Wolverines burn Winters
Bring on the Northern 3A.
For the second time in two weeks, the Truckee High football team dominated a quality non-league opponent, this time rolling over Winters (Calif.) 40-7 during homecoming on Saturday.
“Our kids came to play,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer, whose team is now 2-2. “We’re just starting to see some of that physicality.”
The large home crowd packed into Surprise Stadium should have been treated to a shutout, Shaffer added, pointing to a single defensive breakdown that led to the Warriors’ only points.
Those seven points came late in the first quarter when Truckee’s defense allowed senior halfback Nathanael Lucero an open lane down the sideline in which to sprint 89 yards for a touchdown. Nick Hedrick kicked through the extra point to tie the game at 7.
The Warriors’ excitement was short-lived, however, as Truckee halfback Keven Sahlberg answered immediately with a 98-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff.
Sahlberg ” a junior who finished with 47 yards on six rushes and two touchdowns, as well as several nice returns on special teams ” followed his blockers down the middle of the field before bouncing outside and using his speed to outrun everybody down the Truckee sideline untouched. Junior Cruz Esquivel made good on the extra point to extend Truckee’s lead to 14-7.
A halfback when not kicking left-footed field goals and extra points, Esquivel also put the Wolverines on the board two and a half minutes into the game on a 2-yard touchdown run. That drive took all of two plays after Truckee sophomore Ryan Macken recovered a blocked punt at the Wolverine 11-yard line on Winters’ first possession.
To round off the scoring in the first half, Truckee marched 33 yards on four run plays before Sahlberg darted through a large hole up the middle into the end zone standing from five yards out.
The half ended with the Wolverines in control, 21-7.
While Truckee’s defense was effective ” giving up just 15 first-half yards through the air and 62 yards on the ground after Lucero’s TD ” Truckee’s offensive line of Forrest Krull, Cory Hoehn, Tim Curtis, Devin Shurtleff and Arek O’Connell overpowered the Warriors’ defensive front from whistle to whistle.
“Other than a couple holding penalties, the O-line did a great job,” Shaffer said of the unit, which repeatedly opened holes for Truckee running backs.
In capitalizing on those gaping holes, Shaffer said, Wolverine backs finally learned to be patient enough to let the blocks develop.
“It’s all based on timing, and they’re starting to figure that out,” Shaffer said.
It showed, as the Wolverines gained a total of 291 yards in the game on 37 rushes, with five backs finishing with more than 40 yards and four scoring touchdowns ” Sahlberg, Esquivel, Andrew Mazzini and Nick Myers.
Krull, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior guard, wasn’t shy in taking credit for the offensive production.
“The whole O-line studied hard this week,” he said. “We got it down in our heads, and we came out and took it to them. We have the best O-line in the state.”
And if the defense didn’t make a solid enough case for itself in the first half, it certainly did in the final two quarters when it allowed just four yards of total offense ” 18 rushes for 4 yards, and 0 of 4 passes with an interception.
As the Wolverine defense continued to stifle the Warriors in the second half, Truckee’s offense kept up its scoring pace.
After losing a fumble on their first possession of the third quarter, then turning the ball over on an interception the next possession, the Wolverines mounted a 70-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard TD run by Mazzini. Esquivel’s kick failed, keeping the score 27-7.
Mazzini, who played football his freshman year before skipping his sophomore and junior seasons, led the Wolverines in rushing with 106 yards on 9 carries.
Following a defensive stop and a nice punt return from Sahlberg to the Winters’ 25, Truckee put together a short scoring drive that ended when Esquivel ran through a giant hole into the end zone untouched for his second TD of the game. With the extra point successfully kicked through by Esquivel, Truckee built its lead to 34-7 with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Truckee scored one last time midway through the fourth quarter on a 2-yard leap into the end zone by Myers. After a missed extra point, the Wolverines led by the final score of 40-7.
Now it’s onto the Northern 3A, where the Wolverines will vie for a third consecutive state title.
“I told the kids we’re 0-0. Everybody is 0-0,” Shaffer said. “Every week people are gonna be knocking each other off. I think if we stay healthy we’ll be right in the mix of where we want to be when the dust settles.”
Truckee begins league play at Lowry on Friday. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Winters 7, Truckee 40
Winters 7 0 0 0
Truckee 14 7 13 6
T ” C. Esquivel 2 run (C. Esquivel kick)
W ” Lucero 89 run (Hedrick kick)
T ” Sahlberg 98 kickoff return (C. Esquivel kick)
T ” Sahlberg 5 run (C. Esquivel kick)
T ” Mazzini 10 run (kick failed)
T ” C. Esquivel 4 run (C. Esquivel kick)
T ” Myers 2 run (kick failed)
Rushing yards 38-155 37-291
Passing 3-12-2 7-14-1
Passing yards 15 87
Fumbles/Lost 3/1 4/2
Rushing: W ” Lucero 10-86; Miles 7-35; Hedrick 2-13; Smith 4-11; Campos 5-8; Karber 4-4; Silva 3-3; J. Lucero 3-(-5). T ” Mazzini 9-106; Sahlberg 6-47; C. Esquivel 7-44; Stewart 8-43; Allen 4-42; Myers 2-9; Carter 2-0.
Passing: W ” Miles 3-12-2-15; T ” Ballister 4-7-0-52; Carter 3-7-1-35.
Receiving: W ” Campos 1-11; J. Lucero 1-2; Binion 1-2. T ” Allen 5-47; Stewart 3-36; DePew 1-4.
Records: Winters 2-2; Truckee 2-2.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.