1980 5-4 (League 4-3) 3rd in the Butte View League
Dick Barrett is in his second year as head coach and is turning things around for the program going 5-4. This would be Truckee’s last season playing in California. Truckee was in a new
league for one year called the Butte View League which had 8 teams, and looks to include Colusa, Live Oak, Winters, Golden Sierra, Quincy, Wheatland, Truckee, and Sutter. Truckee started the year with 32 players but was hit by injuries and just 22 players suited up for the Wolverines most of the season. They battled through a tough schedule and just missed the playoffs. Bruce Estabrook was the center and one of the best defensive players in the State at defensive end. On the other side of Bruce was Brain Conston, a converted basketball player. Both Conston and Estabrook made it difficult for teams to get outside. Bruce remembers the NT game being very physical and North Tahoe was huge up front and was suppose to blow Truckee out but they were only up 13-7 at halftime. North Tahoe, however, wore Truckee down in the second half and ended up beating Truckee 13-24 to start the decade. During this game David Glenn Jr. #43, a running back for Truckee, was hit so hard he blacked out. He then asked Bruce to assist him to the huddle because he couldn’t see. Bruce picked him up and mentioned that maybe he should go out for a play. Glenn Jr. replied “I’ll be fine before the next play”, so Estabrook assisted him to the huddle and they played on. Truckee kids were tough and they still are. This team might have been one of the toughest suiting up 22 to start the season but more importantly 22 to finish the year. They didn’t get injured and played through things maybe they shouldn’t have. Truckee showed a lot of heart and determination in a game that always had a lot riding on it. “King of the Mountain” was always on the line. After handling Portola in week one 28-10 Truckee faced the toughest team in the league in North Tahoe. A Ken Dalton football team is always well coached and always had a larger roster than Truckee. Many players for Truckee were playing both ways and NT wore the Wolverines down in the end. The defeat to NT in week 2 had some lingering effects as Truckee lost two close games in a row.
In week 3 Truckee lost 6-13 to Wheatland and in week four lost to Colusa 22-27. Truckee had not played Colusa or Wheatland in a few years so it was back to a little tougher schedule. Wheatland marched out to their home crowd with 41 players on their roster but it wasn’t their size that beat Truckee. Truckee had 5 turnovers vs Wheatland and multiple person fouls defensively on 3rd and long, which lead to the league opener loss. The Wolverines did out gain Wheatland 284 yards to 173. In fact Truckee out gained their opponents all year in 1980. They had the number 4 ranked defense in Northern California. But timely turnovers and giving up big plays was their downfall all year. After starting the year 1-3 Truckee seemed to have played the toughest teams in the league to that point and went on a 4 game win streak and would cement a winning season for the improving Wolverines. This is Truckee’s first winning season since the mid 70’s.
During this win streak Truckee beat always tough, Quincy, 29-7. Then Truckee rattled off two shutouts, one vs Live Oak 26-0. The other shutout came against Sutter 44-0.
Sutter was established in 1893 and is a power house these days. Located in farm land West of Yuba City off highway 20 on the way to Colusa, Sutter has had recent success, but in 1980 Truckee dominated the Huskies in the snow at Surprise Stadium. The next week Truckee was able to keep their momentum rolling beating Golden Sierra 37-7 and setting up a chance for Truckee to make the post season. Bobby McPherson had one of the single best games a Wolverine has ever had. Number 32 carried the ball 14 times for 109 yards and 2 TD’s, Caught two passes for 13 yards one being a very key 1st down. McPherson had 9 tackles, an Interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and all 3 takeaways led to touchdowns. He also deflected a pass stopping a Golden Sierra Drive. Estabrook was also pointed out as having another dominate game upfront and recording 2 more QB sacks totaling 10 on the year going into the Winters game. The Winters game had playoff implications and again was a dog fight. If Truckee could do the unthinkable and beat the Warriors on their field, Truckee could actually make the playoffs. Winters was 8-0 and had not lost a game at home since 1974! Winter was also the Butte View Champions the past 3 seasons. So, Truckee was up against really tough odds. That didn’t stop the Wolverines from getting after the Winters. The Warriors would strike first as they won the coin toss and took the ball. Winters then broke out a trick playing having one player leaving the huddle as if they were headed to the sideline. However, that player stopped just short staying on the field of play and the Wolverines were fooled. Winters scored on a 40 yard pass play. Truckee didn’t let that discourage them and on the next possession would drive 63 yards for the score. The drive was capped off by a Glenn Jr. touchdown and an Estabrook PAT to give the Wolverines the lead. In the second quarter Truckee pounded the football on another long drive which was capped off by a Gebhardt QB sneak. The point after went wide and Truckee lead 13-6 and things were going in Truckee’s favor and they seemed to have the momentum going into halftime. But the undefeated Warriors had other plans as they completed another big pass play that scored from 40 yards out and made it a 13-12 game before the half and sparked the Warriors. In the second half Winters played inspired defense keeping Truckee in its own territory for much of the 3rd Quarter. Truckee finally was able to get a drive going and get past midfield but then turned the ball over. The Warriors took advantage going to the air again scoring on a 56 yard TD pass and taking a 19-13 lead. In the 4th quarter Winter popped a long run for an 82 yard run and things seemed to be in control for the Warriors. But the Wolverines were not done. Gebhardt led a 70 yard drive hitting Rodney Wells on a 34 yard pass and then a 12 yard pass to Donald Smith. Dennis Bright had a nice 14 yard mixed in to the passing plays and the Wolverines were back in the game when McPherson scored from 3 yards outs. Esabrook made the PAT and the score was 20-25 with 5 minutes to go. But in the end the Wolverines got wore down as the Winters’ ground attack was able to chew up a lot of clock before stalling out at the Wolverine 27 yard-line. Truckee could not cover the distance with just a minute left and Winters was able to keep their Home win streak alive and complete a 9-0 regular season. Winters’ coach, Jack Delbar, said after the game that, “Truckee’s the best team we played all season.”
In the record books, the 1980 season goes down as a mediocre 5-4 season and 3rd place in League. However, this was a very pivotal year for Truckee and would set the Landscape for the 80’s. Truckee was a bunch of tough Mountain Boys that never give in regardless of their Physical size, Roster size, or their Opponents size, or their Opponents reputation. The coaches had the community’s support and Truckee Football was developing into a program that was to be respected. The Butte View League was Truckee’s 3rd different division in 3 years and they seemed to just be out of place in the CIF. In the off-season Truckee became part of the NIAA. Bob Gebhardt was ranked 6th in Northern California in passing and was at the time was Truckee’s All-Time leading passer. In 1980 Gebhardt, known as the Golden boy, was 80-180 attempts for 1,163 yards and 12 TD’s. Gebhardt was a team captain along with Bruce Estabrook and Bob McPherson. McPherson was one of the North’s leading Backs. It sounds like if this team just had a couple other pieces they would have been a lot more competitive. Not a bad start to the 80’s.
19816-3 (5-2 League) 3rd in League
Truckee rejoins Nevada and would play in the AA. In Truckee’s beginning years they played in the Nevada single A up until 1960. Truckee was removed from the NIAA in 1961 and played in California for 20 years before returning in 1981. Many Nevadans I am sure wish we would have stayed in the CIF. In their first year back the Wolverines went 6-3 but just missed the playoffs as both Elko and Manogue beat Truckee in tough league games. It was the 3rd year that the new coaching staff was together and the program was running strong. In week one Truckee rolled Portola for the second year in a row 47-13.
In week 2 Truckee played Whittell at Whittell and Truckee was beat in a close game 6-12. Then in week 3 the Wolverines got things rolling over Fernley 34-6. This was the first time the two teams ever played and they developed bad blood from the start and it still exists today. Then Truckee took on a very strong Yerington team and the Wolverines pulled out an upset beating the Lions 19-7. Pretty impressive considering Yerington won the State Championship in 81 beating Manogue. The following week the Wolverines faced Manogue for the first time since 1959 when Truckee beat the Minors for the first time. The two teams developed a little rivalry in the 50’s and that was picked up right where it left off. Unfortunately in 1981 Truckee lost in a close game 21-26. Then Truckee faced the defending State Champions, Elko. Elko and Fallon were both a level above Truckee in the 50’s. And while Truckee and Fallon played multiple times, Elko was on Truckee’s schedule for the first time. In another close game Truckee lost to Elko 0-7 and would now struggle to get into the playoffs. The biggest win of the year came on a 4th quarter comeback against Lowry to win 32-28. As many had given up hope, Truckee scored in the last seconds of the game to take the league victory.
Truckee beat Incline 21-6 the last game of the year. This was the first matchup between the two teams even though they were always close in proximity. The 1981 football team would suit up 30 players. Truckee was mostly a ground attack, which featured Kym Milisci, Dennis Bright and David Glenn running the ball. Bright was recognized by his former teammate, Jerry Bellon, as being the biggest stud on the team. Both Bright and Glenn shared success as juniors the previous year, so it is not surprising that they continued that in 81. Also representing senior leadership was captain Brian Arney who led the defense. Truckee’s offense was pretty balanced as they rushed for 1,529 yards and passed for 1,277 led by senior QB Jerry Sassarini. The Truckee defense was stout as they held all opponents to an average 153 yards per game. Truckee shut out NT 15-0. The JV team won a League Championship going 7-2.
North Tahoe had won 6 straight up to this point so it was a big win for Truckee. In fact the Wolverines had only beat NT one other time since the schools split in 1974. Truckee is on its way back up after struggling in the mid 70’s and the opening of North Tahoe High. Also this would be Ken Dalton’s last year as North Tahoe’s coach.
Dalton headed down the hill to Reno where he would take over another new program at McQueen when the school first opened. Dalton would go on to win 235 games at McQueen just 15 games shy of Joe Sellers as the all time leader in Nevada. Dalton retired after winning his 6th State Championship in 2008. He coached for 35 years between North Tahoe and McQueen. Coach Dalton passed away January 3rd 2013. He is a high school coaching legend and though a Truckee nemesis in the 70’s the Truckee program has a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Dalton and everything he did for both the North Tahoe community and the McQueen community.
1982 8-3 (5-2 2nd in League) Nevada AA State Runner Up
The third time is a charm as the Wolverines dawn the Truckee sticker designed by coach Barrett. Truckee many years later is still representing the simplistic Truckee decal. I guess you can say that this one finally stuck. Also, for the second year in a Truckee’s JV team won a League title going 6-3. It came down to the last game of the year vs Incline and the JV’s were able to pull out the win and the Title beating Incline 24-12. At the Varsity level it was Truckee’s second year in the Nevada AA and they posted an 8-3 record, go to the playoffs, and earn themselves a trip to the State Championship. As far as I can tell this is Truckee’s first appearance ever in the post season. The 1982 team really put Truckee on the map in the Nevada AA. The Wolverines were used to getting maybe 1-3 players on an All-League team. In 1982 Truckee had 11 first Team All-League selections. Clearly this was a team with not only the usual Truckee toughness but also a team loaded with talent. Combine this toughness and talent with good coaching and you usually, in Truckee, make a trip to the Championship. This is the story of the 1982 Wolverines.
For the first time in many years the expectations were high in Truckee. The previous year the Wolverines had very close games with Elko (the defending State Champs), Manogue (played for the 81 Championship), and they beat Yerington who the Championship in 1981. Truckee lost some good players, as we always do, but they were bringing back a very strong senior class and remember the JV team won the division. Truckee would also have a coaching continuity they were benefitting from as the 1982 coaching staff was now on their 4th year in a row. Coach Barrett had the respect of the Division as he was the League’s coach of the year. Coach Adair of Incline told the papers that no team was better prepared than Truckee. Brolliar had earned himself the nickname the “MasterMind” of the game as he produced 1,200 yard passers for 3 years straight. His offense was always well balanced. In 82′ it was no different. The next QB up was number 16 Daren Rudicel. Rudicel had very limited experience as watched senior Jerry Sassarini run Brolliar’s offense. That didn’t seem to phase Daren as he put in the best season a Truckee QB had ever had to this point. He passed for 1,353 yards, 13 TD’s, and had just 7 INT’s in 189 attempts. He was the League’s offensive MVP. He had help from targets like Tommy Hall who was a 1st Team slot WR and Brian Smith who was a 2nd team All-League WR. As stated before a Brolliar offense was well balanced and while Rudicel had a great season passing the ball it would not have been as successful had it not been for a strong running game. Rudicel had 12 rushing TD’s himself but the ground attack was lead by 1st team All-League selection, Rob Buccieri, who also was on the All-State team was a senior captain and leader of the team. And of course a successful ground attack always starts up front. Anchoring the O-Line was senior Guard and All-League selection Teddy Raber, the last of the Raber Boys. Rex Bergsma and Alroy Waters were second team All-League O-linmen also helping the push upfront. With all of the success the Offense had it could not over shadow that Truckee Defense.
Truckee’s defense in 82′ was very strong only allowing opponents to 159 yards per game. They had two shutouts and three other games when their opponents score 6, 8, and only 2 points, giving up just 10 points a game. Truckee had 7 first team All-League selection on defense. Every player up front was on the first team All-League team: Alroy Water DE, John Ennis DE, Rex Bergsma DT, and Darryel Higginbothem. At linebacker for Truckee was Teddy Raber who recorded 121 tackles which ranks 9th All-Time in Truckee history. In the secondary both Tommy Hall and Brian Smith were first team selections at Defensive Back. Not bad having 7 out of 11 spots. Needless to say this team was loaded on both sides of the ball. The Wolverines started the season off on the road shutting out Portola 20-0. This would be the 3rd year in a row Truckee would not only beat Portola but they would dominate them. What was once a rivalry from the old Feather River League was becoming an easy win for Truckee.
In week 2 Truckee would return the favor from one year prior beating Whittell 34-6. The game was much closer in 81′ but Truckee was ready for the Warriors and I’m sure hadn’t forgot the close loss to Whittell in the previous year. The next week Truckee would face Fernely for the second time in their history and would beat them convincingly 40-12. Truckee was 3-0 to start the season but, then Truckee would have to travel to Yerington. The Lions were the defending State Champs and hadn’t forgot that Truckee took them down the previous year. Yerington is always tough, get them at home with some revenge factor and they are real hard to beat. The Wolverines, being undefeated, might have been overlooking the Lions. Truckee fought hard in a close game but in the end would fall short 21-28. Lion team. This is senior Robert Bucceri’s take on the Yerington game:
We were super confident going in. Yerington had a really good linebacker and a running back that was small but super- fast. They had a HUGE nose guard, 300 plus pounds. They were a good football team, but as you noted on the web piece, we were close the year before and we really felt confident going into this game. Yerington’s program and Elko were the two big dogs in Nevada when we arrived. Yerington had won the Championship and Elko had a winning streak. Not sure how long it was, but I remember everyone yacking about their win streak of a couple years or something. How they had that and Yerington won the Championship the previous year.
Anyway, we played them at home in ’81 so in ’82 it was off to Yerington. The game was a Friday night game. One thing I absolutely remember, clear as a bell – the entire officiating crew did not show up. I’m not sure we ever got a real explanation, although Barrett may have, but they literally pulled a guy out of the crowd, a young guy, early 20’s and he was an official for the game. 30 years later, I cannot answer why they didn’t go with a skeleton crew, why Barrett didn’t insist on such – I don’t know. Why is this a big deal? Well, it eliminated a touchdown. Partially. The play call was a 72 cut back. Pretty simple really, from an I – formation I stepped left, got the handoff and broke right off the center’s butt between center and right guard. A really simple play that was a staple for us that year.
Brolliar came up with this scheme in his driver’s ed class. ( He taught driver’s ed and would tell everybody to read chapter whatever and then he would draw up plays. There is actually a picture of this in our senior yearbook…..I’m sitting next to Brolliar at his desk, his students reading, and he’s showing me plays he drew up. Brolliar came up with this 70 series of plays at the beginning of that season. We had never run them before.
I ran the cut-back, it was blocked beautifully, Raber hit their stud linebacker, I broke to the sideline and it was a footrace to the end zone. 40 yd. Touchdown. As I was walking back to the sideline, Brolliar was furious. He looks at me and says, “did you score?” I looked at him like, “where the hell have you been?” I said, “yes” He said, “dang it” and pointed at a flag on the other side of the field. The receiver on the opposite side, Brian Peoples, blocked the corner in the back. According to Brolliar there was no reason to even hit the guy, forget about a block in the back.
So I say partially as to eliminating the TD. According to Brolliar, he saw the whole thing, it was opposite side, no effect on the play, but it was an illegal block. Then a picked off a Yerington street official, of course, threw a flag. A local yocal from the town of Yerington.
We lost the game by a touchdown. Spilled milk but we were pretty disappointed. I remember walking into the locker room with Brolliar and Brian Smith – Louden’s dad. Brian said, “there goes our undefeated season.” I responded, “it’s one freaking game. This thing is far from over.” Brolliar jumped on that and started preaching that it was one game, don’t get your heads down, the season is young etc. And he was right. We played well enough to win and the season was young.
That is crazy that they pulled a ref out of the stands. Unheard of but then again nothing surprises me. Like Rob said the NIAA officiating crew should have gone with who was there. You don’t pull people out of the stands. Then you put him on the home sidelines? Regardless of what happened Truckee lost the game and would have to get over it in a hurry as the Manogue game was up next.
Heading into League play, Truckee has never been stronger but they were about to face a very proud and successful program in Manogue. Manogue had been beat the previous year in the State Game and was a very Hungary team. In fact Manogue had not given up a score to any Nevada AA school going into the Truckee game. Truckee was able to score on Manogue and break a 3 game shutout streak. However, Manogue beat Truckee in a tough game 7-17. Truckee was quickly 3-2 after playing two of the top programs in the AA. But then the Wolverines would get things rolling again beating Lowry 15-8 at Winnemucca. The following week they would have arch rival, North Tahoe, at home. For the second straight year Truckee shut North Tahoe out 15-0. In the last game of the year Truckee handled Incline 35-2 and was riding some momentum into the playoffs.
Because Truckee lost to Manogue they were a two seed meaning they would have to travel South for the first round of the playoffs. The Wolverines would fly to Las Vegas and then bus North to Overton Nevada to face the Moapa Valley Pirates. I guess you can say that the rivalry of these two programs started on November 13, 1982. It was a business trip for the Wolverines as they did not let their playoffs inexperience phase their goal to make it to the Championship. The focussed Wolverines battled in a close game with the Pirates and would prevail 19-13 earning them a rematch with the Manogue Minors who had only given up
21 points all year. In a knock down drag out game, they lost to Bishop Manogue by one point 13-14. This was the game that the Minor Miracle was born. Jim Doughty was a senior in 1982 at Manogue and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the State. He is currently a coach at Truckee and has been since the fall of 2003. This is Jim’s perspective of the Minor Miracle:
I had to go back and check, because I didn’t remember Truckee joining the league until my senior year, which was fall of 1982, but Truckee’s first year in the league was the season of ’81 and that was a tight game as well with the final score being 26-22 Manogue, so it seems the rivalry started in the first year and grew from there.
The first Truckee vs. Manogue game of the 1982 season came in the 5th game of the season and Manogue had three consecutive shutouts. Truckee became the first Nevada 2A school to score on Manogue (Fernley was the only other team in the league to score on Manogue that year – 6 points in a 45-6 game). Again, it was a hard fought game with Manogue winning 17-7.
The only memories I have of this game are not printable, but I would be happy to share them with you over drinks and wings some time.
The State Championship game in 1982 featured a rematch of Truckee vs. Manogue and went a little bit differently. Truckee had their number one running back Kym Milisci healthy for this game. My recollection is that he had a severe ankle injury in the middle of the season and this may have been the only game he played in the second half of the season. I do remember defensively we thought this would make a big difference because he added a dimension on offense in addition to Tom Hall (wing back/receiver) and Daren Rudicel (QB). The game is somewhat of a blur to me. I know we struggled defensively and Truckee seemed to move the ball very effectively in the first half. If I remember correctly, they scored all of their 13 points in the first half. Unfortunately, for me I had someone roll up on my knee while making a tackle with about 2 minutes left to go in the half, I tried to go, but my knee was gone, ended up in a cast for 6 weeks and my day was done. I don’t remember how Truckee missed one of their extra points, but obviously that was a huge play. Going in at half up 13-0, I’m sure they were very confident. Manogue was a veer option team. IF we threw it 4 times a game it was a surprise. The 3rd quarter passed with the teams changing possessions, but no scoring. In fact, it seemed like a field possession battle right until the end. With about 2 & _ minutes left in the game. Manogue held Truckee for a 3 & out inside their own 10 and Truckee was forced to punt out of their own end zone. I’ve talked to some Locals who thought Truckee should have taken the safety and they had the free kick and wouldn’t have given up the great field position to Manogue…hindsight. Anyway, Manogue got the ball on about the 35 or so and proceeded to score with about 2 minutes or less to go. One thing that most people don’t know is that up until about the 7th game of the season, our quarterback-Brian Kaskie-who went on to play at UNR, was the holder on extra points and I snapped. That is until one day in practice our kicker kicked Brian’s index finger on his throwing hand and broke it. He played with his broken fingers taped together for the rest of the year and I became the holder. So now we had to adjust to Brain taking the snap and holding again, with his broken finger etc., but the kick went through and the score was 13-7. Manogue obviously tried the onside kick, but Truckee recovered and for all intents and purposes most people thought the game was over because even with timeouts and everything, if Truckee gave the ball back to Manogue there would be very little time left on the clock. As a high school senior, I wasn’t thinking like a coach, so I’m not sure if taking a knee would have helped. I think Truckee’s coach felt like, if I we get one first down it’s definitely over. So they handed the ball to Milisci and ran an off tackle play, pretty safe, but he got through the hole and bounced outside a little and our corner-Craig Burkett-who was about 6’4” 190 and would get a full-ride to UNR for football, came in from the outside and Milisci had the ball in his outside arm as he bounced that way. Craig just essentially tackled the ball and spun out from the tackle and to everyone’s surprise had the ball. He was tackled and Manogue had the ball with less than a minute to go on about the 40 going in. I know we had at least one timeout left because we got the ball down to about the 25 and had to call it. Like I said we didn’t throw the ball very much at all and it seems like they were almost drawing a play up in the huddle during the timeout. One of our kids, our offensive guard, was hyperventilating. There couldn’t have been more than 10 seconds on the clock and it was going to be the last play. I don’t know if Truckee was in a 2 deep or cover 4, but we dropped back and Kaskie threaded the needle between 2 DB’s on a skinny post to a receiver named Chris Scott, really one of our basketball stars, who decided to play football for the first time in this his senior season. Now the score was tied at 13 no time on the clock and the only extra point left. Another quick anecdote, we had a typical special teams walk-through on Friday, but we also had a major special teams session on our Thursday practice, that was our routine. The head coach Tom Rippee(There were 3 Rippee Brothers that coached in the Reno area) was a pretty old school yeller and screamer. In our Thursday special teams period, we did the typical extra point, then move the ball back and from hash to hash for longer field goals routine. Our Junior kicker was so bad in these, that Rippee chewed our ass and kicked the whole team off the field. So now it’s down to that same kicker and no time on the clock for the State Championship and he splits the uprights. That was what’s known now as the Miner Miracle, scoring 14 in the last 2 minutes of the State Championship game to win.
That is what I remember, I’m not sure if I have the Truckee names right, but I’m sure you can check those. Again, I’m sorry it took so long. But let me know if you want or need anything else.
A great and very detailed explanation of what is known as the Minor Miracle. It no doubt is a part of Manogue history but also a bitter part of Truckee history. It sounds like if things would have gone just slightly different then the 1982-83 teams would have been Truckee’s first Back to Back Champions. Ironically Jim Doughty was the Defensive Coordinator for Truckee’s first Back to Back titles in 2004 and 2005. I’ve been coaching with Jim since 2003 and it has been a great honor. Though he is a true Minor he now bleeds RED! The shut out of North Tahoe’s in 82′ proved to be a big hit for a proud program and they were struggling without Ken Dalton. JD Deschler took over the North Tahoe program after coaching with Dalton for years. JD battled through the changes at NT but they were just coming up short. This was Dick Barrett’s last season at Truckee. His Record was 25-14 giving him the best winning percentage in Truckee history for a coach who coached more than 1 year up to that point. Barrett coached four seasons, was 2 and 2 against NT, was coach of the year in 82, but came up 3 minutes short of his Championship. These are Coach Barrett’s thoughts about his time at Truckee and in particular the 1982 season:
“In 1982, we went 8-3, again beating
North Tahoe, but losing the title game to Manouque in a contest well
documented in your web site. That Doughty kid was a fine player.
I was one of his coaches in the Sertoma All-Star game. We probably
should have taken a safety near the end, but who knows if that would
have changed the outcome? It’s easy to second guess after the fact,
but it was my responsibility. It was my 4th year as a head coach. I
was probably better later on. Something people maybe didn’t realize
was that we had about 9 or 10 guys going both ways, while I don’t
think Manougue had any guys (maybe one or two) going both ways. We
played our hearts out, leading a great undefeated team, 13-0 with 2:50
left in the game, but we just ran out of steam. Remember also, that
we were just a group of 30 or so kids from Truckee, and Manougue was a
private school–kids could attend from all over Reno.That was a great
bunch of kids-I love them all to this day. I still hear from some of
them, but would like to reconnect with more of them. I went to their
20 year class reunion years ago. I think the most fun we had in that
season was the play-off game in Moapa Valley. I raised $9,000 in 3
days–the Truckee community was awesome, and we flew from Reno to Las
Vegas in a commercial jet; the first time in a plane for many of our
kids. We stayed in a hotel in Vegas, then the hour plus bus ride out
to Overton to play Moapa Valley, who had only one loss on the year.
We were heavy underdogs. The game was played at 1pm, an advantage for
us because we played most of our games during the day. They had
played all night games. Anyway, we were ahead, 19-0 at the half, and
held on to win, 19-13. Charlie Rudicel, our booster president, gave
me ten bucks for each player, coach and cheerleaders. That paid for 3
meals at the Circus Circus, so that was our meal money! When we
arrived at the Reno Airport, we had a huge crowd from Truckee to meet
us. That was quite a moment–plus town social functions later in the
After that year, I set my sights on coaching at the college level. I
spent most of the 1983-84 school year on this job search. What a
blast to see Truckee win it all that year over Elko there in the snow.
I was so happy for the players and coaches (Dave Brolliar was head
coach). I was doing the radio broadcast of that game, so I had a good
The next two seasons (’84 and ’85) I was the offensive coordinator up
at Eastern Oregon State Univ. in La Grande Oregon. Then, I went to be
the Head Coach at Lompoc High School in Lompoc, Ca. They had a rich
history in football, but no CIF Championships–always had to play
tough teams from LA in the play-offs. I was there from 1986 to 2008
(retired then), serving as Head Coach from 1986-1990. I stepped down
then to be with a new wife and raise a family (two daughters). I
still helped out at lower levels, Athletic Director a few years, etc.
In fact, I’m teaching a couple of Health classes for them this
year–having a blast! Anyway, during my five-year tenure, we won 3
league championships, finished runner-up for the CIF Title in 1989
(lost to Serra, 34-31, our only loss), and won it all for the first
time in the school’s history in 1990. My last two years, we went 26-2!
In 1989, I had P/PK Tommy Thomson, who was P/PK at Univ. of Oregon,
then punted for 3 years for the 49ers (with Rice and Young, etc.). and
RB Napoleon Kaufman was a Jr. He was an All-American at Univ. of
Washington, played in 2 Rose Bowls, was chosen 18th in the first round
of the NFL draft, had a fine career. I also was named to coach
in the North- South State All-Star game played in the Rose Bowl.
But I will always remember the great people in Truckee. What a great
experience in my first head coaching job. The kids have gone on and
done great in life. I couldn’t be prouder! I loved being a Truckee
Thanks coach Barrett for taking the time to include your thoughts and memories of your time in Truckee. We appreciate you being a part of our great Tradition.
1983 8-3 (4-1 League) League Champs Nevada AA State Champions
The Truckee coaching staff had been together the past 4 years at both levels and the Wolverines had built a successful program with plenty of continuity. Dick Barrett and his staff did a great job rebuilding Truckee’s program and turning things around. Truckee had fallen to NT 6 straight years but Barrett and Brolliar were able to turn that around along with their league record. Truckee was also able to get their players up for All-League honors, something Truckee was not able to do consistently since they left the Nevada A in 1960. The remarkable part is that this staff was successful both in the CIF and NIAA. But most Truckee head coaches did not stick around long and Barrett moved on, opening the door for offensive Coordinator Dave Brolliar. Brolliar was a great play caller and proved to be one of the best over his years under Barrett. He produced 1,200 yard passers year after year. Combined that with a consistent ground attack and you have one heck of a balanced offense. That is what made Brolliar so great. He was unpredictable and was great at picking apart the weakness of his opponent. I remember during my playing days (90&91) coach Collins, who was on the Truckee JV staff during Brolliar’s time at Truckee, would talk very highly of coach Brolliar. He would tell me if I was out of position at any point during the game that Brolliar will find me and attack. I remember hearing this over and over from coach Collins, which actually helped me during games. Brolliar graduated from San Francisco State where he played four years of football as a Linebacker and Defensive Back. He got his first head coaching job at San Mateo High School 1975 and took his team to a 10-0 record. He was the coach of the year in the League and Region. He spent two more seasons at San Mateo and had a record of 17-10. He then traveled up to the Sierras and became the head coach of the Incline Highlanders. In his one and only year coaching at Inline he was 5-4. Brolliar didn’t like the fit at Incline and made his way to Truckee where he spent four years under Barrett. With Barrett moving on from Truckee it opened the door for Brolliar to become Truckee’s 13th head coach. As expected he did a heck of job bringing home Truckee’s first State Championship. This is the story of the 1983 Wolverines.
The Wolverines were coming off the best year in their history. Many players from the 82 team made All-League and All-State and quite a few of those guys were seniors. Truckee lost a lot of talent to graduation and Brolliar and his new coaching staff were turning their wheels on how to be successful in the 1983 season. Brolliar being an Offensive coach knew he lost a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball and stated to the Sierra Sun that the focus in 1983 will be to play tough Defense, use the kicking game for field position, and control the ball on offense. He knew he could do this because the players that were coming back from the 82 team were guys that played on the offensive and defensive lines. Alroy Waters was an All-State guard along with John Ennis who was a second team All-League guard. In addition was Andy Smith a center, Herb Hodges Tackle, Jesus Avila Tackle, and John Francis at Tight End. They did not have much size up front but they made up for it in tenacity and strength. Running behind this line were seniors Pat Callahan and JC Bright. Add junior Rick Neptune to the mix and you had one heck of a backfield. But it was the QB spot that was in question going into the season. Brolliar for the past 4 years had QB after QB step up and be his guy. The 1983 season was different. There was not a clear cut guy going into the season and for the first time in years there was going to be a QB battle between Mark Bilstein and Pat Callahan. However, an early knee injury to Callahan during two-a-day practices put him on the shelf and opened the door for Bilstein. Bilstein assumed the QB position and didn’t look back. Mark was not a pure passer like guys before him. Brolliar knew this and that is why he knew the ground attack and good defense would be a must. This leads me to the Defense.
The 1983 Defense was one heck of a Defense. Unfortunately just about every starter that I listed above on offense was also on the Truckee Defense which was a major issue going into the season. Depth was not on the Wolverine’s side. The Defensive Ends were also the starting Guards, Alroy Waters and John Ennis. The defensive tackles were Herb Hodges and JC Bright at the Nose Guard. The other tackle was shared between Bret Churchman, Jesus Avila, and Mark McClintock who had not played football since his freshman year. At Outside Linebacker was Andy Smith and Rick Neptune. The middle Linebacker was Todd Tamietti. The defensive backfield was full of experience and was a strength of the defense. Brian Smith lead the way at safety along with John Francis at Strong Safety. The two corners were Mark Bilstein and Pat Callahan. So, if you are counting that is 9 players going both ways to start the season. Needless to say the Wolverines would have to stay injury free in their new division.
There was a realignment in 1983 and Truckee’s league changed. Though they would still play power houses Elko and Manogue, who between the two won 3 out of the last four Championships, they were no longer in Truckee’s league. This was a huge factor in Truckee’s ability to get into the postseason. Truckee’s league would now consist of Incline, North Tahoe, Hawthorne, Whittell, and Yerington. So, with the scrimmage vs Colfax complete Truckee was ready to start the season.
First up was a home game vs Portola which was becoming a yearly ritual. Though the score doesn’t show it, the game was really close. The score was 0-0 until midway through the 3rd quarter. The game was littered with flags most of the day killing drives and keeping the Tigers in the game. But after two Callahan touchdowns Truckee was able to take control of the game. Bilstein then hit Francis on a 24yd TD to make the score 21-0. With some meaningless scores late the Wolverines would take down the Tigers for the 3rd year straight 27-6. The second game of the year was the long bus ride out to Elko. Truckee, according to Brolliar, was a bit overwhelmed with the whole Elko production. Traveling to Elko in the early 80’s to play the Indians was not a pleasant experience and could be quite intimidating. The crowd used to be pretty hostile and the team had to walk out between the stands where things were thrown at the players. The band was huge, loud, and really added to the whole experience. Add a very physical and always discipline Elko team to this production and opposing teams were at a disadvantage. Brolliar told the Sierra Sun, “it is like the Christians going against the lions when you play in Elko. …You have to be there to understand what it is like….” Considering the circumstances Truckee battled and played tough. With the exception of some breakdowns in Punt coverage the Wolverines held Elko in check holding them to 3 points with just a short period of time left in the 2nd quarter. But Elko would tack another score on right before the half and take a 9-0 lead into the locker room. The second half was much like the first with both teams struggling to move the ball. But Elko’s defense was just too strong. Midway through the 3rd quarter Bilstein dropped back to pass and had a wide open receiver but was sacked, fumbled, and it was picked up by the Indians and ran down to Truckee’s 16 yard line. It lead to Elko’s final score. Truckee had just 128 total yards and could just not get their run game going and they were shutout 0-16.
The next week Truckee would be home vs Incline who the past couple years was a doormat for Truckee and many other teams in the league. Incline had already lost to Manogue and Lowry and now had to face the Wolverines at home. The Wolverines, like Elko, had a home field advantage of their own. The 83 team was the first team to walk down the Surprise Stadium stairs to music but it wasn’t to “TnT”. It was to George Thorogood’s “Bad to The Bone” which Truckee came out to in 83 and 84. But Incline wouldn’t let any of that bother them. Truckee was still feeling the effects of the Elko loss the week before and could not get in rhythm on offense. Early in the first quarter Incline forced a fumble and recovered it at Truckee’s 15. The Highlanders would strike first and make it 0-6 early. But then Truckee would take over dominating on both sides of the ball, but Truckee could not capitalized and would go in at halftime down 0-6. Brolliar did not feel any adjustments were needed and told his team that they just need to eliminate the mistakes. But Truckee muffed a punt early in the 3rd quarter which would lead to an Incline 0-9. Truckee dominated the rest of the game but could only muster 8 points. The Wolverines had the momentum and just could not finish drives do to mistakes and penalties. Rick Neptune would give the Wolverine fans just a little taste of what was to come in the near future. He rambled off 93 yards on 21 carries and a TD. Truckee would dominate the stats with total 252 yards to just 87 yards for Incline. But the only stat that really counts is the score and Incline would upset the Wolverines 8-9. Truckee now 1-2 and 0-1 in league was quickly looking at a tough road if they were to make the playoffs and wasn’t going to get easier as Truckee would have to travel to the defending State Champs the following week. The Manogue Minors were ranked number one in the State of Nevada. The Wolverines would give the Minor’s all they can handle and actually took a 6-0 lead into halftime. But Manogue doubled every other school’s roster and had over 50 players. Manogue was one of very few high school teams who could go 100% two-platoon and that would grind down the Wolverines in the second half. Truckee again would struggled on offense and other than the Bilstein to Brian Smith 35 yard touchdown pass, Truckee would not do much. Truckee lost their 3rd game in a row and any shot at the playoffs was looking slim. If there was ever a time Truckee needed a little time off it was now.
Truckee would get that time off and would get a win without ever stepping on the field. In 1983 Truckee beat NT 2-0 in a forfeit. It turns out that a handful of the North Tahoe players were drinking beer on the bus ride home from their 30-0 victory over Yerington. There has been a lot of rumors surrounding this story over the years. Rumors that would include a program cancellation and that coaches were also part of the drinking. Those are all false. The story reads that North Tahoe’s head coach, John Deschler, was notified by some of his players about the incident. Coach Deschler then went to the principal, Wayne Scholl, and Scholl acted. The suspension was originally going to be the rest of the season but upon getting more information and meeting with the players Mr. Scholl knocked it down to a one game suspension for all levels. It was to be North Tahoe’s Homecoming. The “Little Big Game” was cancelled but it goes down in the books as a 2-0 Truckee victory. Truckee not only gets its 3rd straight win over NT but gets its 3rd straight shutout. Obviously both communities were disappointed but this would give Truckee two weeks to prepare for their next opponent Hawthorne. And though the Wolverines started out the year 1-3 they knew if they could get on track and win out, they would still make the playoffs. So, with exception to the Incline debacle, the reality is that Truckee had already played the two best teams in the State. Though they would lose, they played tough and were in both of those games. The players were presented an option by the coaching staff to play a practice game against Quincy in place of the North Tahoe game. The coaches let the players vote on in. Credit to the team they voted and decided to not go through with the practice game. The coaches were disappointed thinking they could use the experience but the players chose rest and practice reps to get better. Their decision changed the outcome of their season. The extra week gave Truckee the extra time they needed to heal and get right. Another very key thing took place during the extra time off. Coach Curtis gave junior John Adams a shot on the starting O-line. Adams had been killing it in practice, according to Mark McClintock, and earned himself a spot on the starting Offense. The change strengthened an already strong O-line and it was all about to payoff. When Hawthorne would come to town the Truckee fans would witness one of the most dominating performances a single player would ever have at Surprise Stadium largely due to the change up front.
October 15th, 1983 is Truckee’s Homecoming. The Sierra Sun Reads, “Neptune Runs Wild In Big Homecoming win.” Teammate, Mark McClintock had this to say about Neptune’s day in Surprise Stadium, “Rick’s performance against Hawthorne was definitely one for the ages and it turned our season around. He had over 350total yards in that game, 203 rushing yards. He even had an 85 yard kick off return for a TD. He totally dominated that game. On a side note I remember him telling me his dad, who did not live in Truckee, was in the stands for that game. I told Rick during pre-game, “Turn it up a notch for your dad”. Neptune took McClintock’s advice as he exploded in the first half rattling off touchdowns runs of 19, 61, and 50 yards. He also had a 45 TD reception and was responsible for every Truckee score in the first half. The Wolverines went in at halftime with a 28-0 lead. The Hawthorne Serpents would not be help down as they got a big play early in the 3rd quarter to pull within 22 points but on the ensuing kickoff Neptune would rumble 85 yards for his 5th touchdown of the game and cement the victory. In a post game interview Brolliar, about his halfback’s performance, had this to say “I’ve talked to some people who go way back with Truckee Football and they say they can’t remember when a back had a day like Rick had.” What makes it
more impressive is that Neptune did most of it in just one half as he was put on the shelf after the Kickoff return for a touchdown. As far as the research goes Rick Neptune was the first Truckee player to score 5 TD’s in a game. Since 1983 only 3 players have been able to accomplish this, Dustin Pugh, Damien Fertitta, and James Van Brunt who did it twice. McClintock after the game approached Neptune and asked “Rick what do you think your dad thought of that performance”. A very emotional Neptune on the verge of tears and red eyes could only look at McClintock and smile. The 56-6 win put Truckee at 2-1 in league and they were in control of their own destiny. A bit over shadowed by Rick’s performance was coach Curtis’ defensive effort who held Hawthorne to just 31 total yards. Truckee had 7 sacks, 3 interceptions and were unchallenged. Truckee would now look forward to their home matchup with Whittell who was tied for first place with North Tahoe.
Truckee beats first place Whittel 37-20. It was the most points Truckee had given up all year and Brolliar was not pleased after the game stating that it was a lethargic effort. But from what I read one of Whittel’s scores was a defensive TD at the end of the game. Whittel only had 162 yards and Truckee blocked two punts that would lead to scores and the Defense would also get a sack for a safety which was set up by a very good Bilstein punt. Truckee rolled up 239 rushing yards and 175 of those were again Rick Neptune’s as he put together another nice performance. As far as I can tell Truckee is playing exactly how the coaching staff predicted in the preseason. They are playing very good defense giving their offense opportunities. The kicking game is complimenting that defense giving the Wolverines good field position and the offense is pounding the football with that tough offensive line and an emerging Rick Neptune. Truckee soundly beat the first place team Whittel and looks to keep things rolling in a non-conference game vs Lowry the following week.
Lowry came into Truckee riding a 6-2 record having beat a very good North Tahoe team. Truckee was going to be challenged and they needed more than ever to keep their momentum rolling. The Buckaroos came out of the locker room ready to go and to the site of the spectators was impressive both in size and in their pre-game ritual. Needless to say the Truckee faithful were a bit nervous. But those nerves were settled as the Wolverines approached the top of the stairs and across Surprised Stadium echoed the guitar intro to George Therogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” Game over! Lowry should have loaded up the bus before the game even started. After the game, unlike the week before when Brolliar was down on his team, the coach praised his team stating, “That is about as perfect as a game we can play. We have now reached a performance plateau which we want to maintain. We got great efforts form both our defense and offense as well as our special teams. We only had a couple breakdowns all day. It had to be one of the best games we’ve played since I’ve been here.” One of Truckee’s weak spots of the day came early as the Buckaroos forced the Wolverines to punt. Bilstein with a good punt pinned Lowry inside the 20 at their own 14 yard line. Then Lowry would drive down to Truckee’s 4 yard line before coming up empty on a 4th down pass play. The goal line stand would fire up Truckee and they dominated the rest of the game. The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie but it was all Truckee for the next 3 quarters. Behind another stout defensive effort Truckee would feed Neptune the ball and he would rush for 100 yards or more for the 3rd game in a row producing 103 yards on 21 carries and another 2 TD’s. Callahan coming off injury also ran the ball well and proving his big play capabilities rushing for 89 yards on just 4 carries. He also had 4 receptions for 31 yards. Truckee amassed 327 yards to Lowry’s 128 and took down the Buckaroos 35-0 in front of their home crowd. Truckee after going 1-3 was now on a 4 game win streak including the NT forfeit and they were hitting on all cylinders. Truckee was peaking at the right time and they would now need a win the following week in Yerington.
Yerington is always a tough place to play and Truckee, at the time, was not a good night team. Brolliar stated in the papers the week before the Yerington game that, “we can’t take Yerington lightly. The division title and playoff spot is on the line and both squads know that. On top of that we are not a great night team. We haven’t won a night game in the five year’s that I’ve been at Truckee.” The Yerington Lions had a lot of pride and were continders for the championship in recent years but in 83 they were 1-7 and Truckee was rolling. Though Yerington would like nothing more than to knock off Truckee’s playoff hopes, the Wolverines were not going to be denied. They were playing the best football they have ever played and Yerington was not going to get in their way…not on this night! The Wolverines came out swinging and scored the first 3 touchdowns and took a early 20-0 lead. The Lions were expected to quit but they didn’t and fought back putting up a score of their own making it a 20-7 contest. But the little fight Yerington had left only fired up Truckee even more and the Wolverines rolled off another 3 unanswered touchdowns. Truckee got the win 39-7 and continued their dominance in all 3 facets of the game. Neptune continued his 100 yard game streak at 4 with 21 carries for 163 yards rushing and another 2 TD’s. Neptune would now have 772 yards and 12 TD’s in just 5 1/2 games. As good as night as Neptune had it was Bilstein who stepped up his game completing 8-11 passes for 100 yards and a TD. The Truckee offense had consistently been running the ball with great success but Bilstein was starting to assert himself now into the game plan. With the win Truckee won the League Championship and guaranteed themselves a home playoff game. Truckee who is now on a 5 game winning streak would wait to see the results of the Manogue at Elko game to see who they would face in the first round.
Manogue, the number one ranked team in Nevada traveled to Elko with an undefeated record. Elko was not phased by Manogue nor their ranking and would upset the Minors 14-10. Just like that Manogue backed into the playoffs as a 2nd seed. Manogue would now have to travel to Truckee to face the Wolverines in their den. With the Minor Miracle still lingering in the minds of the Town and players, Truckee wanted Manogue and Manogue wanted Truckee. Having beat Truckee earlier in the year the Minors liked their chances. But that game took place in week 4 and that would be the last time Truckee lost. They have been on a roll ever since that game and the Wolverines were a completely different team. The game was potentially going to be played at Hug High School if the storm that was in the forecast was too severe. Well the storm was not as severe as originally thought and the game would be played at Surprise Stadium setting the stage for an epic battle between two proud schools who now had a history of bad blood. It was a chance for the Wolverines to exact some revenge for themselves and for the many who had to endure the Minor Miracle over the course of the past year. The anticipation did not disappoint as the two locked horns in a defensive bout in classic Truckee weather conditions. Weather that had an impact on both team’s execution. Both offenses were able to execute early as the storm was rolling in. Truckee would strike first on a 60 yard drive that was capped off by an 11 yard TD run by Pat Callahan. The Minors would come right back with a 12 play 60 yard scoring drive of their own and they would score a touchdown. But that would be the end of the scoring as the teams struggled to move the ball or hang onto the ball as the weather increasingly got worse. Truckee had 6 fumbles but their defense put on one the gutsiest performances in our history and would go into halftime locked in a 7-7 tie. In the Truckee locker room there was very little football strategy discussed as the players just tried to dry off and warm up. Coaches had to tie players shoes for them because their hands were so cold that they were beyond fine motor skills. In the 3rd quarter Truckee would make their move and try to take over the game driving the ball inside Manogue’s 20 yard line. But on first down from the 18 yard line Bilstein was hit hard on a QB sneak and was taken off on a stretcher and brought to Tahoe Forrest Hospital for a possible head injury. His x-rays were negative but obviously Bilstein’s day was done. Mark had taken most of the QB snaps all season and both Pat Callahan and John Francis had taken backup reps. Brolliar went with Francis, Truckee’s tight end, and unfortunately on the very next play Francis fumbled the QB exchange with center John Adams and Manogue jumped on the loose ball. The momentum swung in Manogue’s favor instantly. The Minors smelt the blood in the water but it was Truckee’s day and that Wolverine Defense rose to the occasion turning back every Manogue scoring threat. The Wolverines spent much of the 4th quarter on defense and stuck in their own territory. The deck was stacked against them but they would not give in and the game was tied 7-7 at the end of regulation.
The game would go into overtime. The snow was now coming down hard and the conditions were extremely cold. Truckee won the coin toss and elected to go defense first. Manogue would get the ball down to Truckee’s 5 yard line and faced a 3rd and goal. Then the unthinkable took place. The football gods shined down on the Wolverines just like they had done in Manogue’s favor just a year ago. The Minors, from the 5, called a toss right but their halfback, Talbott, miss handled the toss and fumbled the ball. After a mad scramble to the ball John Ennis and Jesus Avila stuffed Talbott for a 14 yard loss. But Manogue had one of the best kickers in the state in Brett Frey who put the winning point on the board completing the Minor Miracle. He would be automatic from this range usually. However, the weather was not in favor of the kicking game and Frey’s 34 yard attempt dropped well short of the uprights and Truckee’s defense came up with yet another stop. It was now up to the Truckee offense who had struggled all day. Not only was Truckee without their starting QB, Bilstein was also the Wolverines kicker. Truckee was feeling the pressure to put it in the end zone. After only gaining a yard the first two plays Truckee had a 3rd down and goal from the 9 yard line. Then maybe the best call in Truckee’s history came on the next play. On third down Francis lined up under center and tossed the ball to Callahan to the right side. Manogue thought Truckee was setting up for a 4th down Field goal but Callahan stopped in his tracks and threw a pass back across the field to Francis who was all by himself for the winning touchdown. The ball from Callahan hung in the air for a while but the back up QB made an accurate throw to Francis who was used to catching passes and he made the catch at the 5 yard line. Francis then carried the ball into the end zone with ease as the entire Manogue defense had been fooled. The crowd erupted and the players stormed the field. The trick play, called I-51, sent Truckee to its second straight appearance in the State Championship game. With the Minor Miracle just a year ago and still fresh in the minds of the Wolverines, I can’t think of a better way to beat Manogue then with a little magic of our own.
Truckee was heading back to the championship and beating Manogue to get there was very satisfying. Truckee had not beaten Manogue since coming back to Nevada in 81. There were some very key plays late in the game that helped Truckee in the victory. After Bilstein went out of the game Truckee was battling horrible field position. The defense was taking the brunt of the bad field position but would ultimately hold up time and time again. Manogue had just 100 total yards and this was a team averaging well over 300. One of the bigger plays of the game was when backup punter, Alroy Waters, boomed a 45 yard punt with just 2:55 left in the game. Truckee was berried in their own territory at the time and the long punt allowed Truckee to hold off Manogue and force the game to overtime. Afterwards Brolliar admitted to the weather playing a factor in the win by saying, “It was miserable for both squads, but I think we were better able to handle the conditions. One thing which I feel had a big impact on the outcome was the fact that they had a two-platoon system while we did not. Their players had to get awfully cold standing on the sidelines. Our kids were on the field most of the time. That kept their activity level up.” This is crazy because the very thing that beat Truckee in their first matchup was Manogue’s ability to two-platoon and ware Truckee down. But in Wolverine playing conditions the two-platton philosophy was nullified and Truckee capitalized. Brolliar went on to say that there were multiple players with severe hypothermia. The Wolverines walked up the Stadium stairs knowing they had just accomplished something great and the fans stayed to pat every player on the pads as they climbed out of Surprise Stadium for the last time.
Next up is a rematch with Elko who beat Boulder City 14-8 in the Semi Finals. Elko’s only two losses came to Jerome, a large school from Idaho, and North Tahoe who beat Elko 19-15. Though Truckee lost to Elko earlier in the year it was some time ago and again just like the previous week vs Manogue, Truckee was a different team. Nobody thought Elko had what it took to take down Truckee a second time. But Truckee had to travel to Elko again to complete their run and capture the first Championship in school history. Truckee had already experienced all of the theatrics of the Elko experience and would not let the dog and pony show intimidate them a second time.
Truckee returned the favor against Elko shutting them out 34-0 at Elko in a snowstorm that would drop over 8 inches of snow on the field before the opening kickoff. Though they were in Elko the snow welcomed Truckee and made them feel like they were at home. The shutout would put an exclamation point on the Wolverine’s season as they peaked at the right time winning 8 straight games to capture Truckee’s first State Championship. But it didn’t come easy early. Truckee only led the game 2-0 at halftime. It was a close game in the first half as both teams struggled with the field conditions. Truckee’s Defense dominated Elko’s running attack as Elko had -33 yards rushing. This forced Elko to throw the ball in the second half and when they did Truckee was waiting for it as they intercepted 6 passes. One of those interceptions was ran back for a TD by John Francis and 2 others set up Neptune scores. Neptune found his footing carrying the ball 33 times for 209 yards and 4 TD’s as he carried the team to their first State Championship. Neptune also went over 1,000 yards rushing on the year in the State game. Bilstein came back from his injury from the Manogue game and lead the offense as he did all year. He also had an interception that lead to a Neptune TD. Truckee dominated the game and it was highlighted by the O-line.
Coach Curtis praised his unit by grading them out with an A+, something he had never done before. He said after the game, “to be honest I’ve never seen a unit play better at the high school level.” It really was a great Truckee win in great Truckee like weather. Over 200 fans made there way out to Elko to watch the game and celebrate the win! The Championship day culminated at the Owl in Battle Mountain where the players ate dinner and celebrated the win with fans. Then they hopped on a bus to head home. When the bus hit Floriston the players broke out in song chanting the Indians Fight Song as tribute to themselves. I can’t think of a better way to end a long bus ride home from Elko.
1st Team All-League Offense: Alroy Waters G, John Ennis G, John Francis TE, Rick Neptuen RB
1st Team All-League Defense: Alroy Waters DE, John Ennis DE, John Francis DB, Andy Smith LB, Marl Bilstein DB, Herb Hodges DL
2nd Team Offense: Mark Bilstein QB, Pat Callahen RB, Herb Hodges Ol, Andy Smith OL, Brian Smith WR
2nd Team Defense: Jesus Avila DT, Sam Brenes DB, Brian Smith DB
1983 All-State Selections
Offensive Player of the Year: Rick Neptune
Coach of the year: Dave Brolliar
1st Team All-State Offense: Rick Neptune RB, John Ennis OL
1st Team All-State Defense: Alroy Waters DE, John Francis DB, Mark Bilstein DB
2nd Team All-State Offense: Alroy Waters OL
According to the coaching staff this team was gifted both mentally and physically and when they learned to work hard they were unbeatable making them true Champions. I was 10 years old when this team won the championship. My oldest sister was a cheerleader for the 83 football team and this was my first real experience watching Truckee Football at Surprise Stadium. I remember watching them during home games and being very anxious to be a Wolverine some day. I did not go to Elko to watch the game but my brother and I listened to it on the radio (KTRT) and I’ll never forget our excitement as Truckee dominated the second half and brought home the Championship! To me it all goes back to the preseason when the coaches made a decision to focus on the Defense and the Kicking game first and then control the ball on offense with a strong running game. The coaching staff knew the strengths and weaknesses of their team and they played to their strengths. From what I remember and what I have recently confirmed through reading many articles is this…The 1983 team was not flashy and they were not glamorous. They were scrappers. They were throwback players with lots of heart, determination, and nasty. They hit hard, swarmed to the ball on defense , and pounded the rock on offense. They weren’t just Bad, “They were Bad to the Bone!”
1984 3-6 (League 2-3)
At the end of the 1983-84 school year Dave Brolliar announced to the football team that he would not be back the following season. The one and done season did not sit well with many of the Wolverines, especially Rick Neptune who flourished in Brolliar’s offense. But coach Brolliar lived in Tahoe City and had small children at the time and the move to North Tahoe made sense. I know Brolliar’s players had a tremendous amount of respect for him but this had to be a hard one to swallow from a Wolverine perspective. I’m sure the players understood the move but leaving after winning a State Championship and then heading to the Enemy? I’m guessing it didn’t sit well. Regardless Brolliar moved on and Mark Cunningham became Truckee’s 14th coach. Coach Cunningham comes to Truckee from Southern California where he was a teacher and head football coach at Chino High. During his two years at Chino he went 5-5 and 7-3. He graduated from San Jose State in 1976 where he played Free-Safety for the Spartans. Though his time in Truckee was short lived his impact on the program was everlasting. First of all Cunningham brought in the Wing-T offense that Truckee is still running. Secondly, it was Cunningham who proposed that Truckee include Silver into their school colors. Cunningham was not the only new resident of Truckee to make an impact on Truckee Football. Also new to the team and new to the school was Rob Collins who was a Hart High School transfer. Rob played fullback as a junior and was a tough physical player. There were many changes in 1984 that the Wolverines would have to battle but biggest challenge would be trying replace 9 offensive and defensive starters. There was plenty of young talent on the 83 team but they did not really get much game experience. With the install of a new offense and basically a revamp of every position the Wolverines were going to have to be fast learners if they wanted to be the first Truckee team to win Back-to-Back Championships. This is the story if 1984 Wolverines and their journey to hold on to their Championship.
As mentioned before Truckee graduated most of its starters but one of the two juniors to start for the 83 team was star running back Rick Neptune. Neptune, who would go onto play at the University of Davis, was geared up for a monster year. But first he would have to adjust to the new offense. The Wing-T is an offense that is much different than the pro-style offense that Brolliar was running. There is a lot more timing and misdirection that takes place and it takes time to master. Another returner from the 83 team was John Adams who started at center halfway through the season. In 1983 he moved to guard and was a leader on a very youthful offensive line. At center was Paul Funk who was a junior and maybe weighed 165lbs. At the other guard was a senior but also a little undersized, Daryl Faiferek. Both tackles were juniors but had very good size. Eric Comstock and Eric Munson were the two bookends of the Wing-T offense. At Tight end was another junior Steve Laiblin. As mentioned before Rob Collins, a junior, was the fullback. The QB was again another junior Andrew Long. Andrew was a tall talented player who was a pure passer. He was also a very talented basketball player. This was a very talented offense but it was young. And not only was it young it was inexperienced other than Neptune and Adams. But like any other Truckee team this team had some tough characters on it and they would battle through the year playing most teams very close.
Truckee started off the season on the road beating Portola for the 4th season in a row. Unlike last year which was a close game the Wolverines blew out the Tigers 51-19. This was great start and proved early that the Wolverines new offense could put up points. However, the following week Elko came to down as hungry as ever and would get revenge beating Truckee 34-0. The exact score Truckee beat Elko by in the State Game a year before. Next up was a quick travel to Incline where the Wolverines would try to get back on track. But just like the year before Truckee would lose to the Highlanders by one point going down to Incline 6-7. It would not get any easier as Truckee played Monogue at home the following week. Like Elko, Manogue was looking for some revenge after Truckee beat them in overtime in the playoffs. The Minors would put a beating on Truckee 56-9. The Wolverines were now 1-3 just like the year before. However, in 1983 the Wolverines had close games with both Elko and Manogue. The 84 Wolverines, after scoring 51 points in game one, scored just 15 points in their next 3 games. Truckee would now have to face their rival North Tahoe if they were going to get back on track.
In 84 Truckee would not get the 2 week break they benefitted from a year prior as North Tahoe would not be on suspension. The Wolverines would also have to face their former coach. Homecoming 1984, “The Little Big Game”. Truckee would get some much needed extra motivation the week befroe the game. It appears that someone from NT sent the Truckee Football team 31 cream puffs before the game. There were 28 players on Truckee’s team and 3 coaches. The gesture did not sit well with Truckee and though they were fired up to beat NT they just did not do enough and lost
big 6-35. I got the cream puff story from the yearbook. I thought it was interesting. That’s the way the rivalry was in the 80’s and I’m sure it was all in good fun. Many things that were much worse would take place throughout the years of the Rivalry. Growing up in Truckee I was groomed to hate North Tahoe. We were always considered to be “Hicks” or REDNECKS and treated as if we were less than those who lived on “The Lake”. So, this type of behavior is not surprising and it is what made it such a great rivalry for many year.
Truckee is having struggles they haven’t seen in 10 years. In four games they only scored 21 points and gave up 132. In week 6 Truckee would have to travel out to Hawthorne. This was a game the Wolverines could have used as a turn around game. If they win they are 1-2 in league and might have a chance. But Truckee would lose their 5th game in a row in heartbreaker going down 32-33 to the Serpents. Truckee now 1-5 and 0-3 in league had no shot at the playoffs. But they wouldn’t give up and the following week they beat Whittell soundly 22-6. Neptune had one of his monster games at Whittell and in the process ruptured his spleen during the game. Neptune would somehow play through the injury and actually finished the game. Afterward he was rushed to the hospital where he had emergency surgery. Not only was he fast and talented, Neptune was no doubt one of the toughest guys to ever play for Truckee. Finally Truckee broke their losing streak and things would seem to be on the up. However, not having Neptune was a big loss and Truckee lost to Lowry 7-18 in a physical battle. This was Lowry’s first win over Truckee since the Wolverines came back into the NIAA. On a side Story in the Lowry game, one of their Lineman was featured in Sports Illustrated as a top wrestler in the US. Pat McDade who was also a heavyweight Alternate for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. McDade had 67 straight pins at one point in High School, a record that would stand nationally until recently. He went on to wrestle at Boise State and a very successful year. Knowing the information on McDade makes the picture below a Truckee classic. The last game of the year Truckee Played Yerington at home. Wanting to go out on a winning note the Wolverines would role over the Lions 37-14. Yerington only had 13 total yards. A strong finish to a disappointing year as the Wolverines end the season after 9 games going 3-6.
Like many years before, Truckee would struggle when there was a coaching change and in 1984 that was no different. This team still had good players on it. The best player was Rick Neptune. This team was young and had to overcome a lot different obstacles. There was a lot of juniors who got a lot of game experience setting the 85 team up for a promising year. Moapa Valley won the Nevada AA championship in 84.
Also, in 1984 Coach Nick Santamaria retired from coaching. Coach Santamaria had many successful years coaching at the JV level. He also spent many years as Truckee’s AD which he continued to do. I’m sure there were many times Santamaria could have moved up to the Varsity level but chose to stay at the lower levels. It should not be over looked that the lower level’s success is so important to Varsity success. Santamaria was a huge part of the development of our young players. He started in the early 70’s under coach Stewart and ended his reign in 1984. He won multiple league Titles in the Late 70’s and early 80’s both in California and Nevada. He brought a sense of stability to the program something often over looked by just about everyone but the Varsity Head Coach who knows the Value of the whole program.
1985 5-4 (League 4-2)
Truckee puts on Silver helmets and Silver pants. Silver becomes a school color under coach Cunningham. Now Silver can be found in most of our teams and is officially a school color. It was rumored that coach Cunningham was an Ohio St. fan and wanted to change Truckee’s appearance to look similar to The Buckeyes. Whether or not this is all true, I’m not sure but it was a lasting change. Truckee also put stripes on their helmets for the first time in 1985. It was a change that in my opinion was a great one. JD Deschler joins Truckee’s football staff after years at NT. Coach Deschler was responsible for the after game chant “The Victors” which is the Michigan Wolverine’s fight song. It was originally planned for after the Homecoming game as a rub in the face to Incline’s head coach who was a graduate of Michigan (Notre Dame) and also on staff at Truckee High. So, after Truckee soundly beat Incline they broke out together in song singing:
Hail! to the victors valiant
- Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
- Hail! Hail! to Michigan
- The leaders and best!
- Hail! to the victors valiant
- Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
- Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
- The champions of the West!
This is only one verse of the song but this is what the Truckee Wolverines sung after a couple games in 85. Also, Coach Curtis also came back for another season. Truckee had a good coaching staff in place and would be returning many offensive starters from the 1984 season. With one of the biggest Offensive Lines in Truckee history Truckee would look to get things rolling in a positive direction and make a run at the playoffs.
The team was lead by QB Andrew long who had plenty of game experience having started as a junior. He also had a rocket arm. Unfortunately the team would miss the leadership and toughness of senior Rob Collins who was in a bad car accident over the summer of 85 with his brother Ron. Ron was ok but Rob had to have extensive surgery which included a metal plate on his skull. Rob would go on to be a leader in the school at the ASB level and became a coach a couple years later. When coach Estabrook was promoted to the Varsity Head job Rob Collins assumed the JV head coach position. This was my sophomore year. I remember Coach Collins being a young and energetic coach. We
had fun the year he was our coach and we won a league title going 8-1 and most teams were not even close. Rob is still coaching at McQueen High School. His brother Ron played with a little extra in 85 making an impact as a junior and earning himself the nickname “Psycho”. This team also featured two pretty good running backs. At fullback was junior Mike Cooper who was a physical down hill runner. And the explosive part of the offensive was Jason Estabrook who had good speed from the Halfback position. However, the strength of this offense was the O-line. Truckee’s O-line averaged 260 in 1985, size is something the Wolverines rarely enjoy. Keith (Beef) Williams, Eric Comstock, Eric Munson, Dean Michaels, Shane Smith, and Dennis Morin. Throw in second year starter Steve Laiblin at Tight End and you have one strong front line. Truckee had a dual threat offense with that strong line and Andrew Long at QB.
In Truckee’s first game of the year they would defeat Portola for the 5th straight year. In week two Truckee would have to make the dreaded trip to Elko, facing a very good Indian team. Truckee played them tough but lost in a heartbreaker 34-36. The score shows just how strong this Truckee team was as Elko won the State Championship in 85. Next Truckee had to make another long drive to Tonopah to play a very strong Mucker team. This team had Mucker legend Craig Barr who ended up getting a full ride to Idaho State. Barr was a TE, Middle Linebacker, and a place kicker and was a second team all-state LB as a sophomore. Barr played five years for the Arizona Rattlers where he won two championships in 1996 and 97. Truckee was not able to get their offense moving and lost 0-10. Truckee starts the 85 season 1-2 but is competing and playing good football.
The Wolverines would get things rolling in the right direction beating Fernley at Fernley 29-6. In week 5 Truckee faced Incline for Homecoming. This was the game Truckee practiced “The Victors” song and at the end of the game after beating Incline 34-12 the Wolverines with one big voice sang out the Michigan Wolverine’s fight song. Truckee now on a 2 game win streak hosted the always tough Lowry Buckaroos. After losing to Lowry for the first time the year before, Truckee would beat up on the Buckaroos 35-8. Then it was off to North Tahoe to face Brolliar’s Lakers. The Wolverines would explode for a 48-8 win over the Lakers. This was the first year that players who played together for the Pioneers now had to face off against each other in the “Little Big Game” Truckee’s victory was the biggest margin of victory between the two teams in their 12 year history. North Tahoe only fielded 18 players but at the lower levels NT had their best teams in their school history brewing. However, it was the Wolverines day in 85!
Truckee was now 5-2 and 3-1 in League. They were clearly on a roll and playoffs hopes were looking good. But then disaster struck in Fallon. Truckee hadn’t played Fallon since 1979 when Truckee beat them in the last seconds of the game on goal line stand beating the Greenwave 13-12. Fallon had dropped down from the AAA in 1985. After the Greenwave won 3 State Championships in a row 77, 78, and 79 they were moved up to the AAA I think in 1981. In 85 Truckee gave Fallon all they could handle. Deep into the 3rd quarter Truckee was up 33-13 and seemed to have the game in control. But then Andrew Long was knocked out of the game and Fallon staged a comeback and tied the game at 40 after regulation. Truckee lost in overtime when they needed their QB most and it devastated the Wolverines. The next week Truckee would need to travel to Manogue and beat the Minors to advance into the playoffs. But The Wolverines played uninspired football and Manogue beat Truckee at Manogue 14-28.
Truckee’s end of the season awards went as follows: Team MVP, Andrew Long; Most Valuable Running Back, Jason Estabrook; Most Valuable Offensive Lineman, Eric Munson; Most valuable Defensive Lineman, Greg Schaaf, Most Valuable Defensive Back, Mark Massari, and the Coaches Award went to Steve Laiblin. The 1985 Wolverines were loaded with talent and big hitters. They had a big offensive line and a strong QB. They had a recipe to make run at a Championship but underachieved when they needed to dig deep and win a game. Losing Andrew Long in the Fallon game proved to be costly and ultimately Truckee’s doom. If Truckee beats Fallon in 85, I might be talking a little differently about this team. Remember they played the Elko Indians very close in the early weeks of the season and Elko was crowned the Nevada AA Champs in 1985. This team had the ability but could not quite close the deal on the tougher teams in the league leaving Truckee to turn their gear in after 9 games.
1986 6-3 (4-3 League Record) 4th in League
John (JD) Deschler becomes Truckee’s 15th coach. After two years under Cunningham Deschler assumes the head coaching job. From what I understand JD was comfortable being an assistant but when the head job opened up and nobody stepped forward JD took on the challenge. If you remember, Deschler came from North Tahoe when Brolliar left Truckee. Deschler coached under Nevada Legend Ken Dalton. Deschler was able to retain long time defensive coordinator Dick Curtis and Todd McKillop who coached Truckee’s JV teams during the Barrett years. Deschler would also hire a young coach, Steve Ames, who played for Dalton and Deschler at North Tahoe. Coach Ames throughout the years has been a part of the Pop Warner program in Truckee and also coached our Freshman and JV teams in the early 2000’s. Deschler had assembled a pretty good coaching staff and now it was time to see if the talent was enough to make a run in the North.
Truckee had 36 players heading into week one and 18 of those players were seniors. It was a pretty good balance of young players and senior leadership. Though the offensive line was not as big as the previous year, they were still good size. Two of the more dominate lineman in the division were seniors Greg Schaaf and Keith Williams. Williams was Truckee’s offensive lineman of the year. Running behind the Truckee line was senior tailback Gary Lawson and fullback Mike Cooper. Both Cooper and Lawson were CO Offensive MVP’s. Ron Collins was a tough nosed runner who also made an impact on the offensive side of the ball. Lawson, though he was big, was more of a sprinter than a physical runner. If Truckee needed a tough yard it was usually Cooper who got the call. Calling the shots under center was junior Rick Holmes. Holmes had proved himself in the lower ranks and was ready for his shot at the Varsity level.
Also, on this team was first year player Aaron Wallace, who was a converted soccer player. Wallace, better known as WAX, was Truckee’s most explosive player. Though he had never played before, it did not slow him down. He was a quick learner and a great athlete, which mad him an almost instant success at all phases of the game. It is not very often that a first year player at the Varsity level can have the kind of success that Wallace had and to be the team’s MVP was unthinkable. However, that is exactly what Wallace earned. From returning kicks, to good defensive back play, to big plays on offense, Wax became a go to player in 1986 and he was Truckee’s MVP.
On the defensive side of the ball it was Greg Schaaf that was the most dominate and most feared Wolverine. He was a defensive end and gave many teams trouble earning him the defensive lineman of the year award. Also a strong player up front was junior Aaron Schwier. At Linebacker it was Alex Holtz leading the way along with Mike Cooper and Kevin McKechnie. Truckee had a very good secondary in 86. Starting with the DB of the year Ron Collins. Collins was big hitter and very physical player earning him the nickname Psycho! Also in the defensive backfield was Aaron Wallace and Greg Pohler. This team was not short of talent nor size and the expectations were high going into the season opener in Portola and Truckee did not disappoint beating Portola 21-6.
The 1986 team had a little extra motivation to play for after the Portola game. Unfortunately after the game that Friday night two Truckee students who were at the game supporting the team were
in a very bad car accident. Steve Pike and Joe Silva (Perkins), were traveling together and were in a head on collision on Highway 89. Steve had just graduated in June and had not left for school yet and I believe Joey was a senior. They were both killed in that accident and it really shook up the community and school. The football team came up with the motto “4J” forever in our hearts. The “4” was in memory of Steve Pike who wore the number 4 for the baseball team and the “J” was for Joey. The Wolverines played inspired football in honor of their friends Joey and Steve.
The following week Truckee played their hearts out vs Elko. Ultimately the Wolverines would get beat soundly by the defending State Champions 7-29 in front of their home crowd. It was no doubt a set back but the Wolverines did not let it bother them and pressed forward taking on a very strong opponent in week 3. The Tonapah Muckers came to town with the strongest team in their history. In a close game Truckee pulled out the win 21-14. If you remember from my 85 writeup, Craig Barr was a junior for the Muckers when Truckee played them a year prior. Now in his senior year the Muckers posed problems for many teams. In fact they played North Tahoe for the State Championship in 1986. It would take a last second miracle against Tonopah for North Tahoe to win their first State Championship. This Tonopah team was no joke. As mentioned before, Craig Barr was a stud for Tonopah, and he was the State’s MVP. They would rely on Barr and his leadership in the State Game which was played at North Tahoe. Apparently the Muckers were down at halftime to North Tahoe 14-3. Tonapah would stage a come back in the second half and go up 17-14. With just 23 seconds left North Tahoe threw up a prayer and it was answered as they scored on a 63 yard pass play to win their first and ONLY State Championship. So, for Truckee to beat this Tonapah team, the Wolverines had to be a pretty good team too. After beating the Muckers Truckee had some momentum going and would win 3 games straight beating Fernely 21-13, Incline 7-5 (baseball score), and then finally beat Lowry 38-20. This would set up the Homecoming showdown with rival NT.
Truckee was 5-1 heading into the “Little Big Game” and North Tahoe was the number one ranked team in the Nevada AA. Now days the two towns don’t realize how big of game Truckee and North Tahoe was. The teams hated each other but there was always respect as well. JD would be well rehearsed in the Truckee North Tahoe rivalry and brought some familiarity to the program. It was Truckee’s Homecoming which might have given North Tahoe a little extra motivation that they didn’t need.
The night before Truckee had a huge bonfire, between Surprise Stadium and the baseball field, rallying the school for the big game. But the 1986 Lakers were loaded with talent and of course Brolliar was a heck of a coach. With Mike Bebee at QB the Lakers were very balanced and could move the ball at will vs most teams. Truckee was outmatched and though they were on a win streak and had some momentum, it wouldn’t be enough to take down the top team in the State. It was a hard fought battle and a very physical game but NT would
prevail and shutout Truckee 0-21. The loss would take Truckee to a 5-2 record and they would still have to face Fallon and Manogue. In week 8 Fallon came to Truckee and was part of one of the more memorable games in our history.
Truckee was on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs were concerned. In a close game Fallon would appear to have had the game wrapped up with the score 18-14. There was minimal time left on the clock and Truckee was forced to use a couple timeouts on defense. Truckee did get the ball back and had one timeout to spare. I’m not sure of all of the details but I remember Truckee calling a timeout while on offense around midfield or maybe just across the 50. Coach Deschler walked out to the huddle and literally drew a play up in the grass. The design of the play was to go to their play maker, Wallace. Holmes dropped back to pass and hung a nice ball up to the end zone. Wallace was
running down the left sideline towards the north end zone. As Wallace crossed the goal line he leaped up twisting back towards the QB between 2 or 3 Fallon players. Wax out jumped them all and came down with the ball for the score. It was an unbelievable play and the crowd went crazy. Truckee won the game and kept their playoff hopes alive hosting Manogue the following weekend. But the following week those hopes were crushed by a last minute drive by Manogue resulting in a heartbreaking loss 21-19. Though I had watched quite a few games at Surprise Stadium by this time, I made every home game in 1986. I was in 7th grade and at that time the 7th and 8th graders were at the high school. So, I felt like I had a connection to these players. I vividly remember Manogue coming onto our field for pre-game and lining up across half the field making a big “M” and they proceeded to do their jumping jacks. There was a sign in the stands that said something like, “God is on our side, who is on yours?” or something like that. Manogue was
extremely arrogant and they knew it. Though North Tahoe was our rival game, there was something about Manogue that was unpleasant. They were a very proud tradition and they traveled well packing our visiting stands every year they traveled up. If we could have pulled out the win it would have been Truckee’s first appearance in the playoffs since 1983. I’ll never forget at the end of this game as we were trying to get the ball back we ran out of timeouts. Truckee improvised as Alex Holtz faked an injury to stop the clock. He was carried off the field by a smiling coach Deschler and teammate Gary Lawson. It didn’t work but Truckee never goes down without a fight.
This was a very good Truckee team but they just fell short to Manogue in the last game of the year otherwise you never know what could have happened in the playoffs. As mentioned in the start of this writeup, Truckee’s MVP was junior Aaron Wallace. Seniors Mike Cooper, Ron Collins, and Greg Schaff were all part of Truckee’s success and impact players according to coach Deschler. Gary Lawson also ran the ball hard his senior year and was a play maker on offense. Al Holts was Truckee’s defensive leader at the Middle Linebacker position. In the mid to late 80’s Elko, Manogue, and NT were the powerhouses of the Northern Nevada 2A with Fallon and Truckee usually on the outside looking in. Though Truckee was not able to get by these three teams in 86 it was not a bad start for JD Deschler as Truckee’s new coach. At the JV level Ron Estabrook becomes the head coach and his team had a winning record.
1987 7-2 (5-2 League)
Deschler trying to ride the momentum from the previous year would go 7-2 and was able to knock off one of the powerhouses of the 2A with a big win at Elko. It was a very close game and a struggle but Truckee pulled off the victory in Elko 6-0. Making the trip to Elko is never easy and playing them at their house in the 80’s was a crazy experience that usually didn’t end well. Truckee was able to get by one of the teams that beat them the previous year. However, they could not get by the other two, Manogue and NT. In the last game of the year Truckee was defeated by NT again but not before taking out their starting QB, Mike Bebee, with a broken leg. This would hurt NT’s chances to go Back to Back as Manogue defeated them in the State Championship game. Without a doubt NT would have beaten Manogue if Bebee was playing QB in that game. Though there would be some tough match ups in the future, this was the last season that NT would ever defeat Truckee. The seniors on this team would never get a taste of the playoffs but they had some legends on this team. Kevin McKechnie was one of the biggest hitters in our history according to those who lined up against him. Aaron Wallace was a very dynamic and fast player. Also, Darren Bayer with his black sports goggles and Eric Dickerson mask is an image I’ll never forget. Rick Holmes was the QB and one of the team leaders. I was in 8th grade in 87 and at the time the high school was grades 7-12. I watched this team play a lot and I specifically remember being at North Tahoe on Halloween watching Shawn Price (NFL Bucs, Bills, and Panthers) putting Shawn Stock in an ambulance. It was a very physical game and this North Tahoe team likely would have gone Back to Back had Truckee not knocked Bebee out for the season. Under Deschler Truckee represented the Red pants in 87. Red on Red for home games was back. Truckee had Red pants in the late 50’s and early 60’s and went Red on Red for some of their home games. It was a nice change up to see that Red on Red with the new Silver colors. There has been very few games since 1987 that Truckee has not gone Red on Red at Home. On a side note, Ron Estabrook takes the JV team to a 8-1 record and a new era of Truckee football is lurking.
1988 7-2 (5-2 League Record) 3rd in League & Ranked #1 in the State in week 5
The “T” at the south end of Surprise Stadium is pored in October of 1988 just before Homecoming. Estabrook goes 9-0 at the JV level and he is on the rise. This was my freshman year and my time to play Truckee Football had finally come. Deschler would take his team to a 7-2 record and once again would just miss the playoffs. The 88 team was ranked number one in the State of Nevada going into game 5 vs Manogue. Up to that point the Wolverines were undefeated. They started off the year at Yerington and beating the the Lions 23-0 behind 3 Jose Cruz passes. ThenTruckee beat Quincy 34-13. The third game of the year Truckee would travel to Winnemucca and beat Lowry. In week four we traveled to Fernley. The Fernley game being the most memorable moment of my Freshman year and maybe my whole high school experience. Richie Parker was a senior on this team and pound for pound might be Truckee’s biggest hitter. During the Fernley game in 1988 the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in high school football took place and I have been around a lot high school football. It was a hot September day in Fernley. Fernely to this point had never beat Truckee, at least at the Varsity level, and in 1988 it was no different. Truckee was playing an almost flawless game and with time running out in the first half the unthinkable took place. Dustin Pugh had intercepted a pass and took it to the house for the pick six. On the return Richie Parker destroyed a Vaquero on a legal but blind side hit right in front of the Fernley bench. The two players got into an altercation which set off a chain of events that that I’ll never forget. I was actually at the snack bar when it happened. If you have been to Fernely then you know the snack bar, like most places, is on the home stands side. Though Fernley has changed a little over the years, in 88′ it was not the most welcome place to visit. As I was standing in line I remember watching Pugh come across the goal line celebrating his touchdown. The next thing I remember is the Fernely sideline storming the field and the fight was on. Shortly after the benches cleared parents from Fernley’s stands stormed the field. It was and still is the most classless thing I have ever seen in high school sports. Matt Young, a Truckee Linebacker, was actually punched in the groin by another Fernley parent. Three other Fernley fans went onto the field during the altercation. It was crazy! Needless to say I nervously got myself back to the Truckee side. The Truckee coaches, administration and support staff did an excellent job keeping players out of the fight and off the field. The Truckee side, according to the papers, showed good restraint. The game was a blowout and the refs postponed the game at that point, as it was 40-0 before the half. The police escorted our bus out of town. The Fernley student body waited for our bus outside the school gates to throw things at us as we left. Crazy day in Fernley…good times!
Even crazier is that the game was actually being reviewed by the NIAA and possibly going to have to be either picked up where it left off, Truckee Forfeit, Fernley Forfeit, or an actual replay of the whole game at the end of the season if there were playoff implications. Truckee’s Athletic director, John Besio, was quoted in the Sierra Sun the week after the fight, “The bottom line is that Fernley is 0-4 and it was a totally frustrated expression.” In the end Truckee got the win 40-0 and did not have to replay the game. There was heavy security at all events vs Fernely there after. Five years later Truckee played Fernley for the first time since that fight in the 93 playoffs. There was still tension in the air in a lopsided Truckee victory. To this day the Truckee Fernley game is a highly anticipated game that evokes many emotions.
Truckee is 4-0 and ranked number one in the State. Manogue was ranked number 2 and this
didn’t sit well with the defending 2A champions. Truckee might have been a little too loose for this game and the defending State Champions made them pay. Manogue would pound Truckee and embarrass them in front of their home crowd shutting them out 28-0. Truckee was held to just 86 yards of Offense. Manogue came into the game fully platooning both their offense and defense. Coach Deschler had stated in the paper that Manogue not having one player going both ways made the difference. But it was Truckee turnovers that mad the difference early. Richie Parker fumbled the ball oon their first possession and one play later Manogue was on the board which set the tone of the game. This was a Talbot lead team at the QB position and the second score by Manogue was a controversial play. Talbot appeared to throw an interception but his receiver would fight for the ball ripping it out of Estabrook’s hands for the TD. The referee, to Truckee’s disappointment, rewarded Manogue with the TD. Truckee would hang tough through the 3rd quarter 14-0 but in the 4th quarter the Minors ran away with the win and the number one ranking in the State. The last score being a pick six and a message to the Wolverines. It was a painful reality that Truckee’s time had not yet come. The following week Manogue had a let down vs Fallon opening the door for Truckee to still win the division.
Though Truckee fell short in the Manogue game they would beat Elko the following week in a crazy game. Truckee pulled out a last second victory in a exciting homecoming win. Truckee, was fired up, and came out swinging to go up 7-0 early in the game. Elko would answer and the score would be 14-7 right before half. Truckee was inside the five yard with seconds left. They had a 4th down and goal and instead of kicking a FG to put points on the board they went for it and came up short. It was 14-7 at the half. In the second half Truckee pulled away 28-7 before having a complete collapse. Elko would come back form a 21 point deficit to take the lead 29-28. Matt Estabrook was a junior on the team and remembers the collapse and the 2 point conversion that gave up the lead. Elko ran his way on an option play. He was a corner and got a read on the play so he came off his man to form up the ball carrier and secure the win. But Ted Geary who took the pitch from Scott Gilligan broke free for the score and the lead. It appeared that Truckee was done with just 42 seconds left in the game but that wasn’t the case. It was Jose Cruz time. Cruz was a junior and one heck of QB. Truckee just didn’t pass the ball much back then. That changed in the last minute of the Elko game and we got to see what Jose was made of. First of all Elko Squib kicked the ball which gave the Wolverines the ball at their own 40 yard line with minimal time off the clock. Cruz hit Dustin Pugh, TE, across the middle for a big gain down to Elko’s 17 yard line. Truckee would lose yardage but with just 12 seconds on the clock Cruz dropped back and connected with Shawn Wallace who was immediately hit. Wallace was able to keep his ballence and then bounced off two more Elko players and rambled into the endzone for the go ahead score. The crowd went crazy and players went crazy storming the endzone to greet Wallace. Matt Young, too exhausted to run down the field, greeted Cruz at mid field in their own celebration. However, there was still time on the clock. Marty Cochran, Truckee’s kicker, tried to squib kick multiple times but the kicks went out of bounds. This would guarantee that Elko would have great field position. However, the coaching staff gave up on the squib theory and let Cochran kick away. Cochran had a leg and got into one pinning Elko back and Truckee pulled out the win!
In week 8 Truckee had a shot vs Fallon to get into the playoffs. Truckee was 7-1 and Fallon was 8-0 coming into the game and ranked number one in the State. Fallon in 88 was underestimated for most of the year but after beating Manogue they got everyone’s attention. The Greenwave was coached by long time Nevada assistant Chris Klenakis and he had Fallon’s Mojo going entering the game vs Truckee. Truckee on the other hand was coming off a close win in the last seconds of the Elko game. The Wolverines were bit by the injury bug heading into the biggest game of the year. If Truckee could beat Fallon they would have forced a 3 way tie for the division. The Wolverines came out strong and Fallon appeared to have overlooked Truckee. Truckee went into halftime with a 7-0 lead. Truckee really dominated the Greenwave and held them to just 154 yards. However, Fallon returned the second half opening kickoff back for the touchdown. This deflated Truckee a little and fired up the Fallon sideline. For the remainder of the 3rd quarter the score stayed 7-7 until a Cruz pass was intercepted by Fallon’s Greg Moon who returned it for a TD. In the forth quarter Fallon would put a long drive together getting down to Truckee’s 6 yard line. Truckee would tighten up and stop Fallon and the score remained 14-7. Truckee was not out of the game but they couldn’t match Fallon’s intensity and now had to drive 94 yards. Cruz dropped back on 1st down and was sacked in the end zone for the safety. Truckee had to then go with an onside kick and didn’t get it. Three plays later Fallon scored on a 15 yard pass play to ice the game and kill Truckee’s chances to make the post season. It was Fallon’s first trip to the playoffs since 1978 when they won their 3rd Championship in a row. The following week Fallon would fall to Manogue in their rematch and Manogue would go on to beat Moapa Valley in the State Championship.
This Truckee team was also loaded with talent and was expected to go far in the playoffs. Unfortunately they fell short in a division that was very strong every season. The last game of the year Truckee beat rival NT 21-9. The win over North Tahoe started a streak that to this day has not been broken. For years Truckee struggled vs NT but from this point on would never lose to the “Lake” again. Truckee just couldn’t get passed Manogue and in 88 failed to beat Fallon leaving Truckee just short of the playoffs for the 5th straight year. Coach Deschler resigned after the 1988 season. He was 20-7 and was responsible for getting Truckee’s program moving in the right direction after the Cunningham era.
1989 11-1(6-0 League) Western League Champs & AA Nevada State Runner-Ups
Ron Estabrook becomes the new Head Coach. Coach Estabrook was Truckee’s 5th coach in the 80’s and the 16th coach in Truckee history. Ron and Mike Massari started the youth football program in Truckee in the early 1979. Known as the Truckee Pioneers the youth of Truckee would be part of the California Youth Football League. They played Auburn, South Tahoe, Nevada City, Roseville, Citrus Heights, and even some Bay Area Teams. In 1979 the Pioneers fielded just one team, the Pee Wees, and they would not win a game. But as the word got out about youth football in Truckee the Lake kids migrated their way over and within a couple years the Pioneers were fielding 4 teams. The Pioneers had some success but also had some struggles as they played many programs with much larger numbers. However, playing against this type of competition made the Truckee kids stronger and ultimately would be responsible for Truckee’s future success. I guess you can say that Ron Estabrook and Mike Massari were the true Pioneers as they established the Youth Football Program in Truckee. The Pioneers would change their name to the Jr. Wolverines in the early 90’s and that has stuck.
Ron Estabrook coached five years of Youth Football in Truckee before becoming the Wolverine’s JV head coach in 1987. In 87 the JV team would post an 8-1 record and win the Division. In 1988 the Truckee JV team would again win the division under Estabrook going 9-0. Ron’s success paved the way for him to become Truckee’s 16th coach and to this day Coach Estabrook has the highest winning percentage in Truckee history, winning 87% of the games he coached. From 1989 to 1993 Ron’s teams posted a 50-7 record. He won 4 League Championships, 2 State Championships, and had another State Runner up. That State Runner up team in 1989 might have been the best team Ron coached at Truckee going undefeated into the State Championship Game.
In Estabrook’s first season as Varsity coach his team would post an 11-1 record. It would be Truckee’s first trip back to the playoffs since 1983 when they won a State Championship. Like the team before them this team was loaded with returning talent and Truckee legends such as: Dustin Pugh, Matt Estabrook, Shawn Wallace, Jose Cruz, Rion Ramirez, Silver Dwinell and more. This senior class coupled with the size of the junior class was almost the perfect storm. It was this team that started the Tradition of playing the song “TNT” while walking down the stairs. On September 2nd 1989 before Truckee’s home opener vs Yerington, the classic ACDC song’s guitar echoed through the old scratchy speakers at Surprise Stadium. The 89 team was looking for a little extra to get them pumped before games and there was no better song to do that then TnT. The first time it was played was not quite what it is today. The song started as they were walking down the stairs but none of the Truckee fans payed much attention to what was going on. The team wasn’t playing the song to get the fans pumped up, it was for them. It was a moment of identity, a moment that at the time was a statement as if to say to the opposing team…”here we are, here we come, you better turn and run!” It caught on with the fans and the town. By the time the State Championship was played at Truckee that year the fans were singing, clapping, and cheering on their Wolverines to TnT. Something teams are still doing today 23 years later and the Truckee faithful sing and cheer right along. Now that is Tradition!
The 89 team rolled through just about every opponent they faced. They started off their season scoring 173 points in the first four games including a 53-7 thrashing of a quality Lower Lake team. It wasn’t until their 5th game of the season when they finally had a close game. Truckee’s weak schedule to start the season almost came back to bite them. In 1987 when the seniors were on JV they were undefeated going into the last game of the year at North Tahoe. North Tahoe beat Truckee that day, something Truckee hadn’t forgot. Unfortunately it was something North Tahoe had not forgot. Our players wouldn’t understand how big this game was. In the 80’s this rivalry was ugly. The Lake kids used to come over and play youth football for the Pioneers. The kids had grown up together and played together. There was a respect but it was also so competitive that things often got personal. Trash talk like you wouldn’t believe. It was usually the most physical game of the year. North Tahoe in 89 felt like they were the better team and they came to play. Truckee would struggle most of the game. Truckee scored first on an inside counter play to Matt Estabrook that went for a 71 yard score. The extra point was no good and the score was 6-0. North Tahoe would get on the board in the second quarter and would also miss the point after making the score 6-6. Then at the end of the first half North Tahoe was got the ball inside Truckee’s 5 yard line. However, on 4th down North Tahoe went for the touchdown and Kevin York and Jeff Dodge mad the goalline stand and Truckee dodged a bullet. The two teams went in at half time tied 6-6. In the 3rd quarter North Tahoe would drive again but come up short when Estabrook picked a Trujillo pass in the endzone. Then
Truckee finally put a 80 yard drive together with a long run by Estabrook, a long pass from Cruz to Wallace, and finally capped off with a five yard run by Jon Micah Clanton, the backup QB, who was in for an injured Matt Estabrook. The two point conversion failed and Truckee was up late in the game 12-6. Then disaster struck as Truckee was called for roughing the punter giving the ball back to NT for the possible winning drive. Trujillo broke Truckee’s contain and looked to be running in for a North Tahoe touchdown when he fumbled the ball. Shawn Wallace scooped up the ball and with about 5 minutes still on the clock Truckee secured the victory with consecutive first downs. With a little luck on Truckee’s side they remained undefeated. In Matt Estabrook’s opinion the Trujillo fumble was a defining moment not just for the season but he thinks that it was a program changing moment. If it weren’t for that fumble he felt Truckee would have lost that game and the 89 team would have been looked at in a completely different light. Regardless Truckee continued winning. The loss did not sit well with North Tahoe as there was heated tension after the game. North Tahoe Head coach Bill Freeman was quoted after the game stating “I told the team you can look at it two ways,The first way is that you gave away a game to a team you should have beat, the second way is that you lost to the number one team in the state 12-6.” Though it was a tough game and a physical battle, the Wolverines would not be denied this time and beat the Lakers for the second year straight.
Truckee then rolled through Dayton 42-0. Dayton was new to the division and was not ready to compete at this level. Our JV team would have beat them. Dayton had been part of the Nevada A and in 1989 they were promoted up along with Whittell. Fallon and Elko went up to the Nevada AAA. Truckee was 6-0 and would now face their biggest challenge. Manogue was the defending Nevada AA Champions and was coming off Back to Back Championship years. If Truckee was ready to take the next step they would have to prove they could knock off Manogue. Truckee was getting most of the attention in the press and this did not sit well with the defending Nevada AA Champs. Manogue had history, had tradition, they had pride, and they had experience. Manogue for the most part has always had Truckee’s number. In a very close game Truckee pulled out a late comeback victory 17-16. This would be the first time Truckee would beat Manogue since the 1983 playoffs. In fact this would be just the 3rd time Truckee had ever beat Manogue. It was a huge win and it was symbolic to Truckee getting over that final hurdle and changing the face of Northern Nevada AA Football. This is Matt Estabrook’s memory of that:
It was Oct 21st 1989 I remember it was early, but it felt like it took forever to get to that point. We loaded the bus at Truckee High School at 9am. The preparation for the Manogue game was intense all week. I remember the practices being hardcore. Coach Collins said all week that we were going against the best coach in Northern NV, Coach Lunstrom. Manogue was the two time defending State Champs. They were 2-4 on the season and everyone thought we had it in the bag, but we knew it was going to be hell. When our team started arriving at the high school and walking into the pit to get our gear, there was no talking. The 50 minutes to Manogue High School, that at the time was located below UNR, was still complete silence. Not because our coach said to shut up but it was just that tense. There was a lot on the line and this could be the 1st time to beat Manogue since I want to say 1983. When we arrived I remember the school being old but it was a sight and very eye-catching. The JV game was about to start but many of us stayed on the bus longer than usual. About an hour after we got there we were gathering to go into the visiting locker room. This was my first experience in the locker room. The locker room was made of stone and cement it was very cold and rickety but you could feel everything about it. It made the situation that much more intense. It felt like we were getting ready at a school of just pure tradition, one of the best football programs in NV history. We got dressed in complete silence. Then you could hear cleats start hitting the ground. We lined up in single filed line and we walked out to I want to say the softball fields to start warming up. We passed right by the home locker room of the Manogue Minors. When we got to the field we did our basic warm ups, nothing to special, and nothing different. After we were done we actually passed the Manogue team and the two teams stared each other down. They were stares of respect. As I passed by I remember slapping hands with Nate Donahue. I respected Donahue and played against him for 4 years. As we walked back into the visiting locker room and finished getting geared up, we went over the game plan. Like we did every game. Our special teams coach would give his pregame speech like always. Everybody knew what was on the line and no motivation was really needed. As we hit the field the JV game had just ended. We warmed up then Shawn Wallace, myself and Dustin Pugh went out to the coin toss to meet the Manogue captains, Nate Donahue and Montel Washington. Honestly I couldn’t tell you who won the coin toss. What I can remember about the actual game is that it was a defensive battle. We got on the board 1st, in the 1st quarter with a safety. I believe it was Kevin York that tackled the QB in the end zone. He was a standout Junior Offensive and Defensive Tackle. The game went back and forth and they missed 2 field goals. On their 3rd field goal attempt they tried to fake it. The kicker faked the kick and holder pulled it and reversed pivot and tried to get around the right end figuring that we would go for the block but were ready and shut it down. At the end of the1st quarter the score was Truckee 2 Manogue 0. The 2nd quarter was also a defensive battle. Both teams were just trying to gain good field position but were unsuccessful. Finally we got a drive going late in 2nd quarter. We drove about 70 to 80 yards and with less than a minute left we were faced with a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line. We were stopped. We tried to run a waggle play and Jose was sacked. That was the 2nd time we were stopped inside our 20 in this game. We should have been up 9-0 at halftime. Manogue also struggled and came up empty on 3 chances inside their 35. At halftime the score was Truckee 2 Manogue 0. I remember being frustrated, most of the team was frustrated but stayed cool. We knew we could score we just hadn’t done it yet. Most of the halftime adjustments were spent on the offensive side of the ball. We figured Manogue was keying on our guards so we had to adjust our blocking assignments. If I remember right the 2nd half started the same as the first, as a defensive battle. Not much changed as both defenses were dominating. By the end of the 3rd quarter the score was Truckee 2 Manogue 0. The 4th quarter started out with a bang as we recovered a fumble at about our 40 yard line. Then we broke a counter for about 25 yards to about the Manogue 35. I remember thinking ok this is it, we got this, but on the very next play we turned the ball over. It was a total fluke, one of the weirdest plays in my opinion. For some reason we ran to the wrong side. There was a miscommunication and we fumbled the ball. Monogue recovered the ball on about the 35, another opportunity missed. We were able to hold Manogue to a 3 and out. Now with about 9 minutes left in the game we took over and it finally seemed like we just started clicking. With possession on about our own 30, we drove down the field with ease. On 2nd down and 2 we hit Shawn Wallace on a post for a 39 yard touchdown pass. Extra point was good and made it Truckee 9 Manogue 0. On the ensuing drive Manogue did nothing on their 1st 3 plays. So down by 2 scores and being desperate they went for it on 4th and 10. The quarterback dropped back and throw a fade and I was in perfect position to make the interception. I jumped to the highest point I could, but I jumped to early and the Manogue wide receiver made a great play coming down with the catch. It seemed, because of my miscue, that Manogue caught fire and they scored 3 plays later. They went for 2 and made it and with about 3 minutes left in the game the score was now Truckee 9 Manogue 8. On the ensuing kick off during the return we fumbled the ball and Manogue recovered (flash back of the Minor miracle in 1982) and Manogue got the ball. The drive started deep in our territory and on the very 1st play the quarterback hit the tightend for a 30 yard touchdown pass and the lead. They went for 2 on the point after and again it was good. The score Manogue16 Truckee 9. Now I remember thinking there is about 2 minutes left in the game and our season. We might not make the playoffs even though we came into the game undefeated at 7 and 0. So Manogue kicked off and we returned it to like the 25.
We now needed to go 75 yards in 2 minutes. I remember as we were running out to the huddle, Dustin Pugh was fired up and kept saying, “we got to get this done come on!” We started with 3 straight incomplete passes and now it was 4th down. We’re down to the last play. We had wide receiver Shawn Wallace split to the right, and I was split to the left. We were trying to get the safety to cheat to Shawn’s side. We knew he would key on Shawn. So coach split me out to the left. As the ball was snapped Shawn ran a fade knowing he would be double covered. Then I ran a post to the left into the free safety’s zone knowing it would be vacated. Jose throw the ball and as it was coming down the defensive back came from behind and tackled me before the ball had arrived. As I was getting up I started looking for yellow and with relief it was called a 15 yard pass interference. The drive stayed alive. After that Jose picked the defense apart, I do remember that. With about 1:39 left in the game Cruz hit Wallace for a 39 yard pass play. The very next play he hit tight end Adasha Garcia for 27 yards down to the Manogue 12. On the next play Cruz hit Wallace again for an 11 yard pass down to the 1 yard line and with :51 seconds left Cruz took it over for a quarterback sneak and a touchdown. Score Manogue 16 Truckee 15 and we called time out. Coach came to the huddle and looked at us and asked 1 or 2? We all said 2 there was no hesitation! So on the biggest play of the year we ran a wing right zap 6 33 belly to Dustin Pugh for a successful 2 point conversion and the win! I remember on that play breaking the huddle, they had to know it was coming. Nate Donahue had blitzed strong side and we ran to the weak side and that’s what made it wide open. That play was our bread and butter play all year long! I also believe that that play changed Truckee High School Football forever. That play on that day changed our program and took it to the next level. I believe the zap 6 33 belly should be framed and imprinted in the Truckee football locker room. Because of that one play we are able to have the history and Truckee pride, and thanks to the future classes we are able to be proud of that season and…..that one play! The Wolverine Miracle of 89!!!
The last game of the year Truckee faced Whittel and shut them out 21-0 winning the division and setting up home field throughout the playoffs. Whittel did not have a JV team so I got to play in this game and when I got in I made my first Varsity Tackle. The Whittel coaches must have spotted me on the field and they ran a reverse my way. I stayed home and cut the guy down making a takile for loss. The first guy to greet me was #42 Dustin Pugh. He pumped me up and made me feel like I was on the team the whole season. It was an honor to be on the same field with these guys. The next week Truckee hosted Hawthorne in the first round of the playoffs and shut them out 41-0. Then they would dominate White Pine in the semi finals 47-14. This would set up the State Championship vs Boulder City. The game was played at Surprise Stadium and it would be the last time a Nevada State Championship would ever be played in California. The 1987 State Championship was played at North Tahoe. Surprise Stadium was packed full of Truckee faithful and Alumni. It was a very close game and the crowd was loud. I had the best seat in the house as I was brought up from JV’s for the playoff run. This was the first time JV players were brought for playoff experience. Since 89 it has been very beneficial bringing up JV players for the playoff run to get a jump start on their Varsity careers and see how things are done at the next level. I was brought up with: Andy Siefker, Sean Thompson, Shane Brumbeck, and Josh Clevenger who was a freshman. We all got to play the three previous games with the lopsided scores and had the time of our lives. However, we had no business being on the field in the next game.
Boulder City was the underdog coming into Truckee 500 plus miles away from home and 4,000 feet higher in elevation. It is always difficult for Southern teams to make the travel to Truckee and beat them. In fact, I can’t think of a southern team that has made the trip and beat Truckee in the North since Boulder City pulled it off in November of 1989. Even more impressive was that Boulder City traveled up to Lowry the previous week to beat a pretty good Buckaroo team. Boulder City beat a good North Tahoe team at home in the first round of the playoffs. It wouldn’t take long for Boulder to let the town of Truckee know that they were the real deal as their star tailback Jason Baratcart broke six different tackles and rambled 38 yards for the game’s first score. Boulder would threaten again but after a Goalline stand Truckee took the ball over at the 3 yard line. Truckee, led by Jose Cruz and Dustin Pugh, went 97 yards on 15 plays to tie the game. From this point it was back and forth but Boulder would have the lead at halftime 14-7 and had the momentum. But Truckee made adjustments at halftime and was able to capitalize on a Boulder City fumble on the opening 2nd half kickoff. Truckee was quickly up in the 3rd quarter 21-14. But then things got weird. On the ensuing kickoff Truckee made the tackle and Boulder appeared to have fumbled but the players all stopped as the whistle apparently had blown. However, a player from Boulder City picked up the ball and ran up the sideline for a 78 yard Touchdown return. Everyone in the Stadium was Surprised and puzzled. After some discussion with the referees Estabrook would walk away frustrated. Suddenly it was a 21-21 game and Boulder City recaptured the momentum. Truckee on their next possession was forced to punt. Boulder City returned the punt for another special teams touchdown. Boulder City was now up 28-21 but Truckee was not done.
After some Boulder City personal fouls Matt Estabrook scored a touchdown with 3:27 to play. What many don’t know is that Matt Estabrook hurt his ankle in the first quarter on his first carry of the game. Thinking it was a sprain his ankle was taped up and he finished the game. It turns out that he played the entire game on a broken ankle. After the Estabrook score, Coach Estabrook would then make the call of the game going for the win. Dustin Pugh carried the ball on the two-point conversion and Truckee went up 29-28. Truckee would need their defense to hold for 3 minutes and the Wolverines would win their 2nd State Championship. However, that didn’t happen. Boulder City had Baratcart run a seam rout out of the backfield. There was a breakdown in responsibilities and Baratcart ran wide open down the middle of the field for the long TD pass and the win. Boulder Scored pretty quickly and there was still enough time on the clock for Truckee put a drive together and get a score. Truckee got a pretty good Kickoff return and the Wolverines had pretty good field position. But when Cruz went to the air looking for Wallace Boulder was waiting for it and he threw an interception. Boulder City ran out the clock and the unthinkable had taken place. The Wolverines fought their tails off and should have won the State Championship. There is still a lot of bitterness and pain that comes with that loss to Boulder City. The 89 team was groomed all the way through the lower levels to be a Championship team and when it didn’t happen it was devastating for all of us. This team not only had a lot of success at the JV level but also when they were Pioneers. They worked their butts off for that moment that would never come and I know talking to some of these guys that it still hurts. Though Truckee lost this game it was a great game and the beginning of what would now be the most successful program in Nevada the past 23 years IMO. The 89 team set the tone for what was to come and will always be in the discussion of the best team ever. One thing is for certain they were true Pioneers and the motto “Truckee Pride” was born.
Matt Estabrook turns the corner and eyes paydirt against Hawthorne.
Coach Estabrook put this in the Sierra Sun the week after the loss to Boulder City:
“On Saturday, November 18, the Truckee community pulled together for something that was not political, controversial, or self-serving. It wasn’t about the bye-pass, a new shopping center or incorporation; it was about our kids and a community that can pull together regardless of political differences.
Over 2,000 people turned out for a local football game, the only reason being to support our high school. The football team wasn’t able to deliver the Nevada AA State Championship to Truckee, but it did deliver a sense of pride to the Truckee Community. It also delivered a chance to reflect on what a great place this is to live, and that the small town spirit is alive and important to us all.
The effort by the TnT leadership class, cheerleaders, student body and the new TnT band didn’t go unnoticed.
Let’s not drift back into our old habits. Let’s keep track of what’s going on at our local schools. There are athletic events, concerts, plays, and academic competitions. It’s old-fashioned fun, and it fits our community.
Our team’s motto is “Truckee Pride.” Think about it. We all have it.
Thanks to everyone for your support.”
The top team break by the players today is “Truckee Pride” It started with coach Estabrook and can be heard at every Truckee practice to this day. It is a town concept, a community concept, and something we all have. It is the name of our website. Coach Estabrook is a class act and I am honored to have played for him and coached under him. I have the upmost respect for him and what he has done for me and the many lives he has touched.
1980’s Rap Up
The 1980’s were by far the most successful years of the program to this point. A lot took place: The Wolverines returned to Nevada to play their games, silver becomes a school color, the T was formed at the south end of Surprise, they went to their first post season, competed in 3 State Championship games, and won their first State Championship. Truckee had 5 different head coaches in the 80’s and posted a 66-31 win loss record. This brings Truckee’s school win loss record to 152 wins, 167 losses, and 2 ties. Truckee starts the win streak over rival North Tahoe that to this day has not been broken. Truckee toped NT in the rivalry 6 to 4 in the 80’s, taking the record to 7 wins for Truckee and 9 wins for North Tahoe. Coach Estabrook in 1989 started an era of success that has continued into 3 decades. The 1980’s was the beginning of what is now a Winning Tradition.