a diving interception on a deep Fernley pass, and then — one play later — turned around and hauled in post-pattern pass, in stride, from Jayden Commendatore for a 49-yard touchdown.
Fernley, however, managed to break off some big gains and find pay dirt in the final minute of the first half, cutting the deficit to 18-7 at intermission.
“At halftime we just went over our responsibilities again,” Retzlaff said. “The main reasons they were getting their big plays on us were gap errors. So we needed to close that down.”
Truckee did just that, shutting out the Vaqueros in the second half with a suffocating defense.
“We were motivated,” Orlander Simms, a senior defensive tackle, said. “That was a tough loss last week at Spring Creek, but we came into practice this week and said, whatever happened last week, happened last week; we had to focus on Fernley.”
Meanwhile, the Wolverines’ offense kept the pace in the second half. Retzlaff punched in a 1-yard score and later snagged an acrobatic catch along the sideline and scurried in a 31-yard TD in the third. He finished with 109 rushing yards on 10 carries to go with 46 receiving yards on two grabs.
Truckee punctuated its scoring in the fourth, where Jamie Parisi and Noah Williams each galloped in 30-yard touchdown runs.
Williams finished with 60 yards rushing, while Cole Harrity added 70. Ian Schmidig scored Truckee’s opening touchdown on a 1-yard rush.
Commendatore threw for 141 yards on 7 of 12 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.
Defensively, Michael Doughty had eight tackles and Orlander Simms and Dominic Acevedo had six apiece.
In JV action, Truckee pushed past Fernley, 38-24.
South Shore showdown next
The Wolverines (7-1) will look to cap the regular season with an exclamation point Friday when it travels to the South Shore to square off with rival South Tahoe (7-1). Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at South Tahoe High School.
On paper, both balanced teams are nearly identical. The Vikings enter averaging 41 points per game while holding teams to 15.5. The Wolverines are erupting for a shade over 43 points a night and allowing just 13.
Further illustrating the similarities, South Tahoe is coming off of a 40-0 shutout of Elko, a team Truckee blanked 39-0.
“They’re very athletic and they’re very fast on defense,” Ivens said. “Anytime you’re facing speed on both sides of the ball, it’s lethal.”
The Vikings are led by quarterback Tommy Cegalu, who’s thrown for 1,217 yards and 16 touchdowns in just five games. He missed the first three weeks with a broken hand.
In the backfield, South Tahoe’s Jacob Bernal has charted 716 yards and eight TDs.
“They’re a team that you have to defend their run and their pass,” Ivens said. “It’s going to be a fun ballgame.”
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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.