Truckee sputters into playoffs with OT loss at Sparks
The Truckee High football team lost its third consecutive game, 13-7, in overtime at Sparks to end the regular season Friday.
Despite a three-game skid against league opponents, the Wolverines (2-3, 4-5) will enter the postseason as the fourth seed in the Northern 3A and will play at No. 1-seeded Dayton (5-0, 9-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The hard-fought loss came as another disappointment for the two-time defending state champions.
“What I told the kids after the game is that we keep finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win,” Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer said. “It’s just like the last few games; we can’t seem to get around the corner.”
After winning its first two league contests, Truckee has dropped each of its last three by six points, losing 13-7 to Dayton on Oct. 14, then 27-21 to Spring Creek on Oct. 21 and 13-7 to Sparks on Friday.
“Our last three games were very winnable,” Shaffer said. “We could be 5-0 in league right now.”
Sparks (3-2, 7-2) will host Spring Creek (3-2, 7-2) on Saturday.
The Railroaders ” a much improved team from a year ago when they lost at Truckee, 61-27 ” scored the game’s initial points early in the second quarter on a 20-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex Toler.
Truckee responded with a 57-yard drive capped by a 1-yard TD run by senior fullback Drew Stewart. After a successful PAT by Cruz Esquivel, the score was tied at 7.
Truckee’s defense helped keep the Wolverines in the game, as they forced two Sparks turnovers while junior defensive back Nick Tennant intercepted two passes.
Both offenses had trouble moving the ball effectively in the second half, and after a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by Sparks late in the fourth quarter, regulation ended in a 7-7 tie.
In an overtime period in which each team was given four downs to score from the 10-yard line, Truckee ran three run plays to the 4-yard line before giving junior Cruz Esquivel a shot at a field goal.
Esquivel kicked through the short field goal, but had to try again from five yards back due to a false start penalty. His second attempt missed, giving the ball to Sparks.
The Railroaders made it to the 1-yard line on two rushing plays before Toler punched through the line on a quarterback keeper for the winning touchdown.
Shaffer was not happy.
“I actually hope they’re down on themselves right now,” he said of his players when asked about the team’s spirits. “If they feel good about themselves after the last three losses, something is wrong.”
A win at Dayton could change all that. And after nearly beating the Dust Devils less than a month ago, the Wolverines know they are capable.
“We need a good week out of our defense and special teams and our offense has to try to put some points on the board,” Shaffer said.
SPARKS 13, TRUCKEE 7
Truckee 0 7 0 0 0
Sparks 0 7 0 0 6
S: Toler 20 run (A. Quilici kick)
T: Stewart 1 run (Esquivel kick)
S: Pickens 1 run
Rushing”Truckee: Sahlberg 16-93, Mazzini 6-39, Stewart 5-22, Nevin 11-7, Ballister 1 (-37). Sparks: Toler 13-123, Pickens 18-68, Blackhat 6-33.
Passing”Truckee: Ballister 6-9-0-38; Sparks: Toler 15-25-2-126.
Receiving”Truckee: Myers 2-23, Serna 2-10, Mazzini 1-8, Stewart 1 (-3). Sparks: Blackhat 5-64, A. Quilici 5-45, Z. Quilici 3-9, Morlet 2-8.
TEAM League Overall
Dayton 5-0 9-0
Sparks 3-2 7-2
Spring Creek 3-2 7-2
Truckee 2-3 4-5
Fernley 2-3 5-5
Lowry 0-5 1-8
Playoffs, Saturday, Nov. 4:
Truckee at Dayton
Spring Creek at Sparks