Truckee gives Sparks rude welcome to 3A football |

Truckee gives Sparks rude welcome to 3A football

Courtesy photo by Chuck SmithTruckee's John Hooper (21) makes a stop with other Truckee defenders in Friday's Northern 3A opener for both teams.

Inevitably, the Sparks football program’s inclusion into the Northern 3A will lead to more competitive games, but that wasn’t the case against Truckee on Sept. 17.

The Wolverines (1-1, 1-0) varsity scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions en route to a 52-0 win in the Northern 3A opener for both teams at Sparks High School. Sparks (2-1, 0-1) is new to 3A competition after playing as an independent in 2003 ” and in the 4A before that.

After Hug’s success running the ball in Truckee’s season opener, Sparks was looking to exploit what seemed to be Truckee’s overall team weakness ” its rush defense. Truckee responded by holding three Sparks running backs to 47 yards on 27 carries ” 1.62 yards per carry ” and sacking Sparks quarterback Alex Toler seven times.

The statement was an important one for the Truckee defense, which will take on Greater Nevada’s leading rusher this weekend (Sept. 25) ” Spring Creek junior James Edwards. Edwards already has 1,008 yards rushing in four games, an average of 252 per game.

Although the Sparks rushing attack is feeble compared to what the Wolverines will see against Spring Creek, Truckee dominated the game on both sides of the ball wire-to-wire.

Truckee’s defense set the tone for the night on Sparks’ opening drive that featured four Gabe Villacorta runs. A 15-yard face mask penalty by Truckee gave Sparks a first down earlier in the drive, but a third-and-four Villacorta run went for no gain and forced Sparks to punt it away.

The Wolverines started their drive on their own 25; two plays later, the route was on.

Truckee running back Mike Lopez broke out in the open field for a 24-yard gain on the first play. Truckee quarterback Paul Tierney then hit Jamie Maehler on an out pattern. Maehler stiff-armed the only defender that had a chance to tackle him and sprinted down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown reception.

On Sparks’ ensuing drive, head coach Rob Kittrell opted to go for a fourth-and-1 from the Railroaders own 44-yard line. Truckee stuffed Villacorta for a 2-yard loss, setting up a 5-play Wolverines scoring drive capped off by Nick Cabral’s 11-yard TD run. Tierney completed three straight passes on the drive to set up Cabral’s score, which made it 13-0. Truckee finished with 282 yards rushing ” amassed by seven different players.

But the clincher came courtesy of Maehler. After Ben Tonon carried the ball 12 yards to the Truckee 21-yard line, Maehler took a counter handoff up the middle, headed left, then cut across the field. With his free hand, he gave another Railroaders defender his signature stiff-arm and sprinted to the end zone for his second score of the game.

Maehler followed up a 227-yard receiving performance versus Sparks last season by gaining 157 total yards on just two carries and two receptions. Tierney finished 7 of 8 with 169 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Truckee wide receiver Brandon Peterson also had a nice run, eluding Railroaders defenders for a 39-yard touchdown off a screen pass from Tierney. Micah Carbajal’s 2-yard touchdown gave Truckee a 35-0 lead with over 6 minutes to play in the half.

Sparks’ best scoring opportunity came when it drove the ball to the Truckee 20-yard line just before half, but Matt Klesken and Joe Lipnosky sacked Toler on consecutive plays as the half ended. Lipnosky also intercepted a Toler pass to set up the Peterson touchdown.

Truckee place kicker Benji Islas capped the scoring with a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and was 7 for 7 on extra points.

The Truckee junior varsity football team is off to a 3-0 start after defeating Sparks on Sept. 17.

Not only are they winning, they’re making it look easy ” outscoring their opponents 166-27 in three games.

Against Sparks, Kevin Sahlberg ran his season touchdown total to eight with long scoring runs of 60 and 65 yards. Drew Stewart also had two touchdown runs ” a 15-yarder and a 25-yarder “and a two-point conversion.

Sam Silver and Nick Tennant also had touchdown runs. Silver’s 50-yarder was his seventh of the season.

Truckee quarterback Tommy Nichols has now thrown a touchdown pass in two straight games, this time hooking up with Brian Cordell for 20 yards. Place kicker Israel Serna had four extra points.

On defense, Cordell and Cole Hodges each had fumble recoveries. The “De-Cleat Award” for biggest hit was given to Kyler Coxson by head coach Steve Ames.

“I really feel that our offensive line is getting better, led by big Cory Hoehn,” Ames said. “A player that really stood out on both sides of the ball, who is our team captain this week, is Tim Curtis. Tim had numerous big plays on defense and was a big asset on offensive line.”

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