Varsity football recap: Hug 34, Truckee 21
Sierra Sun sports editor
The Truckee Wolverines defense found out what happens when you pick a footrace with Hug’s Isaac Porter.
The Hawks (1-1) senior running back saw Truckee defenders in his rear view mirror on a few long dashes to the end zone as visiting Truckee (0-1) dropped its season opener to the 4A Reno school, 34-21, on Sept. 3.
Porter broke open a close contest early in the fourth quarter with an 85-yard scamper up the middle, busting through two Truckee tacklers on his way to providing his Hawks with a 26-14 lead. Porter’s fourth and final score of the game sealed Truckee’s fate and added to a huge night that featured touchdown bursts of 95 and 36 yards.
Porter lit up a brisk Reno night by gaining 321 yards on 21 carries, averaging over 15 yards per rush.
Not only did his footspeed impress, so did his ability to both dodge and dismantle Wolverines tacklers.
“Porter’s a great back,” said Truckee defensive coordinator Gary Collins. “He doesn’t go down; he’s probably the best back we’ll see this year ” I hope.”
Truckee trainer Gary Lewis called Porter a “Man amongst boys” after the game, and Collins compared Porter to Albert Hollis, formerly of Christian Brothers. Collins was on the Truckee sidelines when Hollis rushed for over 400 yards in a win over Truckee a few years ago.
Hollis posted career totals of 5,046 rushing yards and 69 touchdowns for the Sacramento-area high school from 1998-99 and went on to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Hollis is the best back Collins has seen during his 20-year coaching tenure at Truckee, he said, but Porter is a close second.
“He’s got great character, and he never gives up,” Collins said.
Porter was not the only back that attacked the Truckee defense, as four other Hug runners combined for 132 yards and a touchdown. Poor tackling was a major part of Hug’s 9.4 yards per carry average on the night.
Thanks to an upcoming bye week, Collins and the rest of the Truckee staff will have two weeks to work on tackling drills, a problem that has dogged the Wolverines defense so far.
“We haven’t really tackled well yet this season,” said Collins, who has roughly 30 years coaching experience at the high school level. “But we’ve had teams that have gone to state that have started out like this.”
It was by no means a terrible game for Truckee, especially considering it was the season opener, on the road, against a 4A Reno school. Truckee even seemed destined to tie the score early in the fourth quarter, but failed to get any points out of a first-and-goal situation with Hug leading 20-14.
It was the second such situation in which Truckee failed to put any points on the board. With less than a minute remaining in the first half, a fourth-and-goal Paul Tierney pass to receiver Kevin Embertson fell incomplete. Two field goals would have also tied the score, but the Truckee coaching staff was not comfortable in the kicking game.
“When (Benji Islas) kicked his first two extra points, they were very shaky and barely in there,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer. “The second one almost got blocked, so we felt our best bet was to try to get in the end zone.”
Truckee running back Mike Lopez actually did find the end zone before the half, but a holding call negated the touchdown and Truckee eventually turned the ball over on downs. Offensive penalties in the red zone hurt Truckee all night.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot,” Shaffer said. “Penalties and turnovers hurt us on offense.”
Truckee also fumbled the ball away twice during the game. However, in retrospect, Truckee was only a couple plays ” or a few less mistakes ” away from putting 35 points on the board in the season opener. Shaffer is hoping to see a more a more fluid performance from his squad in Truckee’s Northern 3A opener at Sparks on Sept. 17.
“The big thing about this team right now is that word consistency,” he said. “We look good on some plays, and we look horrible on some plays. We missed tackles; we didn’t do what we’ve been coached to do.”
Tierney threw three touchdowns in the game, completing 15 passes for 155 yards, and rushed for 36 yards. Jamie Maehler caught four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Running back Micah Carbajal led Truckee rushers with 64 yards and caught a 14-yard touchdown pass, while running back Nick Cabral was on the receiving end of Truckee’s first touchdown.
Shaffer calls the bye-week both good and bad.
“It’s bad because we have a long wait now before we get back on the field,” he said. “On the other hand, we’ve got this bad taste in our mouths that we have to live with for two weeks from tonight.”
[The Truckee varsity plays and intrasquad scrimmage at Truckee High School on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. The junior varsity scrimmages Hawthorne (Nev.) at 1:30 p.m.]
Offense: Truckee running backs Drew Stewart and Kevin Sahlberg each scored three touchdowns on the ground, including a 30-yarder by Sahlberg. Sam Silver had a 60-yard TD run and a 58-yard kickoff return. Kyle Coxson had a TD run of six yards. Truckee never had to punt the ball in the game.
Defense: Truckee middle linebacker Brian Cordell recovered a fumble and made several key tackles. Freshman Paris Tenorio had four sacks and defensive end Kyle Sundale had two fumble recoveries. Sahlberg won the “Decleat Award” for biggest hit, a team award head coach Steve Ames gives out after every game.