Truckee football | Wolverines romp in home opener |

Truckee football | Wolverines romp in home opener

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Sylas Wright / Sierra SunSenior running back and linebacker Cole Roberts returns a kickoff early in Saturday's 55-3 Truckee win.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Three games into the season, the new-look Truckee football team has done its best to quash any notions that it is not on par with its predecessors.

Cole Roberts and Jake Pettit scored three touchdowns apiece as the two-time defending state champion Wolverines rolled to a 48-3 halftime lead and a 55-3 Northern 3A win against visiting Sparks on Saturday. Truckee (3-0) has now won 27 straight games, dating back to the 2008 state championship.

and#8220;We always had confidence in ourselves,and#8221; said Roberts, a senior running back and linebacker who finished with a 75-yard touchdown run and two long interception returns. and#8220;We’ve got the same coaches as always, which I think are the best coaches in the state of Nevada, especially defensively. If you give our coaches some decent athletes, they can put together one hell of a defense.and#8221;

Led by Roberts, the Truckee defense held the Railroaders (0-4) to just 81 rushing yards and 86 passing yards in the game. Only an impressive 45-yard field goal by Esteban Bravo late in the first quarter broke up the shutout.

and#8220;Our kids believed coming in, which is a huge thing. But gosh darnit, we just didn’t execute it,and#8221; said Sparks head coach Rob Kittrell. Asked if he was surprised by this year’s Truckee team, which lost a number of impact players from the undefeated group of the past two seasons, the longtime Sparks coach scoffed. and#8220;No, come on. Not at all. Coach Shaffer is still there and the same coaching staff, and they always get the most out of their kids.and#8221;

While the Truckee defense excelled, bending a few times in the first half but never breaking, its offense looked just as sharp from the get-go. After forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession and then receiving a nice return from Roberts to the Sparks 17-yard line, quarterback Pat Shaffer hooked up with Tyler Curtis for a score on Truckee’s first play from scrimmage.

After another Sparks three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Wolverines drove 56 yards, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Pettit. Austin Ferreira kicked through one of his six extra points on the day, and just like that the Wolverines led 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Railroaders responded, however, putting together a drive of their own that started at their 46-yard line and ended six plays later when Bravo blasted a field goal from 45 yards out that sailed through the uprights with plenty of leg behind it. Kittrell said the senior kicked a 58-yarder the previous week, and has made a 70-yarder in practice.

But two plays later, Roberts took the handoff from the Truckee 25-yard line and outran everyone 75 yards to the end zone, aided by some key initial blocks.

Just as the Railroaders began to find a semblance of rhythm on offense, quarterback Geovanni Vasquez was picked off on three consecutive drives in the second quarter. The turnovers noticeably deflated the Railroaders’ spirit.

and#8220;I was nervous going in. Sparks looked good against Fernley last week. But I’m not sure we saw the same team,and#8221; coach Shaffer said. and#8220;They didn’t seem to have the same pep in their step.and#8221;

Javier Virrey made the first interception, which Pat Shaffer gave back when Erik Garcia stepped in front of a Truckee receiver and picked off a pass near the goal line. The Railroaders again were on the move, driving 40 yards in five plays before Roberts spoiled a pass attempt from Vasquez and returned it 65 yards to the house. On the very next possession, Roberts did it again to Vasquez, this time returning the pick 50 yards for the score, and a 34-3 lead.

and#8220;The quarterback pretty much just looked right at it,and#8221; Roberts said. and#8220;He got me on a couple of them before, where I was just a little late, but I cheated a little bit and was able to get there.and#8221;

The back-to-back interceptions and subsequent returns impressed coach Shaffer.

and#8220;He timed it just right and stepped in front and got the pick, and then had open space to run. I don’t think anybody has caught Cole from behind yet this year,and#8221; Shaffer said. Asked if he thought Roberts was as fast as his older brother, former Truckee All-State receiver Ryan Roberts, Shaffer did not commit an answer. and#8220;Well, let’s just say he’s pretty fast with the ball in his hands. He’s football fast,and#8221; the coach said.

Truckee scored again on a 13-yard strike from Pat Shaffer to Trevor Auldridge, then added a final touchdown of the half when Pettit broke through the line on a draw play and ran 46 yards unscathed, pushing the lead to 48-3 after Ferreira’s extra point.

and#8220;Jake Pettit had some nice long runs,and#8221; said coach Shaffer of the junior running back, who finished with a game-high 154 yards rushing on six carries. and#8220;Our offensive line made a huge improvement over last two weeks. It seemed like we almost could have called anything and it had and#8216;pretty good-looking play’ written all over it.and#8221;

The final score came on the first play of the second half, as Pettit got outside and won an 80-yard foot race to the end zone for a 55-3 Truckee lead. The Wolverines did not throw a pass the remainder of the contest as their second string came in to replace the starters.

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