Truckee readies for showdown with Fernley
It started with a fourth-quarter comeback win over Churchill County on Sept. 1, and since then has snowballed into a seven-game winning streak as Fernley’s football team has ripped through the Northern League.
With two games left in the season, the only thing likely standing between Fernley (7-1, 7-0 Northern League) and a perfect league record at this point is Truckee (7-1, 6-1 Northern League). Fernley closes the year against a 1-7 Dayton squad.
The Truckee Wolverines come into the contest riding a five-game winning streak, and are also coming off their biggest win of the year in a 26-14 win over Spring Creek last week.
The Wolverines will face another tough challenge at quarterback as senior Zach Burns leads an offense that is averaging 34 points per game. Burns pushed his passing total over 1,000 yards during last week’s 42-14 win over Wooster. He’s also completed nearly 55 percent of his throws on the year with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Another factor in stopping Fernley, will be keeping Burns contained on the ground. So far, the quarterback is the Vaqueros’ second leading rusher with 342 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’ve got to slow down No. 14 (Burns) and No. 1 (receiver Aaron Proctor),” said Truckee Head Coach Josh Ivens. “Their offensive line plays well up front too — they are big.”
Burns’ favorite target this year has been the 5-foot, 11-inch senior, Proctor. The Vaqueros get Proctor the ball in a variety of ways, usually involving him in the running game by sending him in motion in order to utilize his speed on the edges. Proctor has racked up 320 yards on 32 carries, and has also shown the ability to burn opposing defenses deep with his speed.
Proctor was on Reed High School’s roster last year, but missed the season with a knee injury, and then transferred to Fernley.
“He’s definitely a difference maker for them,” Ivens said.
Proctor is also a dangerous return man, and has made big plays in the Fernley secondary with a team-high three interceptions.
Senior Willy Pritchard leads the Fernley rushing attack with 596 yards on 87 carries for the season.
The Wolverines have been the smaller team in most of their contests this season, and against Fernley they’ll face a massive offensive line, which features three starters at 260 pounds or more.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Ivens said. “We haven’t really gone against a team the size of Fernley as far as their front. It will be a good test.”
Defensively, Fernley mixes things up, moving from a 3-4 to a 4-2 alignment, but has shown to be susceptible to teams with good running games.
Junior outside linebacker Noah Osterman leads the Fernley defense with 58 total tackles (28 solo).
Osterman has also gotten to the quarterback for four sacks on the year, and trails defensive end Pritchard, who has six sacks.
Going into Friday night’s game, Ivens emphasized the importance of Truckee taking care of the ball and avoiding penalties.
If Truckee wins and Churchill County is able to defeat Spring Creek, it will create a three-way tie atop the league standings. A Fernley win all but locks up first place for the Vaqueros going into the postseason. The top two teams from the Northern League receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs, while the next six teams battle it out in the league quarterfinals.
The Wolverines won last year’s matchup 39-7, and are 10-5 against Fernley, dating back to 2005.
The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Friday, Oct. 20, in what is forecast to be a chilly evening in Fernley with temperatures in the 40s.
Statistics provided by MaxPreps.com.