Truckee JV football fall preview: No more freshman program
Sierra Sun sports editor
There’s a reason why the Truckee junior varsity football roster looks so big on paper in 2004.
Due to budget cuts, the freshman program that now junior varsity head coach Steve Ames started in 2001 is gone after three years. Although he enjoyed coaching all freshmen, Ames is OK with having a larger talent pool to choose from and construct a team around.
“We got ninth graders to fill spots that we couldn’t have filled this year on the tenth grade (team),” he said. “Now we’re a much better team because of the two (combined grades).”
Ames may have found the right combination, as his 39-man freshmen/sophomore roster opened the season on Sept. 3 by crushing Hug, 61-7, on the 4A Reno school’s home field.
“Everything went our way tonight,” Ames said after a game in which his squad’s offense never had to punt the ball. “I still don’t know if we were that good, or if they were that bad. But they were big and they were fast, and we came out and played really good on both sides of the football.”
He also found out his new batch of brawlers have a killer instinct.
“What I liked about the second half is we didn’t want to have a letdown,” he said, “and we almost scored just as much in the second half.”
Leading that scoring barrage was sophomore running back Drew Stewart and freshman running back Kevin Sahlberg, who scored three touchdowns each. Sahlberg had touchdown runs of 20 and 30 yards in the game.
The key to Truckee’s success on offense lies in the depth of its running attack. Ames said he will stick with a ground attack philosophy in the early season, while freshman B.J. Carter and sophomore Tommy Nichols battle it out for the starting quarterback position.
Against Hug, sophomore running back Sam Silver took a handoff 60 yards for a touchdown and also took it to the house on a kickoff 58 yards. Sophomore running Kyler Coxson also scored on a 6-yard power up the middle, as offensive linemen Cory Hoehn, Sean Estabrook, J.D. Wright and Israel Serna opened huge gaps in the Hug defense the entire night. Serna also made all but one of his extra point attempts in the game.
“We’re a very fast team, with our line improving every week,” Ames said.
On top of the already dominant performance, Truckee had four touchdowns called back because of penalties, Ames said.
The Truckee defense will be anchored by 6-1, 175-pound sophomore middle linebacker Brian Cordell. Cordell led the team in tackles versus Hug and also recovered a fumble. Freshman linebacker Paris Tenorio also contributed four sacks.
Ames also gave credit to defensive ends Kyle Sundale and Evan Hyland, who did a good job of forcing Hug running backs into the middle of the field where Cordell and company finished them off. Sundale had two fumble recoveries in the game.
“Defensively we played great,” Ames said. “I can’t say enough about those kids.”
Sahlberg was also a force on defense, winning the “De-cleat Award,” for the biggest Truckee hit in the game, a weekly tradition Ames started to add some competition amongst his players. Ames said he gives out a necklace with a silver cleat medallion for the overall winner of hardest overall hitter at the end of the season.
Ames said he is glad to be reunited with the freshmen he otherwise would have said goodbye to this year. He also took pride in watching them equal their win total of 2003 – one – and doing it dominant fashion.
“The tenth graders really deserved that; they had a tough year last year with injuries,” he said. The 2003 Truckee freshmen squad also earned a victory by forfeit, but Ames doesn’t bother counting that.
The Truckee junior varsity should be strong this year for another reason – they lose no sophomores to a varsity program that has 53 juniors and seniors, the largest team varsity head coach Bob Shaffer has had in his nine years at Truckee.
Combining the freshmen and sophomore players also bids well for the freshmen because they will already be familiar with the kids who will be their teammates when they’re juniors.
“It really helps (the freshmen) because you get to know those players ahead of you, and the learning curve goes way up, so you start playing a lot better,” Ames said. “They all got baptized tonight (against Hug).”
Winning is always fun, but Ames’ principle is learning before winning on the JV level.
“Our goal is to win as many games as possible,” he said, “but at the same time it’s a learning level. We want all the kids to play; my personal goal is to get all the kids in(to the game) and play both sides of the ball.”
Day Date Opponent Time Site Result
Fri. Sept. 3 Hug 4:45 p.m. Hug (W, 61-7)
Sat. Sept. 11 Hawthorne (scrim.) 1:30 p.m. Truckee
Fri. Sept. 17 Sparks 4:45 p.m. Sparks
Sat. Sept. 25 Spring Creek 11 a.m. Truckee
Sat. Oct. 2 Damonte Ranch 11 a.m. Truckee
Fri. Oct. 8 Fernley 4:45 p.m. Fernley
Sat. Oct. 16 Dayton 11 a.m. Truckee
Fri. Oct. 22 Lowry 4:45 p.m. Lowry
Sat. Oct. 30 North Tahoe 11 a.m. Truckee