Truckee visits Sparks for critical regular season finale |

Truckee visits Sparks for critical regular season finale

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee halfback Keven Sahlberg slips away from a Spring Creek tackler during the Wolverines' 27-21 loss on Oct. 21.

After soundly defeating its first two Northern 3A opponents, the Truckee High football team has backtracked into a must-win scenario the final week of the regular season.

Truckee (2-2, 4-4) travels to Sparks to take on the Railroaders (2-2, 6-2) on Friday in a crucial contest in regards to postseason play. If the two-time defending state champion Wolverines lose their third straight, and if Fernley (2-2, 5-4) knocks off first-place Dayton (4-0, 8-0) on Thursday, Truckee’s playoff hopes will have to wait until next year.

Thus Truckee needs a win to have any control over its own destiny.

“I thought they (Truckee players) understood that last week,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer, whose team fell short, 27-21, against visiting Spring Creek on Saturday. “That was the game we penciled in as a must win.”

If the Wolverines manage to snap out of their funk to beat the Railroaders, they will automatically advance onto postseason play.

As of today, Truckee, Sparks, Spring Creek and Fernley ” all 2-2 in league ” are clumped into a four-way tie behind Dayton and ahead of last-place Lowry.

Spring Creek visits Lowry for a 7:30 p.m. start tomorrow while Dayton plays at Lyon County rival Fernley. So by Friday’s 1:30 p.m. kickoff the Wolverines will be well aware of what they must do.

“We need to have an error-free game,” Shaffer said. “The kids have to execute their assignments for four quarters, not just two.”

That has been a problem in Truckee’s past two games, during which they’ve managed zero first-half points against both Spring Creek and Dayton, which left Surprise Stadium with a 13-7 win. Had it not been for a number of inopportune Truckee miscues, the Wolverines could be the 4-0 team heading into the last week.

But that’s history.

The focus now is on a much improved Sparks squad. And Shaffer knows his team is not likely to match last year’s 61-27 rout.

“They’re very athletic,” Shaffer said of the Railroaders, who boast the No. 1 quarterback and receiver in greater Nevada in terms of stats.

“They’re a very good team with great speed. They’ve always been well coached, but now they’re getting the inner city kids who are good athletes and have bought into the football program.”

Sparks quarterback Alex Toler indeed has had quite a season, completing 96 of 195 passes for 1,705 yards and 21 touchdowns while the state’s top receiver, Zach Quilici, has 41 receptions for 807 yards and is averaging 19.7 yards per catch.

The Railroaders possess additional offensive weapons in running back Mike Pickens, ranked 11th in Nevada in rushing with 753 yards on 105 carries, and receiver Jamane Blackhat, whose 25 catches for 245 yards ranks 12th best in the state.

“We have better athletes than we’ve had in the past,” Sparks head coach Rob Kittrell said. “We’re more athletic than big and physical.”

Kittrell ” whose team lost to Dayton 40-24 last week and lost by a field goal to Fernley before shutting out Spring Creek 28-0 on Oct. 6 ” has faced enough quality Truckee teams in his nine-year tenure not to make the mistake of taking the Wolverines lightly.

“Their offensive line does a great job,” he said. “It’s a typical Truckee team that has had some bad luck.

“Both teams are backed into a corner this week. Now we’ve got to go out and try to beat the two-time defending champs.”

It could be interesting.

Dayton 4 0 8 0

Sparks 2 2 6 2

Spring Creek 2 2 6 2

Fernley 2 2 5 4

Truckee 2 2 4 4

Lowry 0 4 1 7

Thursday’s games:

Spring Creek at Lowry, 7:30 p.m.

Dayton at Fernley, 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s game:

Truckee at Sparks, 1:30 p.m.

Truckee 41 62 54 41

Opponent 45 44 29 9


Player Carries Yards TDs Fumbles

Keven Sahlberg 87 671 11 1

Andrew Mazzini 52 581 7 1

Drew Stewart 63 314 6 2

Tucker Nevin 37 230 1 1

Cruz Esquivel 31 163 1 2

Trevor Allen 14 85 1 1

Tucker Ballister 7 42 1 2

Cole Hodges 6 16 0 1

Nick Myers 2 10 1 0


Player Attemps Comp. Yds TDs Inter.

B.J. Carter 68 30 470 0 8

Tucker Ballister 19 11 132 1 0


Player Receptions Yards TDs

Nick Myers 11 171 0

Keven Sahlberg 7 145 0

Izzy Serna 6 95 1

Drew Stewart 8 94 0

Trevor Allen 4 65 0

John DePew 2 23 0

Tucker Ballister 1 11 0

Cruz Esquivel 2 0 0


Player TDs Extra points Total points

Keven Sahlberg 11 0 66

Andrew Mazzini 7 0 42

Drew Stewart 6 0 36

Cruz Esquivel 1 21 27

Tucker Ballister 2 0 12

Izzy Serna 1 4 10

Pablo Esquivel 1 0 6

Nick Myers 1 0 6

Nick Tennant 1 0 6

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