Truckee suffers season-endling loss to Fernley
The last thing the Truckee football team did before leaving the field after suffering a 21-11 season-ending loss at Fernley in the Class 3A Northern League semifinals was give a yell in memory of former Head Coach Bob Shaffer.
The Wolverines sported a Shaffer logo on their jerseys throughout the year, and while the season came to a disappointing end on Thursday, Nov. 9, the Truckee football team lived up to the standard laid down by the legendary former coach.
“All of us — coaches, players — we put our heart and soul into playing for Coach Shaffer,” said Head Coach Josh Ivens after the game. “When it’s all said and done, I don’t care what anybody says about anything that happened tonight or our other losses, we put it all on the line for a legend, and I’m proud of the way we did that for coach.”
No. 1 seed Fernley (9-1 regular season) came into the matchup off a bye from the first round, while No. 4 seed Truckee (8-2 regular season) entered the contest after a 35-28 win over South Tahoe in the quarterfinals. Fernley also defeated Truckee 28-21 in a meeting earlier in the year.
“On our week off, we just kind of went back to basics … and it seemed to help out,” said Fernley Head Coach Chris Ward. “Our defensive coaches didn’t feel like we had to do a whole lot different. We just had to do what we’re supposed to do better, and that’s what we worked on.”
In the Northern League semifinal matchup, the Wolverines fell behind early on after a 28-yard touchdown pass by senior quarterback Zach Burns to senior Cameron Bertok.
Truckee then picked up their first points of the evening early in the second quarter off a 34-yard field goal by junior Emmanuel Valenzuela-Jones.
The Vaqueros would respond by going on a late drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Burns with 1:35 left to play.
The Wolverines started the second half by getting the ground game going, and driving deep inside Fernley territory. But after a pair of penalties, Truckee faced a fourth-and-11 at the 28-yard line. The Wolverines elected to go for it, attempting a quarterback draw, but Bellon was taken down after a couple of yards giving Fernley the ball back at the 24-yard line.
The Truckee defense rose up to force a quick three-and-out, and the offense again went to work with a drive that took the team down to the 11-yard line. On first down, Bellon rolled out to his right and looked to hit senior Jamie Parisi, but junior Thomas Chapin undercut the route and intercepted the pass.
Fernley junior AJ Kuha then busted off a 30-yard run, followed by a 50-yard run by senior Willy Pritchard to end the quarter.
But with the Vaqueros inside the Wolverines 10-yard line, the Truckee defense was able to halt the drive with four consecutive stops to force a turnover on downs.
The ensuing Truckee drive went backward from the 8-yard line with a third-down sack of Bellon, which resulted in fourth and long from the 1-yard line.
Senior Aaron Proctor would mishandle the following punt, but then scooped the ball up and shot off on a roughly 30-yard return along the right side of the field down to the 5-yard line.
Burns then took a keeper into the end zone on the next play to make the score 21-3 with a little over eight minutes remaining.
The Vaqueros would then nearly land the knockout blow by recovering the following onside kick, but the Truckee defense again made a big play by recovering a fumble by Burns.
“I’m proud of our defense,” Ivens said. “We hung in there. They were put in some really bad spots and they held up.”
Bellon got Truckee’s next drive going with a 27-yard run, followed by a strike to senior Michael Doughty. Junior Marcus Trotter would cap the Truckee drive with a short touchdown run up the middle. Senior Cole Eichele then scored the two-point conversion for the final points of the season, as Truckee’s ensuing onside attempt sailed out of bounds. Eichele finished the night with a team-high 90 receiving yards.
Bellon finished the game with 181 yards passing and two interceptions, and also led the team with 70 rushing yards. Doughty and Trotter led the Wolverines defense with 10 tackles apiece, followed by junior Drew Wingard with nine.
Truckee ends the year at 9-3 overall and 7-2 in league. The win qualifies Fernley for the state tournament. Spring Creek defeated Churchill County 35-21 to earn the Northern League’s other state bid.
“We had a great year, and a great group of kids — there are a lot of kids coming back for next year,” Ivens said. “I just love this senior group. There wasn’t many of them, but they’re great kids, and I’m very proud of the way we played this year. Tonight wasn’t our best, but we still fought until the end and tried to make it interesting.”
Bellon led Truckee on the year with 1,805 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Truckee finished the year with eight runners at 190 yards or more. Eichele led the group with 670 yards, and two touchdowns. Parisi was next with 554 yards coming on an average of 9.2 yards per carry, and three touchdowns. Trotter was next with 506 yards and six touchdowns, followed by Bellon at 375 yard and six touchdowns.
Parisi also led the team in receiving with 709 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Doughty led this year’s defense with 83 tackles, followed by Eichele with 76. Trotter finished with a team-high nine sacks, while sophomore Tyler Estabrook had the most interceptions on the team with four.
Staff writer Justin Scacco can be reached at 530-550-2643 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org