Truckee O-line paves way for state’s top rushing attack
Often outsized in the trenches, Truckee’s offensive line has proved that bulk isn’t everything when it comes to pushing opposing defenses around.
With most of the Wolverines line hovering around 200 pounds, Truckee ball carriers have still managed to run over, through, and around defenses this year as blockers up front have paved the way for the most prolific ground attack in all of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
Through seven games this year, the Wolverines have amassed the most yards in the state, averaging 303.6 yards per game on the ground. That lofty number, along with 23 rushing touchdowns, wouldn’t be possible without the guys putting their hand in the dirt on each play.
“The way our offense is set up we get good angles at bigger players. Since we’re all smaller, it makes our blocks easier,” said center and team captain Martin Bravo-Karvonen.
“We play with heart, and our running backs are pretty good too. So it makes it a lot easier to block.”
No matter which of Truckee’s seven ball carriers who regularly see touches, the offensive line has given Wolverines runners big holes all season long. Truckee boasts seven runners with 100 yards on the year or more, and has produced a handful of rushing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards.
“Our lineman are all seniors. We all pretty much have it down,” said guard Ryland Ward. “At that point it comes down to executing. I feel we do it pretty well. We make some pretty large holes.
“We give 110 percent on every play and pop them in the mouth. We try to be the most aggressive line out there.”
Led by Assistant Coach Ken Ferree, Truckee has consistently fielded one of the best rushing teams in the state. The Wolverines had eight players with 190 yards or more last year, and averaged nearly 300 yards rushing per game in 2016.
“(Coach Ferree) has been here a while, and he’s seen a lot,” said Ward. “He knows the ins and outs of every defense and how to properly instruct you.”
The last team the Wolverines front five took advantage of was Elko. Truckee runners finished with a pair of touchdowns and 269 yards on the ground in a dominant 31-0 performance at Surprise Stadium.
“Our blocking and our mentality have been strong for most of the games we’ve played,” said senior lineman Stephen Ryan, while also pointing to Truckee’s 27-10 win against Lowry as one of the few times the offensive line struggled during the year.
The Wolverines as a whole didn’t have a great performance during the week five matchup at Lowry, but Truckee runners still turned in a massive night against the Buckaroos, piling up 386 yards on the ground.
In the passing game, the offensive line has done a good job of keeping senior quarterback Marcus Bellon upright, while providing the dual-threat quarterback with ample space to use his legs.
Bellon has completed 59 percent of his passes this year, and has thrown for 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Fighting along the trenches with Ryan, Bravo-Karvonen, and Ward are seniors Jake Bullion and Zach Charter. Tight ends senior Brennen Conklin and junior George Skaff also get involved in the run game.
Truckee (6-1, 5-1 Northern League) will next face a struggling Sparks (2-5, 2-4 Northern League) in the Wolverines’ regular season home finale. The game, on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1:30 p.m., will be senior day for Truckee.
The Wolverines will then hit the road for the final two games of the regular season, facing off against Spring Creek and South Tahoe.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.