The New Millennium 2000’s

TOP LEFT: Jesse Helsdon, Kevin Schlesinger, David Larson, Dustin Passalalpi, Robert Acevedo, Billy Wrenn, Jacob McCauley, Dane Molina, Rocky Watson, Mike Holmes, COACHES: Winchester, Bob Orth, Fertitta, Smith, Shaffer Jr., Shaffer, Collins, Ivens, DeCoite, York, Dow, Estabrook, 3RD ROW LEFT:Evan Birchard, Brian Kendrick, Paul Smith, Gary Cook, TJ Dwyer, Kevin Suter, Brendan McVey, Jason Ames, Ryan Ochoa, Jimmy Curtis, Eric Detwiler, FRONT LEFT: Mike Ochoa, Casey Nelson, Danny Tolen, Henry Gonzalez, Kellen Babb, Franky Calderon, Lance Rakich, Danny Shannon,

2000: 7-3 (7-1 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Semi-Finals appearance 

As we all rocked out to Prince December 31st 1999, we all wondered what would actually take place when that Ball dropped in New York.  The Y2K rumor suggested that every computer would crash when the date hit January 1st, 2000.  The problem was tied to formatting and storage of calendar data.  It turns out the world didn’t end, computers did not crash, and the Truckee Wolverines were still grinding through their offseason training looking to capture their 6th State Title.  As we passed from one millennium to the next, there was no “Glitch” in Wolverine Country!  However, in the coming months many off-season questions about the Wolverines would need to be answered.  The first question, who would be the 1st QB of the Millennium?  The second question would be, what would the 3A look like?  The NIAA was up for realignment and their were rumors that Lowry would be dropping back down to the 3A. The third question would be, who would emerge as the leaders of the 2000 Wolverines?

The 2000 season was coach Shaffer’s 6th season as the head coach.  He wouldn’t wait long to make one of the biggest decisions of the season.  Shaffer would announce in the offseason that he would be moving up the sophomore QB Kevin Schlesinger who stood 6’2″ and weighed 200 pounds.  He passed the eye test no doubt.  Being a JV coach and watching him as a freshman I already knew he was the real deal.  So, I was not surprised that Kevin was moved up.  When Shaffer brings up a young player it’s not to sit the bench.  So, question number one answered…Kevin Schlesinger would lead the Wolverines through Y2K.  Shaffer would also make an interesting move with his coaching staff in 2000.  In an offseason clinic he was presented with the idea of a split staff.  The idea was to split your coaching staff into offense and defense.  The 2 sides would coach both the Varsity and JV teams.  When the Varsity team was with the defensive staff, the JV team was with the offensive staff and vice versa.  I was very excited about the move because I had coached the juniors and seniors my first year back coaching in 98 and really enjoyed this group of players.  Especially the junior class who I had now coached for 2 seasons.  It also allowed me to build up relationships with the younger guys as well.  So, I was all for the move.  Time would tell if the move would be beneficial.

Also on the table for 2000 was the realignment of the NIAA.  Specifically the 3A would see the most movement.  In 1999 the 3A was comprised of 3 divisions and 18 schools.  With the new enrollment rule putting schools from 461-1,200 into the 3A several teams moved down to the 2A and Lowry would drop from the 4A to the 3A.  Schools leaving the 3A: Hawthorne, White Pine, Battle Mountain, Incline, and Lovelock.  This move would make the 3A the smallest division in the State at 13 schools.  The 13 schools were then split into Northern and Southern Divisions.  Truckee obviously falling into the North with: Lowry, Fernley, Spring Creek, North Tahoe, Yerington, Manogue, and ROP.  ROP’s enrollment at just 210.  I’m guessing they stayed in the 3A because they are an all boys school.  What does all this mean?  Two things, the first was that Truckee no longer had a preseason schedule to work with.  Usually we had 4 preseason games to get ready for a league opponent, which the past 2 seasons prepared us pretty well for our division.  We’d now have just one preseason game in Las Plumas.  Secondly, this meant the competition would go up as well and the fight for playoff spots would be tough.  This was the case for the 2000 season in the Northern Division.

To this point I’ve covered 48 years of Wolverine football.  I know there are still holes in my research and I hope to plug in the information as I find it.  The one thing I find most fascinating in all the reading I have done is the stories behind each team.  Each team has their story and their legacy that contributes to the bigger picture of the Truckee Football Tradition.  Whether it is a great season or a season of disappointment, each story has revealed Truckee Pride and that there is no Tradition like Truckee tradition!  I think looking back on this 2000 team it would be a combination of disappointment and greatness. This team, like all football teams, battled adversity throughout the season.  For the most part they overcame that adversity.  Also, this team relied heavily on their youth and through all of the adversity and challenges, it set them up for great success in 2001.  However, when it is all said and done the 2000 season will be haunted and remembered as the season we lost to Spring Creek twice at home.  I have no doubt that this Truckee team would have given Moapa Valley a run for their money in the State Game in the year 2000 but the Wolverines fell short.  This is the story of the 2000 Wolverines.

As for the outlook of the 2000 Truckee Wolverines, it did feel in the off-season that they had a solid group coming back from the 1999 season.  It was a small team of just 28 players and though Truckee’s enrollment was at 840 students the football program was at just 64 players.  The Varsity was balanced with 14 seniors, 12 juniors and the 2 sophomores.  Jason Ames was the second sophomore that was moved up with Schlesinger.  If you remember from the 99 team it lacked seniors and was considered a young team.  So, the question heading into 2000 would be did the seniors learn enough from their junior season to assume a leadership role and get Truckee back into the State Championship?  Though the team was balanced with juniors and seniors, they were young at the most important position…QB.  But this team featured a big offensive line, four of which were starters last season and a 3 year Varsity running back in Casey Nelson.  Nelson ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and was coming off a huge junior season.  Being his senior year Nelson was projected to have a huge season and keep the pressure of our young QB.  Nelson and the experienced O-line would be the driving force being the 2000 Wolverines.

The 2000 Captains 

Casey Nelson

Casey Nelson running hard vs Fernley in 2000

As mentioned earlier, Casey Nelson was a 3 year Varsity player.  He might be the best Return man Truckee has ever seen and he ran a legit 4.6 40 yard dash.  He was an explosive football player and he was also a skier making his legs extremely strong.  He was not the biggest guy but he was one of the stronger players in the weight room.  Given his hard work in the offseason and potential to have a huge senior year Nelson was voted in as captain by his peers.  Nelson was a TD machine his junior year and was looking to cement his legacy in Truckee history as one of the top scorers of All-Time.  If you combine his experience with the fact that he was on the 98 State Championship team he would make a perfect captain for the 2000 season.

Robert Acevedo

The Acevedo family has deep roots in Truckee. Robert would play at D3 Linfield in Oregon.

Also on the 98 State Championship team as a starter was Robert Acevedo.  He was a 3 year starter up front and would be leaned on heavily his senior season.  He stood at 6’4, 230 pounds, and was a monster in the weight room.  The combination of these things would earn him the respect to lead his team in 2000 as a captain.  Acevedo would go on to play college football at the University of Linfield who was and still is a D3 power house up in Oregon.  Acevedo won a National Championship with the Wildcats in 2004 beating Mary Hardin-Baylor 28-21.  Acevedo spent his first years out of High School trying to get on UNR’s football team but eventually settled on a smaller school where he would have more success.  Acevedo had a great football career at Truckee and was more than deserving to be a captain.

Jacob McCauley

Jacob’s uncle and father both played Truckee football for coach Stewart in the 70’s

Jacob was a grinder for the Wolverines.  He was an old school type of player.  At 6’1 and 280 pounds McCauley would head into his senior year very focused working harder than he ever had in the weight room in the offseason.  He started on the offensive line his junior year and was primed to make a big impact on both sides of the ball his senior year.  Jacob is one of those players who you are very happy he’s on your team and not on the opponents side.  You just knew, when healthy, he was going to dominate in the trenches and for that his peers voted him in as a captain his senior year.

Young note worthy players

There were 3 juniors on the 2000 team that were brought up as sophomores and they made a big impact on the 2000 team.  Those players were Eric Detwiler, David Larson, and Kevin Suter.  Evan Birchard was another junior on this team that would be leaned on heavily.  Eric Detwiler was a dominating force on for the Wolverines for 3 seasons.  In fact his linebacker coach and defensive coordinator for the Wolverines, Gary Collins, stated that “Eric Detwiler was by far the best and most dominating player he had ever coached.”  I think this says a lot about Eric because coach Collins has coached many great defensive players.  David Larson started at corner his sophomore season and moved to the FS spot in 2000 where he would dominate for 2 seasons.

GAME 1: TRUCKEE AT LAS PLUMAS (Truckee lost, no info)

Truckee opened up the 2000 season with a loss to Las Plumas.  This was the team’s 3rd matchup.  Truckee dominated the first two seasons but the Thunderbirds avenged 2 years of losing to the Wolverines.  For Truckee it was not the way they wanted to start their season.  Truckee knew coming into the season that they had young players who needed game experience.  Coach Shaffer was quoted in the paper that he felt this Truckee team could have a slow start to their season but figured to be in playoff form towards the end of the season.  The Sierra Sun did not cover the football games very well in 2000.  Some games are missing and others have very little detail.  The Las Plumas game is one of those games that is missing.  So, I have no information or details on this game.  I do know Truckee lost.


In week two Truckee would look to rebound but they would have to do it against the 3A State Champions Manogue Minors.  Manogue had challenges of their own that they would need to overcome if they were going to be repeat State Champions.  Manogue’s first challenge was that they would have to replace 22 graduating seniors.  That’s a huge thing to overcome.  Secondly their head coach, Tony Amantia, moved on to rebuild the Wooster High football program.  So, it would be up to Bill Branca to keep things rolling at Manogue.  On this day it was all Truckee.  Casey Nelson had a huge day rushing the ball just 6 times for 186 yards and 2 TD’s.  The sophomore QB, Kevin Schlesinger, would also connect with Nelson on a 95 yard TD pass.  At the time it was a school record.  The record has since been broken by Pat Shaffer’s 98 yard TD pass to Braden Watters in 2011 at Fernley.  The pass from Shaffer to Watters was setup by multiple penalties that would move the ball half the distance several times.  Then coach Shaffer called the famous 47 waggle pass and the play went the distance.  Most coaches run the ball in that situation but not coach Shaffer.  In the Manogue game it sounded like almost the same situation.  The Wolverines started out the game with a hold and 2 procedure calls and were backed up to the 5 yard line.  Again most coaches run the ball and try to make room to punt.  Shaffer calls Right 733 Belly Waggle Pass, which the paper described as “misdirection”.  Nelson caught the pass and raced 95 yards to the end zone for Truckee’s first score.  Evan Birchard, who started at the fullback spot, rushed 12 times for 64 yards and 2 TD’s.  The Wolverines Rolled up 572 yards of total offense and ran away with the victory. The Minors did put up 206 yards but it did not amount to points and Truckee rolled over the Champs 44-7.  It was a good game to get back on track.  Shaffer mentioned in his comments that Schlesinger played much better and he also gave recognition to the offensive line.  Schlesinger was 5 for 11 with 178 yards and a TD.  Coach Shaffer also seamed concerned that Truckee did not sustain drives.  Most of their scores were on big plays.  Up next was Spring Creek.


The Spring Creek offense took advantage of Truckee’s mistakes

Truckee was 1-1 heading into the matchup with the Spartans.  Spring Creek had size up front and they were a physical team.  In the interviews with coach Shaffer he was most definitely concerned with Spring Creek.  Those that remember this game and remember the second game with Spring Creek might only remember the ending.  The story of the first matchup was more about turnovers.  Truckee turned the ball over 6 times and Spring Creek did not make a mistake.  The fact that Truckee even had a chance to win was surprising.  The Wolverines would also out gain the Spartans 338 yards to 210.  Truckee stalled out many drives with turnovers and gave up vital field position in the process.  Spring Creek’s second TD was setup from an interception that was returned down to the Truckee 6 yard line.  The Spartan’s 3rd TD was

Detwiler looking to score in a tight game with Spring Creek

setup on a Truckee fumble at their own 32 yard line.  However, Truckee would keep the game close regardless of the turnovers.  David Larson and Evan Birchard stepped up when senior running back, Casey Nelson, went down with a bad ankle injury.  Larson scored both of Truckee’s touchdowns.  His second TD was a 35 yard reception in the 4th quarter to bring the Wolverines within a score.  Birchard had 20 carries for 105 yards on the day.  This game would then comedown to the last drive of the game.  The Wolverines took over at their own 15 yard line with under 3 minutes left.  Schlesinger was able to drive the Wolverines 82 yards down to the Spartan 3 yard line and it looked like Truckee was going to pullout the win.  But a Truckee player jumped offsides and it changed the situation drastically.  The next play Schlesinger threw an incomplete pass and time expired.  It was a devastating loss and I will never forget the young jovial Head coach for Spring Creek sprinting out of the booth yelling “I can’t believe we just beat Truckee in Truckee!”  He repeated this all the way down the stairs leaving a very bad taste in Surprise Stadium.  Luckily for the Wolverines they could lick their wounds during the bye week.


Again, there is not a lot of coverage of the 2000 season.  The Dayton game had a little writeup in the Sierra Sun.  Truckee struggled early in this game and did not score until the second quarter when David Larson, the junior, took over.  He scored on a 22 yard run and a 7 yard pass from Schlesinger.  Truckee’s lead at halftime was only 12 points.  The game changer was the opening kickoff of the second half when Evan Birchard took it 90 yards for touchdown.  This gave Truckee the second half momentum and destroyed any hopes that the Dust Devils could make a comeback.  Birchard had 3 TD’s on the day.  Molina and Schlesinger also scored on the ground.  It was a good game to have after a bye week and get things back on track as the Vaqueros were coming to town for Game 5.


Evan Birchard breaks away against Fernley

Truckee wins their second straight game over rival Fernley.  Though the Wolverines had their ups and downs, they won in dominating fashion.  Fernley was never in this game and in front of their home crowd Truckee wins their second straight league game taking their record to 3-1 and 3-2 overall.  Evan Birchard put together a huge game rushing for 151 yards on 13 careers.  Birchard also tallied 3 TD’s for the second straight week.  Casey Nelson was back in action in this game also scoring a TD.  Though the Wolverines have things to work on.  They are in a good spot and will face Yerington at home next week.


#9 Nelson running strong after missing time from an injury

Truckee has now hit their stride and they are in mid-season form.  The Yerington Lions made the trip to Truckee and did not put up much of a fight.  Truckee dominated in all facets of the game.  Both the defense and special teams had big contributions in the big win that gave Truckee their 3rd victory in a row.  After Yerington scored first Truckee took

Kevin Suter carries the ball vs Yerington.  Suter tranfsered to McQueen after his junior year.

over quick when Birchard scored the Wolverine’s first TD.  Later in the game Birchard scored again on a big special teams play when he took a punt return 80 yards for the score.  Also having a big day was Casey Nelson who is now looking like the Nelson before his injury.  Casey scored from 48 yards out.  Then it was the defense’s turn when Danny Shannon took an interception to the house from 22 yards out.  Also scoring TD’s in this game was Gary Cook who caught a pass from Schlesinger for a 44 yard TD.  Frankly Calderon capped off the scoring with the final TD.  This was the type of game Truckee was used to having.  Truckee rolled up the Lions and was able rest players and give backups valuable game experience.  Truckee improved to 4-1 in league play and 4-2 overall.  Next up Truckee will travel to RPO.


In a cold miserable game out in Yerington the Wolverines struggled to warmup and for the second week in a row Truckee’s opponent would score first.  The Wolverines did not start well and it took until the second quarter before Truckee got things going.  After the ROP Rams scored first Truckee’s Dane Molina plunged into the end zone to even the score.  Eric Detwiler was successful on a 2 point conversion and Truckee went up 8-6.  Truckee continued to dominate the rest of the game.  Evan Birchard scored Truckee’s second TD followed by another Molina TD.  Birchard scored again late in the game along with Franky Calderon.  Gary Cook also connected on a 33 yard filed goal to top all the scoring.  The Wolverines will now take on Lowry who they are tied with for second place.


The Wolverines take the field after halftime vs Lowry

One thing you always have to be prepared for in Truckee is weather.  It’s usually rare to not have at least one game in rain and snow at Surprise Stadium.  In 2000 this game came

Truckee going for the block as Lowry punts from deep in their own territory

against Lowry in battle that would determine the second seed in the Northern Nevada 3A.  This was a much anticipated matchup as both schools were tied for second place.  After a slow start by both teams it was Truckee who struck first on an Evan Birchard TD.  The Buckaroos would answer the Wolverines with a 10 yard pass but that would be it for Lowry.  The game was close at halftime with the Wolverines up 14-6.  The warmth of the locker room was more inviting for the Buckaroos as they struggled in the second half of play.  Truckee’s defense

#6 McVey preparing for contact vs Lowry. The win vs Lowry setup the League Championship at NT.

came to play and put together maybe their best performance of the season.  In wet and muddy conditions the Wolverines would rollup the Buckaroos.  This day was about hardcore Truckee defense and Casey Nelson who scored another 2 touchdowns for Truckee.  Truckee now 6-1 in league and 6-2 overall is in soul possession of 2nd place.  Up next is the Little Big Game vs North Tahoe.


The Lakers made their way onto our field and vandalized our T. This just fueled the fire.  Rivalry Week

After last year’s near upset of the Wolverines, North Tahoe was set to make the 2000 season the year they beat Truckee.  Last season North Tahoe appeared to have Truckee beat after a Casey Nelson fumble.  However, the officials ruled Nelson down and Truckee maintained possession of the football.  The Wolverines would score soon after that and go on to win.  I know this left a bad taste in the Laker’s mouth.  If there was ever a season that North Tahoe had the advantage to beat Truckee it was the year 2000.  The Lakers gave themselves a nickname in 2000.  They called themselves the “Dream Team”.  North Tahoe was undefeated in league coming into the Little Big Game.  They had the MVP of the league at QB in Billy Freeman and the Offensive Player of the Year in Brian Collins who was leading the State in rushing with 1,175 yards.  The Lakers had a big and experienced offensive line.  They were balanced on offense which is why they ran through the North with little resistance.  To say the Lakers were confident was an understatement.  However, they were about to face the Wolverines who had the Defensive Player of the year in Eric Detwiler.  Eric was the best linebacker in the State as a junior.  More importantly Truckee had the coach of the Year, Bob Shaffer.  Truckee was also on a 13 game win streak over North Tahoe and they were not about to concede that streak.  Truckee proved the week before that they will not go down easy when they beat Lowry in dominating fashion.  Not only was this game big because of the rivalry, it had huge implications in seeding for the playoffs.  Lowry and Spring Creek were also playing the last week of league play and all teams were still in the hunt for the playoffs.  The only team guaranteed a spot in the playoffs were the Lakers.  So, the stage was set for a big game on this early November day.

North Tahoe was tops in the State in rushing but it was Truckee’s run game that took over and dominated the game.

Early in the morning before the JV kickoff North Tahoe had brought in a helicopter to help dry off the field.  It was a wet week and Mother Nature dropped some snow before the game.  The North Tahoe parents did a great job of getting the field ready for the big game.  Though things were pretty muddy, field conditions would not be a factor in the matchup.  The big question was whether or not Truckee could slow down the Laker run game.  Detwiler and the Truckee defense would step up to the challenge and answer the call. Brian Collins rushed for just 34 yards on 18 carries.  No one had been able to slow down Collins and the Lakers to this point. Collins was running all over teams throughout the year but the Wolverines were not about to let that take place.  The game lived up to the hype in the first half as Truckee was up 7-6 in a tight game.  In the second half Truckee would flex and they started pulling away from North Tahoe.  Early in the 3rd quarter Casey Nelson, getting a key block from Paul Smith, went 68 yards for his second score of the day.  Nelson who was limited most of the season with an ankle injury had a big game when Truckee needed him most.

The coaches address the team after another big win over North Tahoe making it 14 straight wins.

Nelson finished with 153 yards on 19 carries and scored all 3 TD’s for the Wolverines.  Gary Cook hit a 28 yard field goal in the 3rd quarter to close out the scoring for Truckee.  For North Tahoe, Truckee made them one dimensional on offense and Freeman took advantage of that putting together a solid game.  Freeman was 16 of 26 for 236 yards and a TD.  It wasn’t enough to beat Truckee and the Lakers would now have to travel south to face the Moapa Valley Pirates.  For Truckee they won the Northern league title and would now host the Spring Creek Spartans in the Semi-Finals.  In 2000 there was only one playoff game before you made it to State.  Both Truckee and North Tahoe were expected to win in the Semi-Finals the following week to setup a rematch of the 93 State game, but that didn’t happen.  This would be the last real chance North Tahoe had of beating Truckee.  Though the rivalry stayed competitive for a couple more years, the Lakers struggled to matchup with the Wolverines.


Mike Holmes almost gets a piece of the Spartan punt.

The rematch Truckee had been waiting for had finally arrived.  Coach Shaffer had mentioned a few times in the papers that he was seeking a rematch with Spring Creek to rectify their week 3 loss.  In the first matchup Truckee had a chance to score with just seconds on the clock but the Wolverines jumped offsides creating a much different scenario.  Truckee also had 6 turnovers and the Spartans went away with the victory.  This matchup started out slow for both teams and became a defensive battle.  Neither team could get the ball into the end zone in the 1st quarter and both teams struggled to get a first down.  Eventually it was the Spartans who scored first about midway through the 2nd quarter.  The halftime score was 7-0 and it did not feel like Truckee’s day.  When the 2 teams came out of the locker room for the second half the large faithful home crowd did not get much to cheer for as the Wolverines struggled to move the ball.  Then with about 4 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter Truckee finally put a drive together and capped it off on a Casey Nelson plunge into the end zone.  Truckee was unsuccessful on the point after and the score was 7-6.  The score would stay the same for much of the game.  Spring Creek had gone into a ball control offense with 2 TE’s, multiple sniffers and Schumacher behind the QB.  The Spartans were gaining little by little and Truckee could not get the stop they needed.  Once Spring Creek got on the opposite side of the 50 it was 4 down territory and Truckee could not slow them down enough to get off the field.  Schumacher would eventually score with just 5 minutes left to play to make the score 14-6.  At this point the snow was falling and some fans started to retreat to their cars as Truckee would make one last gasp to keep their season alive.  The Wolverines would get inside the 5 yard line with seconds left to go but Schlesinger would throw an interception in the end zone to end the game.  Truckee just did not have an answer to stop Spring Creek’s power and it limited offensive possessions for the Wolverines.  Truckee couldn’t get things going and fell to Spring Creek for the second time.  In just his second season Joel Jund would take the Spartans to the State Championship.  However, they would fall to Moapa Valley the next week.


Cook Punted for the Rebels for four seasons.

One of the most promising stories to come out of the 2000 season was Gary Cook’s kicking abilities that landed him a spot on the UNLV Rebel’s roster.  Gary earned himself a scholarship at UNLV and kicked his way to a free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.  Though he didn’t make the final cut he did get reps and earned himself respect.  If is wasn’t for an All-Pro punter already on the Raiders roster, I believe Cook would have made the team.  Cook continued to get attention at the professional level but after being cut by the Raiders Gary decided not to follow the through with a punting career in the NFL.  Though his professional career was shorted lived, Cook is one of 2 Truckee graduates to make it to the NFL.  The other is Ted Popson who played for the Niners and the Chiefs through the 90’s.

Tracking one young Raider’s run


Eric Detwiler- Defensive MVP

Kellen Babb- DB

David Larson- DB

Robert Acevedo- DT

Kicker- Gary Cook


Evan Birchard- RB

James Curtis- OL

Gary Cook- Punter

2000 RECAP:

Dane Molina runs the ball against Fernely

The Millennium started out pretty well for the Wolverines.  Truckee knew they had a challenge ahead of them in the year 2000 but ultimately had success.  In a season where the Wolverines were banking on young talent and a sophomore at QB, they put together an impressive run.  They were 8 points away from a State Championship and won the League Championship.  Maybe the most important thing the 2000 team accomplished was the win over North Tahoe.  North Tahoe had everything they needed to beat Truckee.  They were playing at home for the second straight year.  They had the guys up front and great athletes at all the key positions.  They were undefeated and had the momentum.  Heck it was their “Dream Team”!  In the end it was Truckee who produced yet another nightmare for the lakers and to this day the Lakers haven’t beat Truckee.  WOLVERINES!!!

TOP LEFT: Ian Wrenn, Jacob Bohart, Kevin Schlesinger, JR Murphy, David Larson, Travis Kramer, TJ Dwyer, Marco Reza. 2nd Row from Top: Jimmy DeCoite, Nate Englom, Jesse Helsdon, Jason Ames, Ryan Ochoa, Ryan Gunter, Eric Detwiler. 3rd Row from the top: Brad Sausser, Colin Flauta, Coach Garrow, Coach DeCoite, Coach Smith, Coach Shaffer, Coach Collins, Coach Branca, Ryan Campbell, Kellen Babb. 4th Row from the top: Kevin Finn, James Ward, RJ Ballou, Franky Calderon, Mike Acuff, Juan Aguilar, Henry Gonzales, Evan Birchard, Also Serna. Front Row: Juan Apolinar, Justin Vivian, Rafa Herrera, Adam Lindroth

 2001: 9-2 (7-1 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions

The Nevada Legislature Building in Carson City

What would a decade be without mentioning a movement, campaign, or conspiracy constructed by disgruntled schools of the NIAA over Truckee playing in Nevada?  While I was researching the 2001 season I stumbled across an article from the Spring of 1999.  Though the information might belong in the 99 write-up I am choosing to unveil the information here in 2001.  It was this campaign and its death that ultimately allowed for Truckee to continue its dominance throughout the new Millennium.  Though Truckee to this day continues to get harassed about being from California, they continue to play for Nevada State Championships.  That is because in 1999 the argument hit the Nevada State Senate and was finally put to rest.  It is important to understand that all Truckee athletics have benefitted the past 20 years from this decision. The 99 campaign would mark the 4th time schools have tried to get Truckee and North Tahoe out of the NIAA.  The time before this was in 1998 when Truckee was dominating in almost every sport (read my 1998 write-up to get all the details).  The 1998 movement was driven by Dave Hart and the Lyon County school district.  Hart’s campaign was voted down by the majority of the schools in the Nevada 3A and Truckee remained in Nevada.  This time the campaign was led by Jeff Knutson who was the head coach of the Moapa Valley football team at the time.  Knutson, who is a graduate of Fernley High School, has partnered with his old coach, Dave Hart, to lead the charge against California schools competing in the NIAA.  The last movement only focused on the removal of North Tahoe and Truckee.  The 1999 campaign focused on ALL California schools competing in Nevada and this time it came very close to passing.  It was so close to happening that Truckee’s AD, Kris Driesbeck, had already searched out the new CIF division that Truckee would be playing in.  The plan was set for Truckee to move to the Golden Empire League in the Sac Joaquin Section.  However, Knutson lost momentum because he included 1A, 2A, and 4A schools.  None of these leagues felt the same about California schools and the vote didn’t pass.  Truckee, along with the other California schools, would remain in the NIAA.

Bernice Matthews served in the Nevada State Senate from 1993 until 2010.

Jeff Knutson then vowed to take his case to the Nevada State Legislature.  Knutson did just that presenting his case in the form of Senate Bill 489 which would block California schools from competing for Nevada State Championships.  Though many compromises were suggested, ultimately the Nevada Senate did not want to act on this Bill.  The review committee sited that there has been no complaints from 1A, 2A, or 4A schools.  Bernice Matthews of the committee then noted that, “the overwhelming concern seems to involve Truckee’s almost perennial presence in the State 3A football Championship”.  Bernice Matthews recognized the motives behind SB489 and it was her input that shutdown the campaign.  Basically the Senate will not punish the rest of those involved because “certain” teams can’t beat Truckee’s football team.  Though there were suggestions and compromises mentioned, ultimately the committee sided with the California schools and not much changed.  Bill 489 was amended to allow for California schools to play for Nevada State Championships.  The only change was that the committee would empower the NIAA to create a 2nd Trophy for the top Nevada team.  So, if a California team won State, the top Nevada school would still win a trophy…A participation trophy if you will.  Thankfully the NIAA has not gone that route.  The discussion to remove Truckee from the NIAA has been around since we joined in 1981.  It should be noted that the relationship between Truckee High School and the NIAA has been good.  The issues or movements have come from disgruntled NIAA members…specifically those from Lion County School District.  Since 1999 the removal of California Schools from the NIAA has been mostly a non-discussion.

Let’s get back to talking football!  Though the Wolverines fell short in 2000, there was a feeling that Truckee overachieved.  They had a young team and their youth got valuable experience.  The most valuable was at QB.  Kevin Schlesinger was a sophomore in 2000 and he played every snap for the Wolverines giving him invaluable experience.  In the Sierra Sun pre-season review Shaffer acknowledges that the biggest improvement in 2001 will be at the QB position.  He talked quite a bit about being able to open up his offense in 2001 and keeping defenses out of the “box”.  Another improvement Shaffer would make would be with the Truckee uniforms.  Shaffer changed up the numbers going away from the double outline font from the Estabrook era and going with All-League Shadow Bold font.  Also, the stripes and T on the sleeve would be exchanged for blank sleeves.  It was a clean look that Shaffer would ride out for the next 12 seasons as the head coach.  Coach Shaffer also went back to a traditional coaching staff for the 2001 season.  Remember in 2000 Truckee was a split coaching staff of defensive and offensive coaches who coached both JV and Varsity.  Also to note with the 2001 season is that Truckee has 3 levels.  The Wolverines finally have the numbers to successfully field a freshman, JV, and Varsity team.  In the newspaper it says for the first time but that’s not true.  Truckee put together 3 levels for a couple seasons back in the early 70’s before the school split into North Tahoe and Truckee.  Also, the 2001 senior class was part of 3 or 4 freshman games in 98.  The reason I know that is because I was the defensive coordinator for this group.  Coach Wilson was the head coach and called the offense.  We had some struggles in 98 at the JV level and breaking away with the freshman was fun and it gave them the opportunity shine.

The Wolverines after Truckee Jacks getting hyped up before the State game.

My feeling on the 2001 team is that it was a 3 year process to get Truckee back on top.  Many younger players were moved up to Varsity to develop and compensate for lack of depth.  Even a sophomore was brought up in 2001.  JR Murphy, a sophomore, was brought up for the 01 season.  Murphy was a 6’4 athlete that would provide much needed kicking duties for Truckee.  He would also start at cornerback and be a big target for Schlesinger. Though this team had gaping holes up front and faced MAJOR injury issues, they ultimately put together one of the best seasons in our history.  In my opinion the 2001 team was the most unselfish team that’s ever come through Truckee.  Once the injury bug hit it spread through the team and many key players were hurt.  This forced Shaffer to reach out to some of his depth at running back and receiver to ask them to play O-line.  It takes a special group to buy into this and several players moved to establish the best offensive line that we could.  What other program in the US can ask a WR to play offensive tackle? The injuries also forced guys to step up and be factors who otherwise might have taken a backseat to stars.  Both Colin Flauta and Adam Lindroth would step up in times of need.  The “next man up” mentality and believing in the process helped the 2001 team overcome adversity and their shortcomings. The 2001 Wolverines were hungry, they would do whatever it took to win, and they were not to be denied.  According to Shaffer this was his most dedicated team in the weight room, throughout the summer, and to each other.  There were tons of doubters from the start of the season and that doubt continued all the way through this team’s last drive of the season when they marched 80 yards to score the go ahead TD in the State Championship Game.  Truckee scored with just 35 seconds left on the clock to capture their 7th State Championship!  This is the story of 2001 WOLVERINES!!!

2001 Captains

Eric Detwiler

Detwiler was the Nevada Defensive Player of the Year in 2000

The heart and soul of the 2001 team was Eric Detwiler.  Detwiler was a 3 year varsity player and the returning Nevada Defensive player of the Year.  He was an absolute terror on defense his junior year earning him the most coveted award in the State.  Truckee defines themselves by the way they play defense.  For years Truckee has fielded strong defensive squads that pride themselves on being violent and aggressive to the football.  The Wolverines also have a large list of very good middle linebackers.  Eric Detwiler is one of those backers.  Gary Collins, who was the linebacker coach at Truckee from 1989 to 2002, has stated that Eric Detwiler was the best linebacker he’s ever coached.  This is one heck of a statement considering some of the greats that coach Collins has worked with.  However, you wouldn’t question it if you had a chance to watch Eric play football.  Though Detwiler went down with a partially torn MCL in the Lowry game, when he returned he was hungrier than ever.  It took Eric a couple weeks to recover and start feeling better but he was all over the field in the State Championship game.  He was also very pivotal on offense and the team’s last drive of the season.  He was the leader of this team.

Evan Birchard

Birchard was a scoring machine for two seasons tallying 38 TD’s in 2000 and 2001.

One of the hardest workers in the program from 1998 through 2001 was Evan Birchard.  He put in some serious work in the offseason of 2001.  He was coming off a big season in 2000 and knew he would be carrying the load his senior year.  Evan was not only a team player, he was a program guy.  He was moved several times throughout his career at Truckee.  He played QB, 2-Back, 4-Back, 3 Back, Free-Safety, Cornerback, and Defensive End.  Basically where ever the team needed Evan to play he stepped up and got the job done.  Unfortunately Birchard had a pretty serious injury early in the 2001 season that would slow him down a little.  He worked through it but he was in serious pain with a bruised lung.  Birchard earned the respect of his peers and coaches as he was voted in as a captain in 2001.  Evan is 3rd all-time in Truckee history in Touchdowns with 38.  His last touchdown would be the most meaningful and memorable.  His 38th TD was the winning touchdown of the State Game.  Evan will always be one of my favorite players.  Maybe it’s because he put on the #19 and make it look so good!  Realistically it has more to do with how he carried himself on and off the field.  Evan was a competitor and one heck of a Wolverine.  Though I got to see him prove this for 4 years, it was more than evident in his last game as a Wolverine.

Jesse Helsdon

Helsdon might be one of the strongest kids to ever come through Truckee

Jesse Helsdon was also a captain for the 2001 Wolverines.  Most of the 2001 team was average size and typical size for Truckee.  Then there was Helsdon.  He tipped the scales for Truckee and balanced out their average weight upfront.  Jesse was an absolute beast in the weight room bench pressing near 400 pounds.  He was a State Champion wrestler and would be a vital defensive weapon for Truckee upfront.  He did a great job of covering up the linebackers and letting those guys run free to the football.  He also made his fair share of the tackles and plays.  Jesse was a quiet kid who was very coachable.  Jesse was a leader by example and he was the biggest and strongest dude on the team.  Helsdon, like many of his teammates, would play through injuries.  In the state game his dislocated shoulder was taped up and he played through it.  He had a huge game and proved why he was a leader of this team.

Other Notable Seniors

Larson fighting through a tackle in the 2001 State Game.

When you have a Championship team everyone is worth mentioning and I hope by the end of this write-up I have honored and represented this team well.  There are some guys that were not captains but certainly were leaders on this team.  The first player is David Larson.  Larson, along with Detwiler, was moved up to varsity as a sophomore.  He was 6’2 and one heck of an athlete.  He ran down hill at free-safety and was a 2-Back on offense.  If I can compare him to someone it would be David DeCoite.  Larson was a playmaker for the 2001 team and made an impact in every game he played in.  He was also one of the few guys on this team that stayed somewhat healthy.  Also on this list of seniors is TJ Dwyer.  Dwyer was a big strong kid who played tight-end and played our walk up outside linebacker (SS).  Dwyer was used in the pass game quite a bit but it was his ability to block on the buck sweep that made him so valuable.  He also did a great job on defense holding down the C-gap.  Looking back on the State Championship celebration I didn’t see anyone more visibly fired up than TJ Dwyer.  He was Truckee’s emotional leader.  Lastly, I’d like to give Kellen Babb a plug.  Kellen battled through injuries his whole football career.  His senior year was really no different as he played through pain.  Babb was moved from cornerback to our Razor position his senior year and that proved to be a Championship move for the Truckee defense.


Colfax Stadium where Truckee played a home game?

There are a couple variables in 2001 that outside of football had an impact on Truckee’s season.  One of those variables took place in the very first week of the season.  Forest fires had smoked out the Town of Truckee and air quality was so bad that our home game was moved to Colfax.  So, the first home game of the year wasn’t played at Surprise Stadium where Truckee has a clear home field advantage.  Colfax is at an elevation of 2,400 feet whereas Truckee is at 6,000.  The Thunderbirds of Las Plumas High School would get Truckee on a neutral field where they would give Truckee more than they could handle.  The injuries hit hard early in Truckee’s season as both starting guards were out with injuries.  So, the problems upfront started early.  Though Evan Birchard scored the game’s first TD on a 21 yard pass reception from Kevin Schlesinger, he would exit the game shortly after that.  Birchard was still working through a bruised lung from Truckee’s first scrimmage.  Detwiler scored on a 2-point conversion and Truckee led early 8-0.  However, Las Plumas would strike back quickly and make the game 8-6.  Las Plumas scored again on a run play in the second quarter and Truckee was down at halftime 12-8.  The game stayed that way until midway through the 3rd quarter when Ian Wrenn scooped up a fumble and ran it 85 yards for the the score.  Truckee’s 2-point conversion failed and they led 14-12 for most of the game.  Late in the 4th quarter Las Plumas scored and they were successful on a 2 point conversion making the score 20-14.  Truckee could not complete a comeback and lost game one.  This was not how Truckee wanted to start off their season.  Shaffer was quoted in the paper stating that, “We just aren’t a deep enough team to win when we have so many key players out.  The younger players need to get more playing time and have to get better quick to be able to challenge varsity level teams.”  Up next for Truckee is Manogue.


Babb and Bohart gang tackle a Minor in an early season league matchup.

The smoke has cleared and Truckee will host their first home game at Surprise Stadium.  Manogue travels to Truckee for the first time in the Joe Sellers era.  It’s no secret that Joe Sellers is a Nevada coaching legend.  Joe is Nevada’s all-time leading coach in wins with 250.  Joe owns two of the top 10 win streaks in Nevada history.  Sellers is most known for his 36 game win streak and 3 straight State Championships at Wooster from 1985 through 1987.  Wooster would win back to back Championships again in 94 and 95 but haven’t won State since then. Once Galena High School popped up in South Reno it dipped into Wooster’s numbers a little and the Colts would begin to lose some of their prowess.  I think it’s interesting and worth revisiting the coaching swaps around this time.  After the 1998 season Coach Sellers would step down at Wooster.  Manogue’s head coach, Tony Amantia, would then take over for Sellers at Wooster after taking the Miners to the State Championship in 98 (losing to Truckee).  Bill Branca, a teammate of Amantia at The University of Nevada, would then take the reigns at Manogue and he would win a State championship in 1999 beating Moapa Valley 7-6.  In 2000 Amantia would take Wooster back to the State Championship but lose to McQueen.  By 2001 Manogue had parted ways with Coach Branca making room to bring in the legend Joe Sellers.  Ironically Branca would land an administration job at Truckee and join the Wolverine’s coaching staff.  Branca was a big help to the Truckee coaching staff in 2001.  It also made for an awkward situation by the time we faced off with Manogue in week 2.

Schlesinger didn’t have his best game but Truckee still came away with a big win.

This game had the makings of an instant classic but it ended up being somewhat of an ugly game.  Neither offense could really get things going and the game would give way to one of the most bizzare ways that Truckee has come away victorious.  The first half was full of back and forth punts and the battle for field position.  Truckee would threaten to score early in the first quarter after a 67 yard punt return by Evan Birchard who had just come back to practice on Thursday from a bruised lung.  The great field position would go to waste after a holding penalty and an incomplete pass.  Then the best offensive drive of the day came just before halftime when Truckee drove down inside the Minors 20 yard line.  However, on a 4th down Schlesinger would throw an interception in the endzone and the two teams would head into halftime with Manogue leading 2-0.  The second half got worse for Truckee.  After trading punts Manogue finally got a break when their QB, Alex Bybee, hit a streaking Matt Lucero on a 30 yard touchdown pass.  The touchdown put the Minors up 9-0 midway through the 3rd quarter and things were not looking good for Truckee.  Then, Truckee somehow took control of the game but not on offense.  After another 3 and out by Truckee, Manogue was driving and was close to midfield.  Bybee then mishandled a draw play that somehow kicked outside taking a fortuitous hop to Jason Ames who scooped up the fumble and took it 51 yards for the score!  It changed the momentum of the game and the Surprise Stadium mystique was about to unload on the Minors.  After trading punts again Truckee had pinned Manogue down at their own 12 yard line.  Disaster struck for Manogue as an Alex Bybee pass was undercut by TJ Dwyer in the flats.  The pass was picked off and Dwyer took it 16 yards to the house to put Truckee up 14-9 with 9:48 in the ball game.  Just three plays later it was Kellen Babb’s turn when he picked off another Bybee pass and returned it for yet another Truckee defensive touchdown.  It was Manogue’s 5th turnover of the game and things collapsed for the Minors quickly.  With plenty of time on the clock Manogue could not get it going on offense and fell to the Wolverines 21-9.  Truckee has rarely been shutout but this, to my knowledge, was the first and only time Truckee was shutout on offense and still won the game.  It was a huge win for Truckee who dodged going 0-2 and improved to 1-1.  After the game Shaffer was asked if the game had more significance beating a “transcendent” figure like Sellers?  Shaffer responded, “No, Joe and I don’t go out and play; the kids do!  I look at this as a win for Truckee over Manogue…and an ugly one at that.”  It was an ugly win but a big win and it had to feel great for coach Branca!


Truckee JV team comes out of the locker room in honor of the USA just 3 days after terror struck on 9/11

The attacks on 9/11/01 changed everything rapidly. Airports have never been the same.

Another one of those variables outside of football took place just 3 days before Truckee traveled out to Spring Creek.  On Tuesday morning, September 11th, the world was shook up when terrorist attacks took place in the United States.  I will never forget waking up that morning and seeing the coverage of New York City on the news.  That day literally changed the way that we see the world.  I’m not going to get into great detail about 9/11 but I would be misrepresenting the 2001 season without mentioning it.  It’s hard to even express the mixed emotions that we all had during these times.  While it caused a lot of fear, it also caused us to rally and come together.  We, as US citizens, had a message of our own to send to those who want to harm our country, our people and our ideals.  America will continue to live our lives, we will not live in fear, and football season continued Friday in small town Nevada.

This game was a much anticipated game for the Wolverines.  Spring Creek beat Truckee twice in 2000 and that was a big motivating factor for Truckee in the offseason.  As motivated as Truckee was Spring Creek was a good team and they were not going to lay down on their home turf.  Truckee came into town riding momentum from a big win over Manogue.  The Reno Gazette Journal honored Jason Ames, Kellen Babb, and TJ Dwyer with player of the week for their defensive TD’s.  However, also on that list was Spring Creek’s Running Back Anthony Deherrera who rushed for 224 yards and two TD’s against the North Tahoe Lakers the week before.  Deherrera’s teammate, Travis Branzell, also topped the list at player of the week after catching the winning TD with just 7 seconds on the clock.  Spring Creek came away with the win 19-13 over the Lakers.  So, the stage was set for a huge League matchup.

Truckee would strike first on an Eric Detwiler 26 yard touchdown run early in the 1st quarter.  The Spartans would put a drive together of their own and kicked a 30 yard field goal to make the score 7-3.  The Wolverines would come right back on a Kevin Schlesinger 67 yard TD run and Truckee would go up 14-3.  The Spartans would not go away and they came right back and scored on a 5 yard pass from Brouse to Branzell.  The first quarter would end with Truckee leading 14-10.  The high paced game would slow down in the second quarter.  Truckee would get inside Spring Creek’s 20 yard line twice in the second quarter but come up empty.  One of those possessions was right before the half when a perfectly thrown pass went off the hands of Even Birchard in the end zone and the score at halftime was 14-10.  Truckee came out in the second half focussed and ready to put the game away and they did just that behind David Larson who scored on a 50 yard TD run and an 8 yard TD run.  Spring Creek had no answer for Truckee’s running game as the Wolverines rushed for 324 yards.  Schlesinger also put together a nice game passing 14 times completing 9 of those passes for 172 yards.  Truckee was a dual threat and though Spring Creek would score twice in the 4th quarter it was too little and too late.  Truckee came away with a 34-24 victory.  Things to note at this point.  The offensive line has been decimated by injuries.  Both guards were still out and Ryan Ochoa, Truckee’s center, got injured as well.  Shaffer called upon some unlikely sources to step in on the O-line.  Jason Ames, AKA Amo, was asked to play center.  Amo was a 2-Back and a dang good one.  Ames would step into the center position and after just 2 practices started vs Spring Creek.  He did a great job and ended up starting at center the rest of the season even after Ochoa came back.  To me it was this move that made this team so great.  The 2001 team was all about “WE” and not “ME”.  Without Amo stepping into this role, Truckee would not have won State.


Adam Lindroth had 6 carries for 40 yards and a TD on Homecoming day

Birchard’s 95 yard punt return vs Dayton is a school record.

Truckee comes into their Homecoming vs The Dayton Dust Devils with a 2-1 record.  Truckee was coming off a much needed bye week and had a chance to heel.  It also gave Shaffer time to iron out some of the issues on the offense line.  Dayton didn’t have a chance in this game.  Shaffer would use this game to get his offense on track and give valuable playing time to his backups.  Though Evan Birchard did not have a big day on offense, he would explode on special teams.  Birchard would open up the scoring with a 55 yard punt return for a touchdown.  After a David Larson TD run, Birchard would score again on a 95 yard punt return which is a school record to this day.  Larson would score again on a 10 yard pass from Schlesinger.  Then Schlesinger would take it himself and score on a 53 yard TD run.  Lindroth would finish off the scoring with a 5 yard TD run.  Truckee would roll up 330 yards on the ground.  Schlesinger put together another solid passing game going 10 of 15 for 94 yards and a TD.  Truckee is starting to click and will face Fernley next who proposes a threat in every area of the game.


The game vs Fernley in 2001 is what we call a “trap game.”`  Fernley had never beat Truckee and there was no reason to think they would beat us in 01.  Fernley had been putting up big scores on everyone they played and they were a decent team.  They came into the game with Truckee with a 3-1 league record proving they were capable.  Truckee was 3-0 in league and to this point had beat two of the top teams in Manogue and Spring Creek.  Fernley had home field advantage in this game but that’s never been an issue in the past.  Truckee was favored but they could have been overlooking the Vaqueros.  Put all of this together and the trap was set in place. When you look at the score you think…this must have been one heck of a game, and it was, for Fernley.  For Truckee it was a game that got away.  Truckee came out in Wolverine fashion putting up the game’s first 3 TD’s: Detwiler 8 yard rushing TD, Birchard 3 yard rushing TD, and Larson scored on a 49 yard TD pass from Schlesinger.  It looked like Truckee would roll up the Vaqueros.  In fact, Shaffer is quoted in the paper saying, “Fernley fans were already getting up and leaving.”  The Fernley faithful that stayed got to see their team make a comeback, and with the help of some favorable officiating, they got to see their team take down Truckee for the first time ever.  It all started on a long run by Maguin who would take a handoff, with time running out in the first half, and go 80 yards for the score.  Though Truckee had dominated the first half of play, this long run ignited the Vaqueros and they came out in the second half a different team.  Fernley would score first in the second half to make the score 21-14 and it suddenly was a ball game.  The Wolverines would answer with a Birchard 15 yard run for a TD and Evan would also tack on a 2pt conversion making the score 29-14.  The Vaqueros wouldn’t go away and they played with extreme confidence as Truckee fought to maintain momentum.  Fernley would score again on another Maguin run but they would miss the 2pt conversion attempt and the score was 29-20.  Truckee would again answer on a 36 yard TD run by Birchard.  JR Murphy would kick the extra point to make the game 36-20 and that would be the last of the scoring for Truckee.  The Vaqueros were not finished and they scored another TD just before the 3rd quarter ended.  This TD was set up by a Truckee fumble deep inside their own territory.  The score was 36-26 at the end of three quarters.  Truckee would need to hold off the Vaquero’s surge in the 4th quarter but they couldn’t do so.  Fernley would benefit from 3 Truckee fumbles and over 200 yards in penalties in the second half alone.  The 4th quarter was all Fernley and the officiating crew.  A couple of Truckee TD’s were called back and Fernley scored twice.  The last TD of the game was a 49 yard punt return by Fernley and several blocks in the back went unnoticed and not called?  Truckee struggled to get a first down as every time we made a gain it was brought back on a penalty.  The Vaqueros would take down Truckee 38-36.

I don’t want to take anything away from the Fernley kids but over 200 yards in penalties in the second half?  The 200 plus yards in penalties is documented but you also have to factor in the no calls that went Fernley’s way as well.  When it is all said and done Truckee lost.  As hard as it is, Shaffer always made it a point to never blame officiating.  But let me put this loss into perspective.  Three turnovers, over 200 yards in penalties, and the no calls specifically on Fernley’s winning touchdown.  It’s actually amazing that Fernley only beat us by 2 points.  If you give Truckee all those calls we roll the Vaqueros up even with our 3 turnovers.  You have Fernley who is the driving force behind every movement to remove Truckee from the NIAA. The last movement going all the way to the Nevada State Legislature. Then you have the history of the 98 game at Fernley which was some of the most horrendous officiating that Truckee has ever suffered.  If you put all of this in perspective then you’d understand how frustrated coach Shaffer was after this game.  In the end zone at the end of the game Shaffer was speechless and didn’t say a word to his players.  The assistant coaches would speak and go through the shoulda, coulda, and woulda’s.  The team was devastated.  After each coach spoke the team brought it in but, before the team could get their break, Shaffer Jr. forced his way into the middle of the players.  Shaffer Jr. would give a very heartfelt speech.  Nothing could make the guys feel better after a tough loss like that but the speech was heard by the players loud and clear!  Sometimes a loss is just what the doctor ordered and in this case it was exactly what this team needed.  I believe this was the turning point for this team.  The Wolverines would rally after this loss, come together, and win out!


Traditionally anytime Truckee loses a game the next team pays the price.  In this case it was the Yerington Lions.  Truckee traveled to Yerington and took care of business.  It was a good game to get Truckee back on track.  Though the first quarter was scoreless, it was only a matter of time before the Wolverines would devour the Lions.  Eric Detwiler started off the scoring with 47 yard reception from Schlesinger.  The next drive would be Detwiler again but this time he scored on the ground.  The last score of the half went to David Larson who caught an 81 yard reception from Schlesinger.  Then Larson would open up the second half scoring on a 16 yard reception from Schlesinger.  To close out the scoring Schlesinger would score on the ground from 28 yards out and Evan Birchard scored the game’s final points on a 6 yard run.  Big night for Kevin Schlesinger who helped Truckee to a 4-1 league record.  Truckee is now tied for first place with Lowry and Spring Creek.


Dwyer catches TD pass at home.

This is the only game in 2001 that I don’t have information on.  I know the Rams came into the game with a 2-4 record and they always have good athletes.  I know Truckee won the game and took their 5-1 record on the road to Lowry who was also 5-1.  With just 2 games remaining in the season Truckee would need to win both to clinch the #1 seed in the North.


This is not a great photo but it’s the only one I have from the Lowry game. This is Babb’s TD catch to put the Wolverines up 7-0

This matchup had playoff implications and seedings on the line.  Truckee, Lowry, and Spring Creek all had a 5-1 record and were tied for first place.  The winner would likely be the #1 seed and the loser could miss the playoffs all together.  Truckee’s defense would have their work cut out for them as the Buckaroos rushed for 605 yards the previous week against North Tahoe.  So, this was a big game for the Wolverines.  The common theme of the 2001 Wolverines is critical injuries.  Truckee started the season with a 33 man roster.  They would limp into the Lowry game with just 24 players suited up.  Most programs would collapse under these conditions, but Truckee is on a win streak and appears to be gaining momentum.  A constant for the Wolverines has been Kevin Schlesinger.  After starting out the season a little rough, Schlesinger has found a groove and has put together several strong performances.  Against Lowry he was 8 of 12 for 123 yards and 2 TD’s.  Kevin also had a rushing TD. When Truckee needed Schlesinger the most he stepped up.

Truckee would start off the scoring in Lowry with a 24 yard TD pass to Kellen Babb from Schlesinger.  Detwiler would score a 2 pt. conversion on Shaffer’s Mud-Huddle play and Truckee was up 8-0.  The Truckee defense would make a statement early and hold Lowry to negative yardage in the first quarter.  After Birchard scored on a 28 yard TD pass, Lowry would answer and the score was 14-6 at halftime.  Unfortunately for Truckee they would lose Eric Detwiler in the 2nd quarter to a partially torn MCL.  Though the injury was originally thought to be much worse, it was a huge loss for Truckee.  However, Aldo Serna, would step up and play a great game for the Wolverines.  Serna was praised by coach Shaffer after the game, “my hats off to Aldo who stepped up tonight as well as the rest of our defense…We played the option tonight like we always do.”  Truckee would score twice in the 3rd quarter to put the game away.  Schlesinger scored on a 3 yard run and Birchard on a 46 yard TD run to ice the game.  What really iced the game was Truckee’s defense holding the Buckaroos to just 105 rushing yards on 32 attempts.  Limiting Lowry’s offense was the key and Truckee would win 26-6.  Lowry would drop to 5-2 and would now be on the outside looking in for the playoff picture.  I believe they lost to Spring Creek the following week and missed the playoffs and Manogue became the 3rd seed. Truckee, now 6-1, would host the Lakers in hopes of securing the #1 seed.


Colin Flauta had to step into help fill the void for Eric Detwiler.

North Tahoe made it close but ultimately would fall to Truckee for the 15th straight time.

The matchup with North Tahoe in 2001 did not match the hype it did 2000.  Even with a Truckee roster that was decimated by injuries, North Tahoe was still outmatched.  Truckee dressed just 21 players for this game.  However, it is a rivalry game and anything can happen.  Truckee came out fast in the first quarter and it looked like the Lakers didn’t have a chance.  Schlesinger hit TJ Dwyer on a 12 yard pass to take the early lead.  Shortly after the pass to Dwyer, David Larson ran for a 19 yard TD.  It looked like the route was on but, North Tahoe had some fight left in them.  North Tahoe put together a drive and Matt Miller scored from a yard out.  The score at halftime was 14-6.  Truckee would get sloppy and turn the ball over giving North Tahoe great field position several times.  Luckily the Truckee defense was up for the challenge and Jacob Bohart came up with a big interception in the end zone to end North Tahoe’s last attempt at scoring in the first half.  The second half consisted of great defense for both teams keeping the game close deep into the 4th quarter.  Finally Birchard would put the game away with a 12 yard TD run and Truckee would win 21-6.  Schlesinger put together another nice game going 12 of 24 for 196 yards and a TD.  Larson had a big day as well catching 4 passes for 96 yards.  Larson also ran the ball 4 times for 50 yards and TD.  The defense for Truckee did another great job holding NT out the end zone when they had chances to score.  Truckee would take care of business and win there 15th straight game over North Tahoe.  With the win the Wolverines would also win another League title and secure the #1 seed in the North.  Spring Creek would win the second seed and travel to Truckee for the second year in a row at Surprise Stadium.


David Larson put together a great game to help Truckee return to the State Championship

A Truckee defender fights to bring down a Spring Creek receiver.

Though Truckee won the League Championship and earned themselves home field advantage, The Reno Gazette Journal had Spring Creek as their top ranked team heading into the 3A playoffs.  Spring Creek was healthy heading into the playoffs and Truckee was still down some key players.  So, I can see why some might think the Spartans would have the advantage. The Spartans also had the leading rusher in the State.  Anthony DeHerrera had over 1,800 yards rushing coming into the game vs Truckee.  The goal for Truckee was to “contain” DeHerrera and not give up the big one.  Anytime the Wolverines are underdogs in Surprise Stadium, I feel pretty good.  With Eric Detwiler coming back from his injury and a team that has stepped up all year, the Wolverines were ready to prove everyone wrong and get Truckee back in the State game.

Birchard takes the punt and returns its past midfield.

The game lived up to the hype.  The Spartans would score first with a pass from QB Mike Brouse to Brad Dillenburg on a 7 yard touchdown.  Spring Creek would lead after the first quarter 7-0.  Then it was all Truckee in the second quarter.  First it was Evan Birchard who scored on 4 yard TD run to tie the game at 7-7.  Then Truckee would force a three and out the very next possession.  Birchard would return the punt across midfield and the Wolverines were in business.  Schlesinger went to work and eventually connected with Larson on a fade route to the corner of end zone.  The P.A.T was no good and Truckee was up 13-7.  Truckee would take their 13-7 lead to halftime after shutting down Spring Creek.  Coming out in the 3rd quarter Truckee kicked off to Spring Creek.  With predictable play calling, the Spartans were able to grind out a long drive almost exclusively dominated by DeHerrera.  After a 38-yard gain by DeHerrera the Spartan drive seemed to stall out.  But on 4th and 12 from Truckee’s 17-yardline Brouse dropped back to pass and found Dillenburg again for the go ahead Touchdown.  The Spartans would take their 14-13 lead in in the 4th quarter and they were looking confident.

David Larson catching a big TD vs the Spartans to take the 4th quarter lead.

On the first play of the 4th quarter Eric Detwiler was stopped at the 4 yard-line on a 3rd down run.  After some words were exchanged, Truckee was hit with a 15-yard penalty.  Facing a 4th down and goal from the 19 yard-line, Schlesinger would drop back and connect with Larson again for a huge touchdown!  According to coach Shaffer the play was suppose to go to 6’4 sophomore, JR Murphy, who was being covered by 5’7″ DeHerrera.  Schlesinger said after the game, “…I just had more confidence in the senior.  He’s been doing that for us all year long.”  Larson was a big time playmaker for Truckee and he made a huge play to put Truckee on top 21-14.  The TD to Larson topped off Schlesinger’s big game.  Kevin was 11 for 15, 211 yards and 2 TD’s both to Larson. The Spartans would struggle the rest of the game on offense as the Wolverine defense stepped up their efforts.  Spring Creek failed to move the ball across midfield again and Truckee’s run game grinded out the clock.  With just under 5 minutes to play Adam Lindroth broke free on Power that sprung him 41 yards for the touchdown.  The Lindroth run iced the game and put Truckee back in the State Championship.  Shaffer said after the 28-14 victory that, “We had to overcome a lot this year.  We had to depend on the kids to rise to the occasion and they did!”


Truckee poses for a picture after winning their 6th State Championship (7th really)

Before we get into the breakdown of the 2001 State Championship I’d like to take the time to introduce and honor Truckee’s offensive line (The Red Wall) going into the State Game.  Truckee headed into the North Tahoe game having just 21 players suited up.  Going into the State game Truckee had 35 suited up.  Many players dressed for State but realistically would not be used.  Shaffer was clear in the paper that, though players were coming back from injury, he was going with the same lineup.  Shaffer was going to ride the horse that got him to State.  Those horses up front were:

Quick Tackle: Brad Sausser 5’11 170 moved to O-Line from 3rd String Wide Receiver- Wrestler, scrapper, and very smart

Quick Guard: Nate Enblom 5’11 165 moved to O-line from 3rd string TE- Scrappy, smart kid who was athletic

Center: Jason Ames 6’1 180 moved to O-line from 2nd string Wing back- strong, smart, and athletic.  Pure football player

Strong Guard: Franky Calderon 5’11 200 moved to O-line from 3rd string Full Back- big strong and played with a chip in his shoulder

Strong Tackle: Henry Gonzales 5’11 215 (only player that started on the line) moved from both guards to tackle

All of these guys deserve credit for being team guys.  Shaffer expressed this in the papers before the game and in his post game speech after the win.  It meant a lot to coach Shaffer that these players not only moved positions when needed but they improved weekly, gained trust, and Shaffer was proud of them.  Shaffer also thrived on beating teams with less.  Before the matchup with Moapa Shaffer explained, “When you look at us you’re not impressed with our size and skill.  It’s not the most talented team we’ve ever had here.  But this team has done a great job of working hard and overachieving.  They play real well together.  They’ve really pulled together.”  Shaffer would also mention that Truckee would need to play a perfect game if they were going to beat the defending State Champions.

Travis Cramer applied pressure all game.

Truckee would not play a perfect game but, thankfully, neither would Moapa Valley.  The two teams would clash in a tough defensive battle.  Both teams would trade field position and punts for most of the first half.  Then just before halftime Truckee put a drive together.  On a key 4th down play coach Shaffer called a timeout.  Out of the timeout Truckee ran their Criss-cross Counter but then handed off to Kellen Babb on an end around.  Babb getting some key blocks from Detwiler and Birchard took the handoff down inside the 10 yard line setting up first and goal from the 8.  Truckee had been working on this play all year and finally Shaffer called it at the perfect time.  It almost would spring for a touchdown.  Regardless it was a great call and with just under a minute left Truckee was in great scoring position.  On first down Shaffer called a 44 Dive to Birchard that was stuffed at the line of scrimmage.  After another timeout by Shaffer, Truckee sent Larson in motion and ran a 33 Belly with Birchard and he ran down to 3 yard line.  Truckee quickly got to the line and ran a waggle but it was incomplete.  After Moapa declined a penalty for illegal motion, Truckee appeared to be going for it on 4th down.  Moapa would then call timeout.  Out of the timeout Truckee decided to attempt a field goal.  The kick went wide left and the game was tied 0-0 at halftime.  The first half was full of great defense by both sides.

Schlesinger didn’t have his best game connecting on just 13 of 30 passes with 146 yards and a TD. But he also had 3 INT’s.

The second half was full of great defense as well but both teams would score off turnovers.  The first team to take advantage of offensive miscues were the Wolverines.  On Moapa’s first play of the second half they fumbled the ball and David Larson jumped on it.  Truckee would take over on the Pirate’s 18 yard line.  Truckee would then go backwards eventually setting up a 4th down and 22 from the Pirate’s 30 yard line.  Only one play for this scenario, a Shaffer classic, as he calls Ace Flex 1047 waggle pass.  Schlesinger would waggle to his right and find a wide open TJ Dwyer for the first touchdown of the game!  The kick was good and Truckee would lead 7-0 early in the 3rd quarter.  Truckee’s defense would force another punt shortly after their first touchdown and take over on their own 30 yard line.  On second down Schlesinger would throw his 2nd interception of day.  Moapa ran it down to the 28 yard line of Truckee and would threaten to score for the first time in the game.  After getting a big sack from Travis Kramer and a holding call on 3rd down, Moapa would eventually have to convert a 4th down and 12.  Moapa’s QB, Kyle Waite, connected with Mike Gorkisch who took the ball down to the Truckee 12 yard line.  It appeared that Moapa would even the score but the Truckee defense would step up once again and Moapa turned it over on downs.  On 4th down Brad Sausser checked in at Middle Backer for, Aldo Serna, and nearly intercepted the pass.  It was a great defensive play and Truckee would take over at their own 14 yard line.  The offense would now need to grind out some field position.  But Shaffer had other ideas and called his famous Belly Waggle.  Truckee was struggling to run the ball and I’m sure he was looking for a “sudden change” big play.  However, Schlesinger was hit as he was throwing and the pass fluttered through the air and into the hands of a Pirate.  Moapa would again takeover at Truckee’s 28 yard line.  This time the Pirates were not going to be denied and they started handing off the ball to their big man Greg Hinton.  Hinton, a 6’2 210 pound TE, took 3 straight carries in a row.  Breaking several tackles he would take the ball down to the one yard line.  The next play Moapa’s QB would score and tie the game 7-7 with a minute left in the 3rd quarter.

The Truckee defense came up big all game helping

Larson takes a 23 counter for a big gain on the last drive of the game to secure the win.

Birchard took the ensuing kickoff up to the 40 yard line setting up good field position for Truckee.  After a couple run plays the 3rd quarter came to an end.  On the first play of the 4th quarter Truckee faced a 3rd and 5.  Out of the timeout Schlesinger went to the air and connected on a 40 yard pass play to David Larson.  Another great call by Shaffer out of a timeout calling another Wing-T classic “Belly Pass & Go.”  On first down Truckee was called for a hold and it forced the Wolverines backwards.  Truckee would eventually be faced with a 3rd and 12.  Shaffer would go back to the waggle and Schlesinger hit TJ Dwyer.  This time Dwyer was hit immediately after making the catch setting up first and goal at the one yard line for Truckee.  It was looking like Truckee would retake the lead but instead disaster struck and Schlesinger fumbled on a 33 Belly keep.  Truckee turned the ball over to Moapa.  It was tough miscue.  After trading punts Moapa would eventually make it out to midfield and they would be forced to punt again.  This time their punter would send it into the end zone for the touchback.  Based on the way things were going, the game looked to be heading to overtime.  Instead, the Wolverines were now setup for one of the best drives in Truckee history.  With the score tied at 7-7 and 4:26 left on the clock, Truckee would have to go 80 yards to win State.


This game and the last drive kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Here’s the Play sequence for Truckee’s winning drive: 1st and 10 Truckee motions their halfback out to the strong side and runs Schlesinger on a 34 Belly Keep and it goes for 8 yards.  On 2nd down and 2 the call is 33 Belly to Detwiler who runs hard and with purpose for 12 yards.  On 1st and 10 the call is 32 Quick Trap to Detwiler who is hit at the line of scrimmage but he runs through several tackles for a gain of 10 yards.  This set up 1 and 10 at midfield.  On first down the call is 46 Power (Left) to Birchard for 2 yards.  Detwiler exits the game and Flauta comes in at 3B.  Now on 2nd and 8 (2:58 left in the game)33 Belly Combo to Flauta for 3 yards.  Flauta loses the ball but he was called down.  On 3rd and 5 the call goes to David Larson on a 23 Counter and he runs it for 9 yards.  It’s now 1st and 10 at Moapa’s 36 yard line and there is 1:48 to go in the game. Truckee calls their first Buck Sweep (right) and Brichard takes it 12 yards for another Truckee first down.  The play went out of bounds and stopped the clock with 1:34 left to play.  Moapa Valley takes a timeout to stop the bleeding.  The ball is now at the 24 yard line, 1st and 10, and Truckee calls 33 Belly to Detwiler and he’s stuffed for a 1 yard gain.  On 2nd and 9 Truckee calls their next Sweep (Left) to Birchard and it goes for 11 yards down to the 12 yard line.  With one minute left on 1st and 10 Truckee calls Sweep (right) again to Birchard and he runs hard down to the 5 yard line. Truckee calls a timeout with 41 seconds left.  The ball is now on the 5 yard line right hash.  It’s 2nd down and 3, Truckee comes out in an unbalanced set.  Moapa was misaligned and Truckee took advantage.  The Wolverines handoff to Birchard on a sweep (left), he bounces out a little setting up blocks and then cuts up almost immediately.  Birchard sprints untouched to the back of the endzone for the winning Touchdown!  What a drive.  Not one pass play.  It was a classic Wing-T drive that you could have seen Truckee execute in the 80′, 90’s, or in this case 2001!  The defense would hold up but it would not be without a little last second drama.  Truckee attempted a squib kick that did not bounce favorably for the Wolverines.  It was picked up by Moapa and up near midfield with 30 seconds left.  After a completion of 8 yards, Moapa was Sacked on 2nd down for a 8 yard loss.  On 3rd down Moapa would try a double pass which was setup the drive before.  When Moapa ran the double pass the first time there was a miscue by the receiver otherwise it might have scored.  This time the Wolverines were ready for it, Moapa threw into triple coverage, and the pass would fall incomplete.  On the last play of the game Waite would drop back to pass one last time and he was sacked by Jason Ames and the game ended 14-7 Truckee.

Truckee Celebrates after taking down a tough Moapa Team


Eric Detwiler- Defensive MVP

Jesse Helsdon- DT

Eric Detwiler- LB

David Larson- DB

Kevin Schlesinger- QB

Evan Birchard- RB

TJ Dwyer- TE

Kicker- JR Murphy

2001 RECAP

When I think about the 2001 team I think about how much they had to overcome.  First and foremost they were plagued by injuries throughout the whole season.  However, guys continued to step up and move positions as needed.  The 2001 team is by far the most unselfish team Truckee’s ever had.  They very well could be the team that overachieved the most as well.  They missed a home game due to heavy smoke in Truckee and had to play their first home game in Colfax.  When I think of 2001 in general I think about 9/11 as I’m sure others do as well.  It was a crazy time in our history and I think it’s fitting that Truckee won State in 01.  We’re never the biggest.  We’re never the fastest.  We never pass the “eye test but you can bet we will play as hard, prepare as hard, and compete as hard as anyone we’re going to face.”  We’ll also be the most physical and well disciplined team most years.  Nothing was going to take away this team’s focus and determination.  You can say what you will about the 2001 Wolverines.  Just make sure that you include the following: They put the win streak over North Tahoe at 15 games.  They won a league Championship in a tough league and captured the #1 seed.  They beat a Manogue team led by Nevada’s All-Time winningest coach.  Most importantly make sure you mention that this team put their hopes on a 3rd string Wide Receiver, a 3rd String TE, a 2nd string Wing-Back, a 3rd string Full-back, and Henry Gonzales to dominate the trenches.  The O-line averaged 5’11 and 185 pounds (maybe).  The only ones who believed they could get the job done were their teammates, parents, and coaching staff.  When it is all said and done, this group, who struggled most of the State game to establish the run, was then asked to lead Truckee 80 yards down field to take the 2001 State Championship.  That is precisely what this group did.  In a 10 play drive that consisted of only running plays, Truckee’s offensive line drove the ball down Moapa’s throat to capture the Nevada State Championship!  That last drive was a microcosm of the Wolverine’s season and it put a stamp on their legacy.  WOLVERINES!!!

FRONT ROW: Jimmy Williams, Nick Smith, Chris Anderson, Justin Vivian, Kevin Finn, Matt Scholz, Scott Moore ROW 2: Aldo Serna, James Ward, Chris Tennant, Benji Islas, Tom Hill, Robby Beno, Juan Aguilar, RJ Ballou, Salvadore Reza ROW 3: Coach Branca, Coach Smith, Trainer Bob Orth, Coach Collins, Coach Shaffer, Coach Dow, Coach DeCoite, Coach Garrow ROW 4: Cory Arth, Mike Acuff, Jason Ames, Marcus Waters, Kyle VanArsdale, Nate Engblom, James DeCoite, Shane Wright, Mike Hackley BACK ROW: Johnathan Patton, Jacob Bohart, Kevin Schlesinger, JR Murphy, Jamie Maehler, Travis Kramer, Bruce Knez, Greg Gadsby

2002: 9-3 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Runner-Up

The Big question heading into 2002…Could Sellers take the crown from the Wolverine’s who had dominated Northern Nevada for the better part of 13 seasons?

Truckee’s 6th opportunity to pursuit Back to Back State Championships came in the fall of 2002.  With a group of unselfish and scrappy overachievers, Shaffer won his 3rd title in 2001.  The 2001 State team had a very strong senior class and there were many holes to be filled heading into 2002.  Coach Shaffer knew that heading into the offseason and would dip down to grab some youth from the JV team.  Sophomores that were asked to play Varsity were LB Jimmy Williams, Defensive Tackle Benji Islas, LB/FB Tom Hill, and Slot Receiver Jaime Maehler who had just made the jump to football from the soccer team.  With the addition of these 4 youngsters and the return of several key seniors, the 2002 team was a very capable team.  The most valuable returners being Jason Ames and Kevin Schlesinger who had both been varsity starters since their sophomore season.  Another key senior would be Travis Kramer who was a defensive force his junior season.  This team also had a solid junior class.  The most prominent junior being JR Murphy who was a 6’4 target for Schlesinger and did all the kicking duties as a sophomore.  Coach Shaffer, as usual, would recruit kids from his classes and from the halls to produce yet again another strong team.  As mentioned above, Coach Shaffer at this point in his career captured three State Titles and a State Runner Up in his first seven seasons as Truckee’s head coach.  One of those seasons being the strongest campaign in Truckee history producing the first undefeated team in 1998.  However, Shaffer had yet to produce Back to Back Champions.  The 2002 season would be his 3rd attempt at doing so and he had the team to do it.  The only question would be, could he overcome the surgance of Joe Sellers and the Manogue Miners?  Sellers had a very strong group returning as well.  Manogue was very close in 2001 and it took 3 defensive touchdowns for the Wolverines to beat them in 2001.  This left Sellers and the Miners more determined than ever to take over the Nevada 3A.  This is the story of the 2002 Truckee Wolverines.

2002 was not a big team but they had several key players coming back from the 2001 team. Unfortunately 3 of the key players were injured early in the 2002 season and it took time to get rolling. 


Before I start the journey of the 2002 Wolverines, I’d like to share my perspective or a little of my story at this point in my coaching career.  After all, I just finished my 28th season coaching at Truckee (2023).  While I try my very best to represent each team with historical accuracy, it is still me, Josh Ivens, writing these stories and I can’t help but put some things from my lens into each season.  I graduated from Nevada in the spring of 2002 with a degree in Physical Education.  I might have been the last student to ever graduate with that degree from Nevada as they changed the major a few years prior to my graduation.  I started my student teaching at Truckee High school in the fall of 2002.  So, this was my first year as an”on campus” coach.  I got to know the players in a different way then years past, as I saw them daily in the halls and in their natural element.  Also, 2002 would be my last year as a JV coach.  I will talk further about this in the 2003 writeup.  The JV coaching staff was awesome in 2002 and I will never forget our experience.  The head coach was Jason Estabrook, I was the defensive coordinator, Nik Fertitta, Bob Shaffer Jr., and Avon York were the assistants.  The chemistry with this coaching staff made for some great times in and out of practice.  Kevin York, a high school teammate, would also come up on weekends and be our eyes in the sky.  York was a great booth guy and he continued to excel at it for other programs over the years.  From a personal standpoint I made a ton of coaching errors in my first season as a defensive coordinator.  Coach Estabrook was very patient with me and talked through my errors with me…a kinda under his breath chat.  I could tell he was frustrated but also knew I was learning.  I learned a lot from Jason Estabrook in 2002 and I still hold onto things I learned that season.  He was stern, all about the small details, but also showed expreme compassion for his players.  While he comes off stern and stoic, he had the best dry sense of humor in the program.  I’ll never forget my time as a JV coach and the 2002 season was the best of the 6 seasons I was a on the JV staff.  Mainly because of the guys I was coaching with but also the group of players we got to coach that season.  Two seasons later we would win a State Championship with this group.


James Ward

Ward was voted athlete of the week by the Sierra Sun after the big win at Virgin Valley. 

I coached James on the JV team and he was one of the smallest players we had on the team for a couple seasons.  However, that all changed in his varsity years.  Ward is a great example of hard work in the weight room and being around Championship level players and coaches.  James developed into the starting Free Safety his senior year and was one of the most physical players in the Northern 3A.  He was a 1st team All-League DB his senior year.  His work ethics and grind mentality earned his peers respect and Ward was voted in as a team captain in 2002.  Though James had decent offensive stats, it was his defensive presence that made the biggest impacts during the 2002 season.  In his senior campaign Ward had an outstanding 118 tackles from the Free Safety position.  In the biggest win of the season, at Virgin Valley, he recorded 15 tackles.  Ward brought the physical nature to the 2002 team along with key teammates like Aldo Serna, Juan Aguilar, Jason Ames, and Travis Kramer.  On paper, Truckee’s defense was their strength heading into the 2002 season along with Kevin Schlesinger’s experience at QB.  This defense had some dudes, had coach Collins, and had James Ward as a team leader.

Kevin Schlesinger

JR Murphy getting plenty of reps in August due to a Schlesinger injury

Schlesinger, who is Truckee’s All-Time leading passer was coming off a huge season as a junior and he would be voted in as captain in 2002.  Kevin is one of few QB’s to ever start for Truckee as a Sophomore.  He had the experience, he had the arm, and he had the ability to run.  The biggest question heading into 2002 would be, did Kevin have the weapons?  With many weapons graduating Schlesinger, and the Shaffer offense, would have to lean on the young talent of the 2002 team.  With Schlesinger’s favorite target in JR Ballou and the height of both JR Murphy and Jamie Maehler, Kevin would have his best season yet throwing for 2,335 yards in 02.  During the North Tahoe game Schlesinger actually broke the Nevada State record in career passing yards.  A big deal at the time, but that has since been eclipsed.  Shaffer would not only lean on Schlesinger’s arm but also his legs as Kevin became the focal point of Truckee’s offense.  This would lead Truckee to many victories.  Schlesinger did start the 2002 with an injury but was able to work through it and play in the season opener vs Fernley.  Kevin currently resides in Reno with his family.  We were lucky enough to have him as a coach for three seasons…one of those in the toughest of times, 2020, the year of Covid.  He is still as competitive as ever and we appreciated what he brought to the program as a player and as a coach.

Jason Ames

Ames running hard in the State game despite the outcome.

Jason Ames started for the Wolverines for 3 seasons.  He is currently the career sack leader for Truckee with 29.  The coaching staff did not keep track of TFL’s back then but I bet Ames would be at the top of that list as well.  Ames had great positive energy, he was tenacious and a team leader which is why he was voted in as a captain for the 2002 season.  When I think about Ames two things pop into my head.  The first is the long defensive touchdowns that he had.  Specifically the one his junior season vs Manogue. The only Truckee touchdowns that day came on defense and it was Ames who ran in the first one.  The ball rolled outside a little and he scooped it up and ran it in for 51 yard score.  It changed the game and momentum.  The Wolverines would score two more defensive TD’s in that game and upset Sellers and the Miners.  The second thing I remember, and the most important, was Jason’s unselfish move from the 2B spot to play center in 2001.  Truckee’s offensive line struggled early in the 2001 season and they were also injury prone.  Shaffer dipped into his skill players to patch up the offensive line.  They did more than patch things up, they became starters and helped Truckee win the State Championship that season.  Jason was a big part of that.  However, in 2002, he made the move back to the backfield and gave Truckee another well needed weapon as Truckee lost many of their playmakers to graduation.


Nothing like starting off the season with a tough game right out of the gate!  With the Wolverines losing 38-36 to the Vaqueros a year prior, this game had all the pregame hype one could handle.  Truckee would be looking for revenge…the understatement of the century.  The 2001 loss to Fernley was Truckee’s first loss to the Vaqueros ever.  So, it came with some bitterness and willing to prove it was a fluke.  The Wolverines came out with great energy and took the early lead.   With Fernley driving early in the game they would make a key mistake coughing up the ball to Truckee.  One of four fumbles they would have on the night.  Truckee took advantage of the turnover when Schlesinger rolled out and hit Mike Acuff on a 50 yard reception.  A couple plays later it was Nick Smith who would hit paydirt and Truckee took the early lead.  Early in the second quarter Truckee converted on a fake punt when Schlesinger converted a pass on 4th and 12.  Schlesinger was Truckee’s punter and Shaffer quite often took his shots on fake punts.  In this case it was a success and shortly after Schlesinger would hit his 6’3″ receiver JR Murphy for a 15 yard TD pass.  Towards the end of the first half Truckee was driving when Nick Smith scored his second TD of the night.  Smith was Truckee’s primary ball handler early in the 2002 season.  He was a very intelligent football player who did a great job setting up blocks.  He also had great quickness and great ability to make tacklers miss.  Smith Opened up the 2002 season with a huge night running the ball 16 times for 115 yards and 2 TD’s.  His second TD put Truckee up 25-0 at half time and the route looked to be on!  However, the Vaqueros were not to be counted out and just like the year prior, Truckee came out flat in the second half and played uninspired football.  While Truckee’s offense was rolling in the first half, they were only able to muster 41 yards in the second half.  The defense, after shutting out Fernley in the first half, also struggled and on the second play of the second half Fernley’s big back, Lonnie Hatcher, took a handoff 80 yards for a TD.  Most of the third quarter was all about both defenses and Truckee went into the 4th quarter leading the Vaqueros 25-6.  The 4th quarter was all Fernley as they blocked 2 punts, one for a TD late in the game.  Fernley turned the ball over two more times in the second half.  Otherwise the outcome could have been different, but in the end it was the Wolverines who came away with the win 25-20.  This early matchup proved to be good for Truckee.  They won but also had good film to show the team to get better heading into week 2.  Shaffer said several times to this point in the press that this group has some rough edges to iron out.  They did some great things in game one, but captain, Kevin Schlesinger, said after the game that he and his teammates need to “play 4 quarters, we only played two tonight.”


#31 Nick Smith breaks away vs the Dayton Dust Devils.

After a scare in week one vs Fernley, the Wolverines had the Dayton Dust Devils at home.  A great game to get back on track.  However, the Dust Devils were, somewhat, new and improved.  The game started out in a bit of a surprise at Surprise Stadium as the Dayton Dust Devils picked off a Schlesinger pass on the opening drive of the game and took all the way in for the score.  The Dust Devils would lead 7-0, but that would not last long.  On the ensuing drive Schlesinger would lead the Wolverines on a 90 yard drive capped off by a James Ward touchdown run and the score would be tied 7-7 early in the 1st quarter.  Dayton’s next offensive drive would end up as a safety and Truckee went up 9-7.  Truckee would get the ball back but then quickly be faced with a 4th down and 10 yards to go.  Like week one, Shaffer would call for a fake punt and Schlesinger connected with Acuff on a 25 yard completion keeping the Truckee drive alive.  The drive would eventually be capped off by a Schlesinger pass to running back Tom Hill for a TD and Truckee would lead 16-7 with just 6 minutes off the clock.  Dayton would come right back and score on a field Goal after a big 75 yard run and the score was 16-10.  On the very next drive Truckee would convert again on a fake punt, this time it was 4th and 12.  The fake punt would lead to a Nick Smith 68 yard TD run and now Truckee was up 23-10.  On the kickoff Dayton fumbled at the Truckee 23 yard line setting up a Schlesiger pass to RJ Ballou for the touchdown and Truckee would lead 30-10.  Forty points were scored in the first quarter.  Dayton would be the only team to score in the second quarter and the halftime score was 30-17 Wolverines.  In the second half Truckee would score first on another Nick Smith run, this time from 38 yards out.  As Truckee was keeping the Dust Devils in check, Schlesinger made another mistake and Dayton picked off another pass taking it inside Truckee’s 10 yard line.  Eventually Dayton would get another touchdown and make the score 37-23.  Kevin Schlesinger would step up again after this interception and lead the team down for yet another score.  This time he hit JR Murphy in the corner of the end zone making the score 44-23.  The Dust Devils would score last but it was too little and too late and Truckee would win 44-30.  I am sure coach Collins was not happy giving up 30 points to the Dust Devils.  Truckee’s offense came alive in this game.  Nick Smith had another big game rushing for 185 yard on 11 carries and 2 more TD’s, and Schlesinger threw for 169 yards and 3 TD’s.  The Wolverines had 407 yards rushing.  Coach Shaffer was pleased with the offensive effort and the consistency but did mention that the team is giving up too many big plays.  Something they will try to fix heading down to Durham in week 3.


Coach Shaffer and Coach Dow working with Schlesinger and the receivers. Robby Beno making the catch in this photo.

Durham is a small school in farm country about 10 minutes South of Chico.  The school has around 300 students and is similar to Yerington and Lovelock High School.  Though they are small, they are physical and they gave the Wolverines everything they could handle and then some in week 3.  The game vs Durham was a classic trap game.  We really did not know much about Durham heading into the game.  We came into the game 2-0 and feeling pretty good about ourselves.  We had several injuries heading into the game that would include: Travis Kramer, Jaime Maehler, and Nick Smith was nursing a hip injury.  We had to travel to them and they had some playmakers.  In particular they had a QB and a really good receiver who torched us.  Add up the injuries that took place within the game: Rafa Herrera pulled groin, Jacob Bohart potential fractured foot, Tom Hill ankle sprain, Matt Scholz bruised knee, Jimmy DeCoite shoulder, and Shane Wright bruised kidneys.  Not only did Truckee come into the game missing some very key pieces, they lost a lot of starters during the game.  You include that Truckee really has not been very strong in the second half of games and you have yourself a trap game.  Truckee started off the game clicking again on offense.  Schlesinger would hit Ballou on two big TD’s early.  One for a 56 yard TD and the second TD was from 61 yards out.  Ballou put together his best game of the year and really it was the best game of his career, catching 4 balls for 173 yards and two TD’s.  Mike Hackley scored a rushing TD as did Schlesinger and Truckee led the Trojans 27-14 at the half.  When Truckee came out for the second half things were different.  Just like in their first two games Truckee’s defense was not able to stop Durham.  The Trojans would got to the air taking advantage of the injuries in the secondary.  Durham was able to connect on 4 TD passes in the second half and put Truckee away 39-27.  If there was a bright spot in this game it was Kevin Schlesinger who rushed for 127 yards and a TD on top of his 265 yards passing and two TD’s.  However, he did throw two interceptions again.  Another bright spot on offense was the RB position as James Ward and Mike Hackley combined for 92 yards.  Hackley had the other TD for the Wolverines.  Truckee put up huge stats in this game but it did not always amount to points and it cost them.  Schlesinger mentioned in the Sierra Sun that he thought the team relaxes in the second half because they have such big leads at halftime.  Shaffer attributed the loss to the many injuries Truckee suffered heading into the game and during.  It was likely a combination of both of these things and Truckee would need to figure things out quickly or things will continue to spiral downward.  One thing that would need to be figured out soon would be the defensive side of the ball…Truckee giving up 29 points a game through their first three games?  That is not typical of a Wolverine team.


Sophomore, Jimmy Williams, forces a fumble and junior Bruce Knez recovers. Teammate Jacob Bohart #10 looks on.

If you’re looking to get your team back on track, playing the ROP Rams will help.  In the many years Truckee played ROP if was never really a contested matchup.  ROP is a charter school in Yerington Nevada that houses kids who are struggling and typically have been caught several times breaking the law.  I don’t know that it is the same today but that’s what it was when ROP was in Truckee’s division.  While they had great athletes that could contribute, they were never cohesive enough to give Truckee any trouble.  The matchup in 2002 was no different.  Truckee jumped out on top and never looked back as they rolled away with a big win 61-12.  The game got out of hand quick as Truckee produced a 47-0 halftime lead.  It would be a great opportunity to get players in the game that don’t play as much and start building depth and confidence within the team.  However, Shaffer kept his starters in the game at the beginning of the second half due to Truckee’s past issues slowing teams down after halftime.  The Wolverines would have no trouble in the second half of this game after Truckee quickly made it 54-0 and rolled away with the win.

The scoring for Truckee would take place early and often as Jimmy Williams took the handoff and scored the game’s first TD.  Then it was Schlesinger, in a new role, taking the punt return for a 63 yard touchdown.  It was Kevin’s first punt return of his career and he housed it!  Moments later Schlesinger would connect with Mike Acuff to make the score 20-0 and the route was on.  Then it was the defense’s turn.  ROP had a big gain and was able to get the ball down to Truckee’s 15 yard line but two plays later ROP fumbled and it was scooped up by Jason Ames who took it 85 yards for the TD.  The defensive score by Ames was the longest recorded defensive touchdown in Truckee history and it put Truckee up 27-0 in the first quarter.  The scoring did not stop there.  Early in the second quarter Schlesinger would find JR Murphy on a 65 yard pass play.  Then it was Schlesinger again running it in from 20 yards out.  The last score of the first half came from Mike Hackley on a 21 yard burst up the middle.  Things did not get easier for the Rams in the second half as Truckee took their first drive down the field and Schlesinger ran in his second TD and 3rd touchdown of the day.  After this score Shaffer put in his reserves.  Jaime Maehler, back from injury, would score his first career TD with a 14 yard touchdown run and that made the score 61-0.  The reserves would give up a couple late TD’s and the final score would be 61-12.

Notable performances: Jason Ames had 3 carries for 70 yards and a TD, defensively he had 5 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and one of those for a 85 yard score.  Pure domination.  Schlesinger had another huge game scoring 2 rushing TD’s, a Punt Return for a TD, threw for 2 TD’s and passed for 140 yards.  It was the offensive line who Shaffer gave most of the credit to, stating that the team is nothing without the guys up front.  Reading through the many comments by the seniors you could really tell that Truckee was very motivated to turnaround their second half debacles and prove they can finish a complete game.  Jason Ames stating that the team, “had a really good week of practice, that’s all you need, really.”  Truckee is hoping to build off the momentum from this game as they head to Lowry in week 5.


Juan Aguilar making a tackle for loss out at Lowry in week 5

Truckee would take their 3-1 record east to Winnemucca in week 5.  The Wolverines were coming off a big win and needed to keep the momentum.  This game turned out to be much tougher than Truckee expected and the Buckaroos gave the Wolverines all they could handle racking up 463 yards of offense, and 306 of the yards coming on the ground.  Truckee struggled with Lowry’s veer option attack that head coach Chris Ward brought to town for the Buckaroos.  Lowry controlled a lot of the game just sticking to the veer and making small gains on offense.  Lowry would run 76 offensive plays to Truckee’s 44.  Truckee was lucky to come away with the 30-20 win.  Lowry started the scoring with a 12 yard TD by RB Travis Crnkovish.  The touchdown was set up by a big 63 yard run by Jared Fifield and Lowry took the early 6-0 lead.  Truckee would answer on the next drive when Schlesinger hit Mike Acuff on a 40 yard reception setting up a Mike Hackley TD run from 13 yards out to give Truckee the lead 7-6.  Truckee would get the ball back and it was Schlesinger’s arm that would get Truckee back in scoring position when he hit Mike Hackley on a rare catch for a 39 yard gain.  That set up a Nick Smith TD run from 21 yards out giving Truckee a 14-6 lead.  Smith had been out the past two games and it was good to get him back for this game.  Lowry responded with a drive of their own and scored with just 1:05 left in the first half to make the score 14-12.  Truckee wasn’t finished yet, Schlesinger hit Jason Ames for a big gain that set up a JR Murphy field goal.  Truckee would lead 17-12 at the half.  Lowry would strike first in the second half connecting on a 56 yard touchdown pass.  Their 2 point conversion try was good and Lowry took the lead 20-17.  The Wolverines responded with another Mike Hackley score, this time from a yard out and Truckee took back the lead 23-20.  The score would stay 23-20 through the rest of the 3rd quarter and roughly halfway through the 4th.  Truckee would put the finishing touches on a hard fought game by both teams when Schlesinger hit RJ Ballou on pass play that Ballou took in for the final touchdown of the game.  The final score 30-20 Wolverines.  Schlesinger had another big day hitting 6 different receivers for 211 yards and a TD.  Mike Hackley came up big for Truckee rushing for 114 yards on 12 carries and 2 touchdowns.  Smith added 80 yards and a TD but was still nursing a hip injury.  Next up for Truckee is the Yerington Lions who are the surprise team of 2002.


Nick Smith breaks away for another touchdown vs Yerington helping Truckee come away with a big homecoming Win

Yerington was coming into Surprise Stadium with good momentum and confidence.  The Lions were 2-3 and had beat Lowry in a close game 22-18.  Truckee also had a close game with Lowry and it seemed like the homecoming crowd at Surprise Stadium was in for a great week 6 matchup.  However, that’s not what happened and really…it was no surprise.  This was Truckee’s Homecoming week and they were not going to be embarrassed on their home turf on this day.  The Lion’s did come to play for about a quarter and a half, but halfway through the second quarter Truckee figured things out and would takeover the game.  Truckee started off the scoring with a 15 yard TD pass from Schlesinger to Mike Acuff, but then the game stalled.  About halfway through the second quarter Yerington scored and converted on the 2 point try taking the lead over the Wolverines 8-7.  The touchdown was setup by another Schlesinger interception.  Truckee would, however, answer right back.  Schlesinger would make up for his mistake and run it in for the score making it 14-8 Truckee.  Truckee wasn’t finished, with just 19 seconds left in the half Schlesinger connected with JR Murphy on the 16 yard TD reception and the Wolverines would take a 22-8 lead at halftime.  The second half Truckee completely took over the game.  Nick Smith scored two times and had 72 yards on the day.  Jaime Maehler finally came alive scoring on a 70 yard TD run.  He also had 6 catches for 78 yards.  JR Murphy had a big day on offense with 104 yards on 4 catches and one of those was a TD.  Schlesinger, again, had a big day throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns.  He also rushed for another 74 yards and a TD.  Aldo Serna had some rare carries in this game and broke away for the games final TD making the final score 49-15.  Yerington’s second TD came on a fumble recovery that was run back for a 60 yard TD.  Truckee dominated a good team preparing them for the meat of their schedule.  The Wolverines, now 5-1, will make the long travel out to Spring Creek to take on the Spartans who are 5-2.


I have to pick up my pace when it comes to writing these stories.  I’m not getting any younger and my memory is just not what it used to be.  Having said that this game I remember.  I might not remember everything about it, but there are some things I remember pretty clearly.  Shaffer had been running fake punts all season long in 2002, but his biggest fake punt call of the year came on a 4th and 20 on his own 20 in this game vs Spring Creek.  I might not remember the whole game but I remember how it ended.  If there is a game that defines the 2002 team it was the game out at Spring Creek.  They had to dig deep in the second half to win this game and that was not something that they proved they could do at this point in the season.  Truckee and Spring Creek had built up a pretty healthy rivalry at this point and this game was one for the ages.  Manogue was rolling through everyone and this game had big playoff implications for what appeared to be the second seed.  This is a game I wish I had on DVD or even VHS because it was crazy.  The game had six lead changes and some big time plays made by big time players.  Truckee beat Spring Creek twice the year before and the Spartans were looking to get some revenge.  The Spartans also had some key players returning from 2001, including their QB Mike Brouse who was their best player and one of the best QB’s in their history.  The stage was set and the game did not disappoint.

Truckee would get on the board first with a connection from Schlesinger to Maehler from 35 yards out.  Maehler started the season slow due to his injuries but at this point in the season he was really coming around and making big plays for the Wolverines.  Spring Creek’s first possession Mike Brouse scored on a 55 yard TD run and he scored on the 2 pt. conversion.  The Spartans took the early lead 8-7.  Truckee would score next on a Jason Ames 36 yard run that made the score 13-8.  It didn’t take long for the Spartans to strike back as Brouse hit Dillenburg for a 44 yard TD pass.  Then after a defensive stop for the Spartans, Brouse would hit James Pond on a 64 yard TD pass making the score 20-13.  It was Truckee’s turn as Ames scored his second TD on a 2 yard run.  Truckee missed the point after and the score was 20-19.  The first half wasn’t over yet and the Spartans were not done scoring as Brouse took off on another long run.  This time he scored from 65 yards out and the score was 27-19 at halftime.  With the way Truckee had struggled throughout the year in the second half of football games, you’d have to like your chances if you’re Spring Creek.  However, Truckee came out strong in the second half as Schlesinger hit Acuff for a 12 yard touchdown making the score 25-27.  On Spring Creek’s next possession Jacob Bohart would jump a route and intercept Brouse for a pick six.  Just like that Truckee was back in the lead 32-27 and it appeared they had the momentum needed to finish the game.  Spring would not give in and put together another drive late in the 3rd quarter.  It was Dillenburg on a 36 yard touchdown run that pushed the Spartans ahead of the Wolverines 34-32.  The the game slowed down a little in the 4th quarter as the Spartans got a little conservative on offense.  Spring Creek was also able to slow down Truckee’s offense a little.  Then the Spartans put together a long drive late in the game using up valuable time.  They would reach the Red Zone and things were not looking good for Truckee.  Right when it looked like Truckee was down and out, JR Murphy intercepted a Brouse pass near the endzone and took it back to Truckee’s 20 yard line.  Unfortunately the Truckee offense was held again with stingy play by the Spring Creek defense.  With time still left on the clock Shaffer elected to punt the ball away…or did he?  Shaffer surprised everyone with a fake punt that nobody saw coming.  It was a huge play that gave Truckee much needed momentum.  The Wolverines would then put together a long drive chewing up time.  With just 8 seconds left on the clock, Schlesinger would drop back to pass.  Kevin did not see anyone open and made a dash for the endzone.  He was hit right at the goal line and with time running out the officials were discussing if Schlesinger scored…he did!  Touchdown Truckee!  Truckee would get the win 38-34.  It was a huge win and gave Truckee much needed confidence heading into the next game vs Manogue.

Schlesinger had another big night passing for 203 yards and two TD’s.  He also rushed for 78 yards including a 14 yard TD to win the game.  Jason Ames put together a great game offensively with 10 carries for 134 yards and 2 TD’s.  Maehler had another big game catching 5 passes for 89 yards and a TD.  There were some big performances when the Wolverines needed it most.  Now Truckee would have their biggest challenge yet vs the Miners.


JR Murphy going High for a ball from Schlesinger vs Manogue.

Truckee lived and died by Schlesinger’s arm in 2002. Unfortunately he had 4 INT’s vs manogue

Where as the Spring Creek game defined the 2002 Wolverines, the game against Manogue somewhat defined their season and gave everyone a glimpse into where the Nevada 3A was headed .  On one hand you never would want to count out Shaffer and the Wolverines, but on the other hand you had Joe Sellers taking his pick of all the players across the Reno area.  Manogue brought in Sellers to do one thing, bring the level of their program up to the 4A because the plan was to make the jump up within a 3 year period.  Coach Sellers was well on his way of accomplishing the plan as Manogue dominated everyone they would face in 2002.  I would bet that they could have given most teams in the 4A a run for their money.  But, Manogue was not playing in the 4A, they were playing in the 3A, and the most anticipated game of the year was finally here.  Manogue had plenty of time to think about the last time they faced Truckee when they came up short.  The matchup between the two last season took place early in the season at Surprise Stadium.  The matchup of 2002 was close to the end of the year giving the Miners well over a year to stew on the loss.  Most of the playoff implications were set with the exception to these two teams who were both undefeated in league.  So, this game was for first place seeding.  The game was played at Manogue and this would be the last game Truckee would ever play at Manogue’s old field which was adjacent to the University of Nevada.  There would be no Surprise magic to lean on in this game.  Manogue was extra juiced for this game, and for Truckee it was like walking into the “The Perfect Storm”.

This is Manogue’s old campus. It served as the campus from 1957 through 2003. You can see the old football stadium in background with a dirt track around it

#38 Matt Virden had a career day vs Truckee rushing 13 times for 174 yards and two long TD’s (65) (61)

Though Manogue was heavily favored in this game, you can never count out the Wolverines.  They are always going to compete regardless of rankings and pregame antics.  If Truckee had not turned the ball over SEVEN times they would have had a chance, but this game belonged to Manogue.  The first quarter was mostly even as the two teams would feel things out.  With 2:53 left in the first quarter the Miners kicked a 20 yard field goal to make it a 3-0 game.  Truckee was not able to get anything going on their next drive and was forced to punt.  It did not take Manogue long as Matt Virden would spin out of several Truckee tacklers and make his way 68 yards for the score.  Manogue missed the PAT and the score was 9-0.  Truckee’s next drive they started moving the ball and things were looking promising until Matt Lucero stepped in front of Schlesinger pass and took it 40 yards down to Truckee’s 11 yard line.  Soon after that Alex Bybee, Manogue’s QB, took it in from 5 yards out to make the score 16-0.  Truckee would have to get something going on the next drive and they did.  Though it came with some Shaffer shenanigans.  The Wolverines appeared to be stopped midfield and were punting the ball away…or were they?  Just like they had done all season long, Truckee converted a fake punt when the snap went to the upback, Jason Ames.  Ames would go 21 yards down to the Miner’s 21 yard line.  I was recently talking with Jason Ames and he had mentioned that Truckee was 11 for 11 on fake punts in 2002, which makes perfect sense.  He joked that the fake punts were the best offensive weapon Truckee had.  Eventually Truckee would score on a 4th and 1 when Nick Smith powered into the endzone making the score 16-7.  Truckee was in it!  However, the Wolverines, along with 7 turnovers, also had 105 yards in penalties in the first half alone.  Mistakes killed Truckee in this game.  On Manogue’s next possession it was Virden again from 61 yards out.  Manogue would make the 2 point conversion and the score was quickly 24-7.  It really could not have gone worse for the Wolverines in the first half between the penalties and turnovers.  Schlesinger was intercepted 3 times in the first half alone and 3 out of his 4 interceptions by Lucero.

#59 Nate Engblom blocked a punt as Robby Beno scooped it up for the touchdown.

Though the second half was somewhat better for the Wolverines, it was nowhere near enough.  Truckee would dig into the bag of tricks again on their second score.  On another 4th and long Truckee set up their punt team but would not punt.  This time Schlesinger would pass to Maehler and he would take the ball down to Manogue’s 31 yardline.  From there Schlesinger would make a play on 4th and 6 connecting with a receiver who took the ball down to the 3 yardline.  From there Jason Ames would run it in and make the score 24-13.  It appeared the Wolverines might have a chance, but again, the Miners answered on another long run making the score 31-13.  Late in the 3rd quarter Truckee would make a another attempt to get back in the game when Nate Engblom blocked a Manogue punt and Robby Beno scooped it up and ran it back 62 yards for the score.  That made the score 31-19 but Manogue would answer again on their next drive to make the final score 38-19.  Not only did Truckee lose the game, they lost Juan Aguilar for the season to a broken arm.  It was a tough day for the Wolverines.  Every score and drive for Truckee took a lot of work.  Nothing came easy for them.  While the Wolverines continued to fight, with fake punts and blocked punts, the Miners were just too much for Truckee.  Things came easy for Manogue and they were clearly the better team.  Everytime it felt like Truckee would get back in the game Manogue had an answer.  Truckee did put up the best fight the Miners had faced all season, giving them some hope if they face Manogue again.

There was some interesting bantar in the RGJ after the game.  Sellers was asked the question, “is this team the best team to ever wear cleats in the 3A classification?”  Coach Sellers passed on the question stating that he was not a “3A historian” and to check with the experts.  They asked the same question to Shaffer and he responded, “It’s hard to compare the teams when they don’t play each other.”  Shaffer went on to list Truckee’s 98 team and Manogue’s 99 team as recent great teams and said, “I’d like to see those 3 teams play each other.”  While Shaffer did admit Manogue was the best team in the 3A “this year”, he went on to say “I don’t think we have the type of league we’ve had in years past. There’s not a lot of competition in our league this year.”  To this point in the year Manogue had outscored their opponents 344-25 and outclassed everyone they faced.  I believe coach Shaffer and his comments about the league not being as strong as years past, but the Manogue teams of 2002 and 2003 were just built different.  They were on a mission to go up to 4A and winning 3A titles was just a stepping stone for them to arrive at their goal.  This was probably why Sellers did not want to comment on the 3A history…he didn’t care.


#25 Sophomore Jaime Maehler catches a long TD vs the North Tahoe Lakers.

In the final game of the regular season the Wolverines would take on the Lakers in the Little Big Game.  Truckee was looking for their 16th straight victory over North Tahoe but the Lakers came into Surprise Stadium with something else in mind.  The Little Big Game was one of those weekends where anything can happen.  Throw records and past matchups out the door and prepare yourself for one physical match up.  The Lakers, who were major underdogs in 2002, gave Truckee all they could handle.  I guess you can attribute some of Truckee’s disappointing first half on the hangover effect from the week prior.  You can also attribute a lot of it to North Tahoe’s preparation and game planning by their coaches.  Regardless of what it was the Lakers capitalized on Truckee errors.  Right before halftime Kevin Freeman connected with a North Tahoe receiver on a 25 yard pass play to make the score 13-7.

Anderson of North Tahoe breaks free and past the reach of JR Murphy. #42 Robby Beno is closing in for the tackle

Everyone in the stadium was Surprised and it didn’t sit well with the Wolverines.  Truckee being frustrated would not slow down the Lakers as they came out after halftime to put another drive together and go up 21-7 over Truckee.  You couldn’t help but think, is this the day the Lakers break the streak?  But not on this day.  The rest of the 3rd quarter belonged to Truckee.  First it was Jamie Maehler who caught a pass from Schlesinger for a 34-yard gain and a second pass for a 37 yard TD making the score 21-14.  After the Lakers went 3 and out on their next drive, their punter would shank the punt which was scooped up by JR Murphy and ran back to the 6 yard line.  From there Jason Ames would cross the goalline to tie the game 21-21.  The game slowed down a little from there but with five minute left in the 3rd quarter Truckee was faced with a 4th and long…guess what?  Yep, another Shaffer fake punt, this time it was Schlesinger to RJ Ballou.  Ballou would take the pass 39 yards down to the 10 yard line.  From there it was Ames again who ran it in.  Schlesinger would score on the 2 point conversion and make the score 29-21.  Manuel Soto for the Lakers would then take the kickoff past midfield on a 49 yard return.  The Lakers then put a little drive together getting into Truckee’s redzone but that all ended when big Bruce Knez sacked Freeman and he coughed up the ball.  It was Jason Ames who would scoop it up and ramble 86 yards for the score breaking his previous record for longest defensive touchdown.  Aldo Serna scored on the 2 point conversion and Truckee would lead 37-21 at the end of the 3rd quarter.  At the start of the 4th quarter Truckee would go for the jugular and recover an onside kick.  The Wolverines would then drive right down the field and score their last TD on a Schlesinger 6 yard run.  The Lakers did score last as the clock struck zero to make the final score 43-27.  The win was Truckee’s 16th in a row over their rivals. The 3rd quarter was a very explosive demonstration by the Wolverines but they would need to be more consistent heading into the playoffs if they were going to make a run at Back to Back Championships.

Playoffs: 3A Northern Quarterfinal 


A Classic game in Classic Truckee weather…the Red Wall pushing Lowry off the ball.

If you’ve played football in November at Surprise Stadium then you know weather can be a factor.  The home playoff game vs Lowry in 2002 was one of those memorable games in the snow.  This type of weather typically is a major advantage for Truckee but that’s not always the case against teams from the North.  It certainly was not the case for Truckee in 2002 as they were outmatched upfront.  When the grass is sloppy and wet the advantage usually goes to the bigger team up front.  However, toughness and experience in extremely cold conditions helps as well, and that will almost always be the Wolverines.  A couple things I remember about this game.  The first thing was that there were nerves heading into it.  Truckee was not exactly dominating teams and they had a close game with Lowry in the first matchup.  One of the difference makers in that first game was Truckee’s ability to pass.  The weather in the playoff game would somewhat neutralize that advantage.  Secondly, the weather was not bad to start the game and Truckee was able to get in a nice offensive rhythm.  The last thing I remember is that Shaffer asked me to be in the booth with coach Collins.  I was kinda bummed about it when he first asked me but as a JV guy I’d do anything I could to help.  Plus I was rather explosive in my youth and the last thing he needed was a sideline rant that ended in a 15 yard penalty.  During this game I was up in the booth with Coach Collins and a nice little heater.  It was pretty nice to be warm and it was a great view to a great football game.  I also learned a lot being up there with a great coach like Collins.  There is a reason coach Collins never complained about being in the booth and I found out during this game.  Number one it was warm.  Secondly, we literally had pizza delivered to us and anything we wanted from the snack bar.  I’m not gonna lie, it was comfortable.  That was also my first experience listening to Mr. Churchman and crew when the mic wasn’t hot…

Jason Ames makes a one hand catch in that beautiful Truckee weather. One of my favorite Truckee Football photos.

The game itself was incredible.  Both teams fighting until the very last play in overtime.  Truckee would get on the board first with a 40 yard TD pass from Schlesinger to Acuff.  The two hooked up all season long on big plays.  Lowry would put a long drive together and scored on a two yard TD run by Cmkovich.  Lowry missed the PAT and Truckee remained in the lead 7-6.  On the ensuing kickoff Matt Scholz would get a nice return.  Schlesinger would then drop back to pass and find Jason Ames on a 33 yard hookup.  That big play setup a Schlesinger TD run, the point after was good, and Truckee would lead 14-6 at halftime.  To this point in the game the weather wasn’t all that bad and Truckee did a nice job throwing the ball.

That would all change in the second half.  When the two teams came out of the locker rooms for the second half the field was covered in snow and it was dumping setting up a game for the ages.  Side note: Truckee has large poncho jackets specifically made for these conditions.  We used them in the second half of this game.  I believe it was the first time they were used and the last.  They have been in storage ever since.  Shaffer was very big on the mental game when it came to Truckee weather conditions.  Somehow in his mind, the jackets represented softness.  Maybe it came from this game watching players wanting to be warmly wrapped in a jacket vs playing in the game?  I don’t know but I’ve made it a point not to use them either.  The last thing I need running through my head is Shaffer’s voice from above calling me soft!  So, they sit in storage to this day waiting to be used by the next coach.

Lowry scored first in the second half on a QB keeper but missed the 2-point try and Truckee would continue to lead 14-12.  Truckee would respond with a drive of their own.  Schlesinger hit Acuff again on 23 yard pass play putting the Wolverines in scoring position.  Then Jason Ames would make an amazing catch from Schlesinger for a 3 yard touchdown.  By now it was really snowing hard and Truckee missed the point after try making the score 20-12.  Now in the 4th quarter, Lowry was driving but would cough up the ball.  Truckee fell on the loose ball and was looking to put the game away.  With the game winding down Truckee needed a first down and Schlesinger would make a costly mistake.  The ball was water logged and very slick.  Schlesinger had Ballou open but the ball slipped out of his hand and was intercepted by the Buckaroos.  The Truckee defense was not able to hold up and Lowry’s QB, Watterson, busted away from the defense for a 40 yard touchdown.  Watterson would also take the ball in for the 2 point conversion and the game was now tied 20-20 with just 2:08 left in the game.  The Wolverines were really pushing for the score to end the game and nearly made another caphastratic mistake when Schlesinger threw another interception.  The Truckee defense would hold up and the game went into overtime.  Shaffer knew that Truckee would be at a disadvantage in overtime.  Lowry’s strength was running the football and they were big in the trenches.  The overtime rules in the NIAA are pretty simple, first and goal from the 10 and both teams get a chance.  Truckee would get the ball first in overtime.

One of the more memorable games at Surprise Stadium. Truckee took down the Buckaroos in overtime.

Nick Smith took the handoff on the first play and would nearly score getting down to the one yardline.  Truckee was hit at the line for no gain on second down setting up a 3rd and goal at the one yardline.  The next play Schlesinger would hand the ball off the Hackley and he dove in for the touchdown.  What normally would be an easy decision to kick the extra point, turned into a risky call but JR Murphy would kick the extra point through to make it a 27-20 game.  The Truckee defense had struggled most of the season to stop teams and they would now need to stop a quality run team to advance to the State Semifinals.  On first down Lowry gained 4 yards on their dive option.  Truckee would then get a tackle for a two yard loss setting up a 3rd and goal from the 8 yardline.  Things were looking much better for Truckee, but Jason Ames would jump offsides and now Lowry would have the ball at the 4 yardline.  The Truckee defense would come up big on the next play tackling Watterson for a 3 yard loss.  This would setup a 4th and goal from the 7 yardline. Watterson would rollout to his right giving himself time to throw.  As he was rolling out he saw a wide open receiver.  He would then throw across his body to the open receiver that was standing in the middle of endzone.  Out of nowhere Chris Anderson made the play of the game knocking down the pass and sending the Wolverines to Virgin Valley to take on the Bulldogs!  Shaffer was quoted in the Sierra Sun “that was a life saver, Chris Anderson knocking the ball down.”  It was an awesome way to win the game because Truckee’s defense struggled to get stops throughout the year.  Truckee has always prided themselves on solid defensive play.  When the Wolverines needed it most, their backs were at the “T” and they got the stop to win the game.  Truckee would now travel south where it is always difficult to get a win.

Round 2 of the NIAA Playoffs State Semifinals

WEEK 11 TRUCKEE 21 Virgin Valley 7 

Mike Acuff with the big catch in the Semifinals vs Virgin Valley

In all the years Truckee has traveled south to play in the Semi’s it hasn’t turned out in the Wolverine’s favor.  In fact up to this point in history, Truckee had only gone south one other time and won the game.  That team was the 1982 Wolverines who beat Moapa Valley to face Manogue in the State Championship. Since then: 1991 loss at Boulder, 1992 loss at Moapa Valley, 1997 loss at Virgin Valley, 1999 loss at Moapa Valley.  Include the fact that Truckee was stuck in the gym practicing the week before and the challenge was on to travel South and get a win.  The Wolverines were up for the challenge!  Jacob Bohart had a huge game with 3 interceptions and 8 tackles.  Virgin Valley had 6 turnovers and it’s hard to win games turning the ball over.  Schlesinger had another big day throwing the ball going 15 for 19, 204 yards and an 11 yard TD pass to Maehler.  Though Virgin Valley had over 200 yards, it did not amount to points and the Truckee defense stepped up to secure the win and send Truckee to their second straight State Championship. RJ Ballou had a big day with 5 receptions and 104 yards.  Both Mike Hackley and Nick Smith scored on the ground and secured the 21-7 win for the Wolverines.  This was the one and only time that Shaffer traveled south in the Semifinals and came away with a win.  It just proves how big of win this was for Truckee.  They earned it and now would face their biggest challenge yet…the rematch with Manogue for the State Title.


WEEK 12 TRUCKEE 0 Manogue 37

It was a rough day for most Wolverines. #31 Smith was Truckee’s leading rusher with 33 yards on 10 carries.

The Sierra Sun headline reads, “SHUT OUT”.  Truckee’s offense went 3 and out their first 3 possessions and Manogue’s offense scored on their first three possessions and never looked back.  It was a rough day for the Wolverines who played extremely well the week before in Virgin Valley.  In their first matchup

The team leaned on Schlesinger all season but Kevin had a rough State game giving the ball up 3 times on fumbles

Truckee did some good things and with some corrections knew they had a chance heading into the State Game.  However, the truth was they had no chance.  Truckee did not come to play and the Miner’s had something to prove.  This was Manogue’s league now and they put a exclamation point on it.  Truckee had dominated the 3A for the better part of 14 years until this day.  I can’t remember too many games where a Shaffer offense has been shutout but it happened in the 2002 State game.  For Schlesinger he did not have his best game going 13 for 30, 126 yards, and had three fumbles.  Truckee only rushed for 42 yards, 33 of those yards from Nick Smith.  Manogue dominated every facet of this game from start to finish.  As much as Manogue was a dominate team, a lot of it was just the Wolverines not showing up.  RJ Ballou quoted in the Sierra Sun, “They were good, but definitely not 37-0 good.”  Truckee had 10 total turnovers combined in both games vs Manogue and you just can’t win games with those kinds of mistakes.

#65 Chris Anderson in pursuit of the football.

For Kevin Schlesinger he was the offensive player of the year in the North, broke a Nevada State record for career passing yards, and basically carried Truckee’s offense in 2002.  He had a great career at Truckee playing in two State Championship games and leading the team to a win in 2001.  After the loss to Manogue a dejected Shaffer gave them credit but then said, “you can’t play your B-game against Manogue, let alone your C, D, or E.”  Schlesinger after the game stated, “It went to quick.  Everyone wrote us off from the beginning and we made it here.  There’s nothing we can do about it, they’re the State Champions now.”  There was a sense of accomplishment that Truckee made it back to the State game and had a chance to defend their Championship.  I feel like we are spoiled at Truckee with the amount of winning that has taken place.  Obviously the goal is to win it all, but it doesn’t always workout the way you plan or the way you want it to.  In the end Manogue was a better team.  They dominating the season and dominated the State Championship.  They deserved it.


Kevin Schelsinger- Offensive MVP

RJ Ballou- 1st Team WR

Mike Acuff- 1st Team TE

Jason Ames- 1st Team DE

Aldo Serna- 1st Team LB

James Ward- 1st Team FS

JR Murphy- 1st Team kicker

2002 RECAP

Manogue was able to run the ball virtually with no resistance in the two games vs Truckee

It’s unfair to judge the 2002 team strictly by what happened in the State Championship game, but it is also a hard thing to forget when you are thinking about the 2002 season.  When it is all said and done the 2002 team is one of seven Truckee Runner Up teams.  In Truckee that’s not always accepted, but if you make it to a State Championship game you have accomplished something special.  This team gave themselves the chance to defend their title and that within itself is hard to do.  Beating Virgin Valley at Virgin Valley in the Semifinals was the one and only time Shaffer had done so and Coach Estabrook never did it.  That was a big win.  They had a great come from behind win out a Spring Creek scoring with 7 seconds on the clock, and they had a crazy playoff win in overtime in some great Truckee weather.  To me this will always be the year of the fake punt.  Fake punt after fake punt and teams were never ready for it.  There were some great things about this team, and there were some flaws.  This team did not have the strongest defense and that hurt them against better teams.  Often the 2002 team would struggle in the second half of games.  Truckee’s run game was not great in 2002 either.  This put a lot of pressure on Schlesinger.  Kevin carried the team offensively both with his arm and legs.  If he wasn’t having his best day, the team wasn’t having their best day.  Other bright spots for the 2002 team were Jason Ames who could always be counted on to step up.  Nick Smith was great when he was healthy.  Ballou had some explosive games.  Bohart had a pretty quiet season but stepped up huge at Virgin Valley.  Mike Acuff was very consistent all season and Jaime Maehler proved he was a football player.  JR Murphy was also big for this team and he would be counted on heavily heading into the 2003 season.

TOP LEFT: Bruce Knez, Ben Tonon, Shane Wright, Kendall Burton, JR Murphy, Jaime Maehler, Chris Miller, Kyle VanArsdale, Marc Ventre 2ND ROW FROM THE TOP: Benji Islas, Rafa Miranda, Mike Hackley, Cory Arth, Gordon Neelands, Jon Riley, Omar Serna, Tom Hill, Daniel Ballou, Chris Tennant 3RD ROW FROM TOP: Paul Tierney, Marcus Waters, Coach Doughty, Coach Bagnall, Coach Fertitta, Coach Shaffer, Coach Garrow, Coach Ivens, Coach DeCoite, Kevin Embertson, Randon Nunez 4TH FROM THE TOP: Joe Lipnosky, Keith Pippo, Denver Schaffarzick, Logan Hunt, Kyle Young, Nick Costa, Nathan Wrenn, Ian Casey, Miles Person, Nick Smith FRONT ROW: Jimmy Williams, Buck Claesson, Ricky Sausser, S. Moore, Nick Cabral, Chris Anderson, Cameron Lewis, Mike Passalalpi, Pat Baird, Ruben Martinez, Lupe Lopez

2003: 9-2 (5-0 League) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Semi-Final

I’ve been anxiously awaiting to cover the 2003 season.  Several pivotal things took place around this time that would alter my life and shape the future of Truckee football.  After the 2002 football season I was hired at Truckee High as a long term substitute in the PE department.  In late January of 2003 I was hired on full time as a PE teacher at Truckee High School by principal Mike Finney.  I’m forever grateful for Mr. Finney and his confidence in me at the time of my hiring.  To this day Mike checks in with me via email and I appreciate that.  The man cares and he was a great guy to work for.  He gave me my first opportunity and I ran with it!  I started in the weight room my first year of teaching, so I was able to help get as many athletes as possible to use the same programming that Shaffer was using with the football team.  It was a game changer getting the freshman and JV teams rolling with the same programing that the varsity was using.  Also, in the offseason of 2002 coach Collins stepped back from coaching to spend time with family.  While this was a huge loss, it did lead to the hiring of a new defensive coordinator, Jim Doughty.  Doughty is an extremely talented football coach and he would make an immediate impact on the program.  I cannot express enough how much his hiring helped me grow as a coach.  I remember thinking at some point in 2003 that every meeting and practice was like a hands-on football clinic.  The amount of detail and coaching that went into every rep, drill, and day of practice was amazing.  I know the players that have been coached by Doughty know exactly what I am talking about.  I had a front row seat everyday learning from the best!

Chasing Tradition is somewhat my story as I reflect on what it means to be part of Truckee football.  I have been so blessed over the years to be part of this great tradition and this is my chance to start talking about my journey to where I am today.  It’s important to me that I thank and display gratitude to those who have had a major influence on me and my coaching career.  So, from this point forward I will not only give my readers the most accurate historic perspective that I can but also provide a window into my progression as a coach while providing a personal account to one of the best coaches (Shaffer) and coaching staffs in the history of the NIAA.  The year 2003 was a huge year for me personally as I was hired for my first teaching job, my first born was due in the spring of 2003, and coach Shaffer had the confidence to hire me onto his varsity football staff!  I loved coaching JV football and, if Shaffer wanted me to, I would have gladly stayed on his JV staff for as long as he needed me to do so.  However, I was a young and hungry coach in 2003.  I wanted more than anything to be on Shaffer’s staff.  I was ready for the challenge and I was absolutely honored that Shaffer hired me as his defensive back coach and Special Teams coach for the 2003 season.  A time that I will never forget for many reasons.

I think one of the most important things that I’ve taken from coach Shaffer is his ability to adapt and always push the limits of success.  Shaffer wasn’t the old disgruntled coach that was stuck in his ways.  He always seemed a step ahead of the coaches and programs he was coaching against.  Whether that be scheme, in-season preparation, offseason preparation, or philosophy, he was always ahead of those trying to stop him.  What’s that old saying?  “Winners focus on winning, and losers focus on winners.”  That’s Truckee.  We’re not focussed on what others are doing, we are focussed on what we need to do to be successful and to have a winning edge.  That can change from one year to the next or one game to the next.  In 2003 Shaffer made a another great decision that would shape the program’s success for the next three seasons.  That decision was to fully platoon our offense and defense.  The only players that played both offense and defense for Truckee in 2003 was JR Murphy and Nick Cabral.  However, Murphy practiced on the defensive side of the ball on most days and Cabral practiced on offense as a Running Back.  Shaffer split our coaching staff in half and we actually had a draft where we chose our offensive and defensive teams, with the exception of Paul Tierney and Jaime Maehler who we all knew needed to be on offense.  Truckee’s numbers were up the couple years prior to 2003 and we were able to field all 3 levels successfully.  So, we had the numbers and the depth in the right places to try and pull this off.  It made practice very competitive.  Players only had to learn one side of the ball and we were able to install a lot of scheme due to increased practice time.  It was best on best everyday…”Iron Sharpens Iron.”  In my opinion this was a game changer for Truckee.  It might not have panned out the way we wanted it to in 2003 but it launched us into a very successful 2004 and 2005 campaign that is unmatched.  I guess you can say that 2003 was the learning curve for all of us when it came to the ends and outs of platooning.

2003 Coaching Staff


Shaffer- Head Coach, Offensive play caller, RB’s

Nik Fertitta- QB and WR Coach

Rick Bagnall- Offensive Line Coach


Jim Doughty- Defensive Coordinator and LB’s Coach

Josh Ivens- Defensive Backs and Special Teams Coach

Bob Garrow- Defensive Ends Coach

Dennis DeCoite- Defensive tackles Coach

This was an Allstar coaching staff and it was so much fun to coach with these guys.  Not only did the players compete everyday in practice but the coaching staff was competitive as well.  I got to coach against coach Shaffer’s offense everyday in practice…talk about a great opportunity to learn.  Some might remember our shutout streak of the 2009 and 2010 season which totaled at 7 games.  The success we had defensively when I was Shaffer’s defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2012 started in these practices in 2003.  Being around coach Garrow who played division 1 football, Doughty had played and coached at a high level, and everyone knows that coach DeCoite is a legend.  I learned a ton.  We also coached the Sertoma Classic in June of 2003.  This was somewhat a trial run of what my role would be in 2003 giving me some confidence heading into our season.  I remember Dave DeCoite came back from the University of Montana around this time and we coached the DB’s together for a few days at Sertoma practice.  I learned a lot from Dave in just a couple days of work.  That was my first introduction to cover 4 match rules that would be a staple in our coverage for many years to come.  Getting to be around and coach the Manogue kids who stomped us in the State game was a really cool experience.  To me, that was the best part about the Sertoma Classic All-star game.  You have all these local kids who spent their whole careers competing against each other with a serious edge, and then have to be teammates.  It was neat to see the players put all that stuff aside and come together to play together.  As it would turnout the game was a complete blowout.  The West would beat the East so badly in this game that the Board of Trustees for the Sertoma Foundation changed the rules going forward.  From 2004 on the game would no longer feature East vs West but Blue vs Silver.  The two coaches would get together beforehand and draft schools so that it would be more competitive.  Anyways…let’s get into the 2003 Wolverines!

2003 Captains

JR Murphy

JR Murphy is one of the best athletes to graduate from Truckee in the new Millenium

Murphy was a 3 sport athlete at Truckee playing football, basketball, and baseball.  Most athletes have one sport that they like the most or maybe they are better at one sport over the other.  With JR, he was just as good at football as he was at basketball, as he was at baseball.  He was a stud athlete for Truckee and though he chose to go the baseball route in college, he could have easily gone the football route as well.  He was an important piece to everyone of the programs that he played for and he is a testament to why kids should play multiple sports and not be so focused on sport.  Murphy came back to Truckee after his baseball playing career and eventually became Truckee High’s head baseball coach.  He won back to back State Championships in 2018 and 2019.  He also lead the Wolverines to a State Runner-Up in 2021 before stepping away.  I’m honored to have had coach Murphy also be part of my football coaching staff from 2017 to present.  He recently was promoted in his job and had to step away from coaching all together but he’s made a huge impact on our youth in this town and he was also one heck of a football player in his day.  Murph was the heart and soul of the 2003 team and we relied on his experience all season.  He was one of two players who played on both sides of the ball strictly because he was so vital to the team in all aspects including special teams.  To me, Murph is one of the best athletes to come through the school since I’ve been a teacher at Truckee.  Well deserved captain and a necessary piece to what we were trying to accomplish with this team.  Murph helped lead the team and guide the path to where Truckee was headed.  Murph played Razor for us in 2003, was our kicker, and played receiver when needed.

Bruce Knez & Cory Arth

#61 Knez and #66 Arth were leaders on the 2003 Wolverines

Bruce knez and Cory Arth were the other two captains on the 2003 team.  It was awesome to have both of these guys recognized for all their hard work they put in for 4 years.  Especially big Bruce Knez who you’d be lucky to get a word out of him.  He wasn’t our focal leader but he was our big guy who anchored the defensive line.  Knez was extremely strong, a 1000 pound club guy, and just played hard every down.  Arth was more our mad scientist.  An extremely smart kid who played center for us and was the leader of the Red Wall.  Any adjustments needed upfront Cory took care of it.  Arth was also a very hard worker in the weight room.  Both of these guys tipped the scale a little in our favor being the biggest guys we had upfront.  Both were great teammates and recognized by their peers as leaders.  They did the right things on and off the field.  It is always great to see lineman be leaders.  They are rarely in the spotlight and never ask to be.  The most selfless position in all of sports is the offensive lineman.

Young Noteworthy Players:

This team only had 13 seniors.  Other than JR Murphy, Nick Smith, and Mike Hackley, the majority of the playmakers on this team were juniors.  It was a young team.  There are so many noteworthy players on this team that mentioning a handful seems unfair.  Having said that, I believe it is worth mentioning up front that this team had the most prolific offensive duo in Truckee history.  Kevin Schlesinger started at QB for three seasons.  So, naturally, losing him to graduation was a huge deal.  The QB was a big question mark heading into the 2003 season but I knew from being a JV coach that Paul Tierney would do just fine.  He did more than just fine, he killed it and had two of the most dominating seasons a QB has ever had at Truckee.  Paul Tierney to Jaime Maehler is the most prolific pass combination in Truckee history.  As we work our way through each game it will be evident.  Also on this team Randon Nunez who played in the secondary.  Unfortunately with the way things unfolded in 2003 Randon played cornerback but he was our best free safety.  He did play some free safety but because of the platoon philosophy he had to play corner.  Jimmy Williams was an inside linebacker and second year varsity player.  He always brought the energy on the defensive side of the ball.  As we make our way through this season you will see that there were a lot of young players on this team who made an impact.


Nick Smith breaks away from the Vaqueros. Smith had 10 carries for 61 yards and a TD.

Murphy making the interception at the 1 yard line.

Truckee started off the season vs the Vaqueros.  The past two seasons the matchups with Fernley were highly contested games.  Luckily for the Wolverines they’d get to play Fernley at home after having to play at Fernley for two seasons in a row.  This game was also highly contested for about a quarter and a half, then Truckee ran away with it.  For most of the 1st half neither team could move the ball with any success.  Fernley had several chances in Wolverine territory but was not able to score.  At one point they were inside the Truckee 20 yard line but JR Murphy would leap up to make a great interception at the one yard line.  However, Truckee was not able to get anything going until about 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter when Fernley muffed a punt.  Truckee recovered the fumble at the Fernley 12 yard line and after a TD was called back by a penalty, Paul tierney hit Jaime Maehler for the season’s first touchdown.  One of many connections that these two would make over the next two seasons.  Shorty after Truckee’s first score, Fernley had to punt again and Truckee took over on their own 27 yard line with 1:50 left in the half.  Everyone got to see what Paul Tierney is about on this drive as he made quick work of the Fernley defense hitting Gordon Neelands for a 13 yard gain and then hit Maehler on an 8 yard pass.  Coming out of a timeout, Tierney hit Neelands again and this time Gordon shook off defenders and took it down to the 16 yard line.  With a minute left on the clock Neelends made another catch getting the ball down to the 3 yard line.  Two players later it was Nick Smith, who is no stranger to the endzone, scored his first touchdown of the 2003 season.  Truckee had the 14-0 lead at halftime.

“You Got Mossed”. Maehler and Murphy were mossing secondaries all season long

In the second half Truckee had the momentum and they would use that to run away with the win.  Truckee would first half to kickoff to Fernley and the Vaqueros would go 3 and out.  Truckee put together a 73 yard drive that was highlighted by a 40 yard Mike Hackley catch.  Maehler capped off the drive with a 21 yard run and Truckee was now up 21-0.  Not much changed after kicking off to Fernley, it was a 3 and out, and Truckee started their next drive at their own 28 yard line.  The next Truckee drive was set up by a long Nick Smith Run and a 10 yard catch by Gordon Neelands.  Neelands had a big day catching 5 passes for 85 yards.  However, this drive ended with JR Murphy out jumping the defense to make a great touchdown catch.  Tierney really knew how to utilize the height of both Maehler and Murphy, it was like stealing.  Truckee went up 28-0.  On the next drive it was time for the youngster to get involved.  Ben Tonon was the only sophomore on this team and he was a beast.  He would drag defenders and gain 20 yards on this drive.  Scotty Moore caught a pass as well as Smith who would take it down to the one.  From there Hackley would run it in.  The last touchdown was setup by a Fernley fumble and Nathan Wrenn jumped on the ball giving the Truckee offense a short field.  Lupe Lopez would run it in from 28 yards to score Truckee’s last touchdown.  While it took truckee a while to get rolling on offense, they had a great first game.  Fernley was punting all day and eventually the offense took advantage of it.  A great team win to start the season with a young team.  Tierney threw for 250 yards and 2 TD’s and was able to get the whole team involved in the offense.  Truckee dominates game one 42-0!


In week two Truckee traveled to Dayton to take on a much improved Dust Devil program.  The Wolverines played physical defense that forced Dayton into 4 turnovers.  One of those being JR Murphy’s second interception on the season.  All of Dayton’s turnovers turned into Truckee points as the Wolverines rolled up the Dust Devils.  Shaffer praised the defensive play of Chris Anderson, Bruce Knez, and Jimmy Williams.  Truckee did have 200 yards in penalties which amounts to forty 110’s, wow!  Truckee had over 500 yards of offense.  Tierney passed for another 262 yards and 2 TD’s.  Nick Smith had a solid game as well with 104 yards rushing and a TD.  Hackley grounded out 84 yards on the ground and Maehler had 7 catches for 119 yards.  The Wolverines were no doubt ahead of their opponents at this time of the year.  Platooning doubles the amount of time you can spend on one side of the ball and it really helped us with this young team.  Truckee wins 42-7 and they start the season 2-0.


Maehler going up for another catch vs Durham

This was 100% a revenge game.  Durham embarrassed us in 2002.  It was a game we should have won but we overlooked them and got trapped.  That was not going to happen in 03.  We had our defense so ready for this game and we made this game hurt.  Shaffer commented in the Sierra Sun, “That’s the defense I’d been looking for all year.”  It’s not like the defense hadn’t been playing well.  This was the second shutout of the season and the Truckee defense had only given up 7 points in three games!  Shaffer was referring to the violence that our defense played with in this game.  We were fired up.  Too fired up as we’d get a 15 yard penalty right out of the gate.  It’s a beautiful thing when all 3 phases of the game are clicking as one.  From JR Murphy kicking touchbacks, to 3 and outs by the defense, to an explosive fast paced offense, Truckee had momentum early in the season and the Trojans fell victim to a team who was hitting on all cylinders.

The game started with the Truckee defense getting a stop and forcing a punt.  Nick Smith had a great return passed midfield and the offense worked its way down to the Trojan 10 yard line but then the drive stalled and Murphy kicked a field goal, Truckee leads 3-0.  Next, Truckee’s defense forced a 3 and out and on the ensuing punt Nick Smith took it 56 yards for the touchdown.  Just like that Truckee was leading 9-0.  On the Trojan’s next possession big Bruce Knez woke up making several big hits and one of those for a sack.  Truckee would get the ball in great field position again and make quick work of Durham’s defense when Mike Hackley broke away on a 31 yard TD run making the score 16-0.  Like clock work, the next drive for the Trojans ended in a quick punt to the Wolverines and Truckee would score again in just 3 plays when Tierney hit Mike Hackley on a screen that went the distance.  Truckee leading 22-0.  Finally in the second quarter the Trojans had their chance to score.  After a Tierney interception that was taken to the 50 yard line, the Trojans QB broke away on a 37 yard gain.  That’s where the drive would end as the Trojans went backwards from that point after a Jimmy Williams and Knez sack.  That brought up a 4th and 20 and Nate Wrenn would get a sack.  The Trojans turned the ball over on downs.  Tierney took advantage of the stop and made up for his mistake by driving the Wolverines down the field with his arm hitting Neelands on a big gain and hitting several receivers until the drive was capped off with a 6 yard touchdown pass to Shane Wright.  Truckee had a 29-0 lead at halftime and would roll from there.  Smith would score again in the second half on a 47 yard touchdown run making the score 36-0.  Eventually Durham would make a play when their QB hit receiver Jordan Courtain for a big gain down to Truckee’s 3 yard line.  With their backs to the T, the Truckee defense would step up and have a goal line stand after Murphy picked off his 3rd pass of the season.  Fittingly, Truckee’s last score came on a blocked punt by Jimmy Williams that was scooped up by Shane Wright and carried in for the score.  Truckee dominates in every phase 43-0.  I remember the handshake after the game was not pleasant.  I think Durham might have been thinking they were going to have similar success to 2002 but that didn’t happen.  Truckee is now 3-0 and playing with high energy.


The 2003 Captains leading the Wolverines onto the field out in Yerington.

After having their best game on defense Truckee followed that up with their worst.  Truckee made the trip out to Yerington to play the ROP Rams and gave up big plays early in the game that resulted in points for the Rams.  ROP was able to keep the game close for the first half until Truckee made some adjustments.  It was by far the most points the Wolverines had given up all season and it was a good learning opportunity for the young team.  Thankfully the offense came to play and also had big plays for Truckee.  Nick Smith scored 3 touchdowns on the day and rushed for 89 yards to lead the ground attack.  Mike hackley also had a solid day rushing putting in 60 yards and a touchdown.  Jaime Maehler had a huge day with 152 yards on just 3 catches and a TD.  Tierney had another 216 yards and 3 touchdowns.  In his first four games games Tierney threw for 878 yards and 8 TD’s.  He is on pace for a huge season.  Truckee Will now have to prepare for Lowry who they beat in overtime in last year’s playoff game.  Luckily for Truckee they get the Buckaroos at home.


Big Day for JR Murphy as he goes for the catch vs Lowry

#4 Randon Nunez oulls down a Lowry runningback

Another epic battle vs the Lowry Buckaroos.  Lowry gave Truckee everything they could handle on their Homecoming.  Truckee started off the season firing on all cylinders virtually going unchallenged in their first 4 games.  That all changed when they faced Lowry at home.  We expected a close game and that’s what we got.  Lowry played us very tough making stops and forcing us to punt in this game.  This was also the first game that Truckee didn’t score on their first possession of the game.  However, Truckee did score first on a 10 yard pass play from Tierney to JR Murphy.  It didn’t come easy as Truckee was stopped multiple times at the one yard line before picking up several penalties that moved them back to a 1st and goal from the 10 and that’s when Tierney hit Murph for the score.  Truckee had the lead at half time 7-0.  Truckee got the ball first coming out at the half but went 3 and out.  This was the most the Truckee offense had struggled all season.  Lowry had pretty good field position and a couple plays into their next drive they dialed up a reverse that caught Truckee off guard and receiver, Gavin Owsley, took it for a 59 yard score.  The score now tied 7-7.  On Truckee’s next possession they went 3 and out again, but again the defense would hold up.  This time Truckee would rough the punter and give Lowry a first down at midfield.  A couple plays later Lowry would cough up the ball and Truckee recovered at the 50 yard line.  On the Wolverine’s second play Nick Smith broke away for a 50 yard touchdown giving Truckee the 14-7 lead.  It would not last long as Lowry forced Tierney to fumble on Truckee’s next drive. They got the ball at Truckee’s 36 yard line, their best field position all day.  Lowry was able to get some first downs but was stopped when JR Murphy picked off his 4th pass of the season.  Truckee’s offense was not able to take advantage and would punt again.  Now, well into the 4th quarter Lowry came up with their best drive of the day that was aided by several Truckee personal fouls.  Eventually Lowry would be faced with a 4th and 12 and their QB found Michael Fox who made his way through the Truckee defense and scored to tie the game 14-14.  Truckee needed a drive but again was forced to punt.  With 4:42 left on the clock Lowry took over on Truckee’s 48 yard line.  The Buckaroos were able to work the ball into field goal range and would eventually kick it through the uprights to take a 17-14 lead.  The Truckee offense had struggled the better part of the day but when they needed it most they dug deep.  With 2:30 left in the game Tierney wasted no time.  He connected with Maehler on a 20 yard pass to get to the 50 yard line.  Tierney would connect again with Maehler, this time for the game winning touchdown.  Maehler out jumped the defender to make a great catch for the win.  With still time on the clock Lowry dropped back to pass only to be intercepted by JR Murphy again.  His second interception of the game and 5th on the year.  Tierney with another big game throwing for 237 yards and 3 TD’s.  Jamie Maehler caught six passes for 109 yards and the winning touchdown.  This was a gutsy win for the Wolverines who had to fight for it for the first time in this season, and the Homecoming crowd got to see one heck of a game.  The last three games with Lowry have been very competitive.


Truckee comes down the stairs to TNT, as Sparks is educated on Truckee Tradition their first season down in the 3A

This was the beginning of the NIAA allowing teams who were struggling to play at their own level to drop down and compete in smaller divisions.  I’m not a fan of this action but it doesn’t appear to be something that will go away anytime soon as it is happening today more than ever.  A new term would arise around 2010 called “Competitive Balance.”  This would allow for schools who have a much higher enrollments to drop down to the 3A in order to compete.  The first of these teams to drop was Sparks in 2003.  Sparks has been a good contributing member of the 3A for the past 20 years now and I can’t imagine them not in our league at this point.  Truckee did play the Railroaders back in the late 70’s.  So, this would not be the first time the two teams had faced each other.  Sparks made things interesting in the first half which was unfortunately becoming a norm for the Wolverines.  After starting off the season strong, the defense would struggle the rest of the season to have the same success.  This game vs Sparks started fast and furious as Mike Hackley scored first on a 1 yard TD.  Sparks answered Truckee’s first score on a 77 yard pass play to tie the game.  It wasn’t long before Truckee scored again when Nick Smith ran it in from 25 yards out then Tierney hit Maehler on a 33 yard pass play to put Truckee up 21-7.  That was short lived as Sparks scored the next two touchdowns to make the score 21-21.  With just minutes left in the half Truckee would drive down and Mike Hackley scored again from one yard out.  Truckee had the lead at halftime 27-21 and it appeared that Sparks came to play.  However, the second half belonged to the Wolverines.  Truckee made their adjustments and came out and derailed the Railroaders.  The Truckee defense forced Sparks to punt 3 times in the 3rd quarter and all three times it led to Truckee touchdowns.  Hackley had a big day scoring 3 TD’s.  Not as big a day as Tierney and Maehler who were breaking State and School records.  Tierney passed for 333 yards which is a school record to this day.  Maehler’s 9 receptions for 227 yards and two TD’s was a NIAA record and school record for yardage.  Truckee stays unbeaten and would now face Spring Creek who is always a tough game.


Paul Tierney using his legs for success vs Spring Creek

#21 James Edwards is the NIAA’s 2nd All-time leader in rushing yards and 1st in total TD’s

Unfortunately I’m at the stage where I can’t remember much about each game or each week of the season.  I mostly remember the players and many of the stories that made each season unique.  However, the details of 2003 have left me.  I do remember that this was James Edward’s sophomore year for the Spartans. Edwards was a running back for Spring Creek.  This is a good opportunity to introduce James as he has several NIAA rushing records and he would be a big factor in the Northern 3A for the next 3 seasons.  James was the focal point of the Spring Creek offense for 3 seasons.  He had good speed, was very strong, and was very difficult to tackle.  Spring Creek has since changed their offense but in this era when you played Edwards and Joal Jund (Head Coach) you best be prepared for Power Football.  They ran some toss and play action pass but “God’s Play” was at the top of the menu for the Spring Creek offense.  We like to call Power “God’s Play” as it is the perfect play when the execution is on point.  Spring Creek would lineup in offset I-Backs and pound the rock over and over.  I spent many nights dreaming up ways to stop James Edwards and the power.  I’m guessing that 85% of Edward’s rushing yards came on Joel Jund’s Power.  In 2003 Spring Creek made the trip to Truckee to play the league matchup.  It was a pretty even matchup with two teams that moved the ball quite differently.  Truckee was a throwing team and Spring Creek ran the football.  After a bit of a sluggish start by both teams it was Spring Creek who would strike first.  After a costly fumble by a scrambling Paul Tierney, Spring Creek was able to put a drive together and take advantage of Truckee’s mistake.  After several James Edward’s attempts he finally scored on a 1 yard TD.  The QB scored on a 2 point conversion and the score was 8-0 Spartans.  Truckee would respond with a drive of their own.  Behind a couple nice passes from Tierney to Neelands and a big 19 yard completion to Shane Wright Truckee was able to move the ball inside the 10.  Nick Smith ran it in for the score and the 2 point conversion failed.  Spring Creek still leading 8-6.  The Spartans put another drive together featuring a two back attack with Edwards and Brandon Lofftus.  The two of them traded handoffs but it was Edwards who scored again with just 2 minutes left in the half to make it 15-6 Spartans.  It was the first time in the 2003 season that Truckee did not lead at the half.  In the second half both offenses struggled to start the half.  However, when Truckee got the ball for the second time in the half they took advantage of a big run by Mike Hackley who ran it down to the Spring Creek 11 yard line.  From there is was a run by Ben Tonon down to the 2 yard line and then Nick Smith again with his 2nd rushing TD of the day.  The score now 15-13.  Spring Creek responded again to make the score 21-13 and that’s when Truckee made the comeback in the 4th quarter.  Truckee would eventually make it a 21-20 game setting up a dramatic finish.  Late in the 4th quarter Tierney would drop back and find Jaime Maehler on a long touchdown pass to seal the win 27-21!  Truckee was able to hold Edwards to 124 yards on 33 carries and 2 TD’s.  That doesn’t sound great but Edwards was averaging well over 200 yards a game.  It was quite the accomplishment against one of the best NIAA running backs of all time.


Tierney had a difficult first half but kept fighting to the end

Kenny Viser breaking free from Randon Nunez.

The story should be two undefeated teams battling it out to a close finish for the league title but that’s not what happened.  Everyone knew at this point that Manogue was headed up to the 4A.  Joe Sellers was hired to make this happen and win 3A titles on the way out.  Manogue, the High and Mighty of Northern Nevada, shows up to Truckee with signs that read, “God Loves Us More.”  Very fitting and sums up Manogue during this era.  Manogue came to Truckee in 2003 not just to win but to embarrass us.  Mission accomplished.  Being the special teams coach, I vividly remember not being able to find players to put on the field.  At some point in this game some of our kids gave up and did not want to step on the field and lots of injuries took place.  I remember thinking that this must be what other coaches deal with when playing Truckee.  We got a taste of our own medicine in a way.  Kenny Viser absolutely shredded us for 235 yards and 4 TD’s.  Before Truckee even knew what hit them they were down 42-0 at halftime.

Cabral was another player on the 2003 team that ended up playing on both sides of the ball.

Truckee was able to do some things in the second half but it was too little too late and Manogue would answer every Truckee score.  Tierney would finish the game with 111 yards passing, 3 TD’s, but did have an interception.  Paul did not have much time to throw in the first half as he was sacked 4 times but he hung in there and demonstrated toughness when others wanted no part of the game.  Jaime Maehler caught 4 passes for 81 yards and all 3 TD’s for Truckee.  The end of this game might have been the most eventful thing to take place.  With very little time left on the clock Truckee was down 63-14 but was driving.  When Truckee got down into the Redzone Manogue ran their first team defense back onto the field in an attempt to keep us from scoring.  This sent coach Shaffer over the edge.  He was not happy.  I remember Shaffer yelling across the field at Sellers and his staff.  The quotes in the RGJ from Shaffer after the game were very telling.  Shaffer is known to be very composed and always PC with officials, coaches, and certainly the press.  While Shaffer admitted that Manogue was a great team and that Truckee was not on the same level, he also had some choice words for Sellers and his Staff, “I lost a lot of respect for that staff over there. If Sellers wanted to embarrass us, well, I guess he accomplished that.  But he also embarrassed his staff too.  Even at the end of the game they put their first string back in to try to stop us from scoring.  I don’t know what they were thinking.”  It turns out that Truckee would score anyways making their staff look more ridiculous.  It takes a lot to get Shaffer that fired up.  Knowing coach Shaffer, he had respect for coach Sellers and all that he had accomplished as a coach and basically Sellers threw that in Shaffer’s face.  Shaffer always respected teams that he faced.  He never tried to run up the score.  I’ve seen Shaffer take a knee on the 1 yard line many times in order not to score.  He never wanted to disrespect another coach, so you can imagine when Manogue was working on rubbing things in our face, because “God loves them More”, it did not sit well with Shaffer.  Ultimately it is up to us to prevent complete Manogue domination but we were not able to do so.  It’s not up to Manogue’s coaching staff to keep the game close, it’s up to Truckee.  However, every decision you make as a leader, you have to be ready for the scrutiny and the judgement of those decisions.  In this case Sellers could have used more tact from one Legendary coach to another, but that would have taken some humility on his part…And that’s how the last game vs Manogue played out for the Wolverines.  I’m guessing Shaffer and Sellers eventually worked things out.  Things get emotional and it’s understandable.


The most memorable thing about this game took place before the game started.  The Tahoe area received quite a bit of snow the night before.  The Lakers field had a good 2-3 foot snowbanks around the perimeter of the field.  It was a sight to see and made the game a bit more entertaining.  Truckee got out to the early lead after Smith scored the game’s first touchdown.  Smith ran for 141 yards in this game.  Also, Tierney threw for 158 yards.  North Tahoe struggled to get anything going consistently on offense and could not stop Truckee’s run game.  Truckee had the lead 19-3 at halftime and decided to come out in the 2nd half and run a no huddle offense.  This caught the Lakers off guard and they struggled to make substitutions.  Because the Lakers were only playing with around 18 players it wore them down pretty quick.  Truckee ran up the score to 33 pretty fast and then called off the dogs.  The Lakers got a couple of late scores to make the final score 33-17.  Truckee would win their 17th straight game over the Lakers.  Truckee would now be 8-1 and take second place which would mean they host Dayton in the playoffs the following week.  This is a good time to include that Truckee’s JV team went 9-0 and won the League Championship.  I believe this Coach Dow’s last season as the JV head coach.


Paul Tierney using his legs vs Dayton

Dayton comes into Truckee for the first round of the playoffs.  This was not the same team that Truckee beat early in the year 42-7.  The Dust Devils came in riding a 30-0 win over Lowry.  They were confident and dangerous.  The biggest difference was they moved their freshman QB, Travis Wood, up to Varsity and he was the real deal.  The Wood brothers were all pretty good football players at Dayton but Travis Wood was the best of them.  He made Dayton a legit contender for the 4 years he was there.  The playoff game in 2003 was the first time Truckee got to face him and he was an equalizer.  It didn’t help that both Dan Ballou and Jamie Maehler were out due to injuries.  Truckee was also dealing with the flu which ran through the team in the most inconvenient time possible.  Truckee got on the board first with a Nick Smith 1 yard touchdown.  Dayton answered the next drive when the freshman, Travis Wood, connected with a Dayton receiver to make the score 7-6 Dust Devils.  The two teams would trade punts back and forth until Dayton had a bad punt snap.  Their punter was tackled at the Truckee 23 yard line setting up Truckee’s next score.  After a couple carries it was Smith again who scored the touchdown.  Hackley ran in the two point conversion to make the score 14-7.  Again, Dayton was quick to answer when Wood hit Morris for their second TD connection of the day.  The score was tied 14-14.  After trading punts again disaster struck for Truckee when Tierney threw an interception that gave Dayton good field position.  Dayton was driving and it looked like they were going in for a score but Randon Nunez stepped up to make an interception and stop their drive.  Truckee could not get the ball moving and were forced to punt again.  The Dust Devil drove down into field goal range but missed a 23 yarder.  The first half came to a close when Murphy attempted a 50 yard field goal but missed.  The score was tied 14-14 at halftime.  Truckee got the ball first in the second half but again had to punt, but so did the Dust Devils on their first drive.  Finally on Truckee’s next drive they got things going and Nick Smith scored his 3rd touchdown of the game going in from 5 yards out.  In the 4th quarter Smith would add his 4th touchdown of the game making the score 27-14.  The last points for Truckee came on a 37 yard field goal from JR Murphy.  Dayton scored late and missed the two point conversion.  Truckee would win 30-20 and advance to play Virgin Valley in Virgin Valley for the second year in a row.  Tierney threw for 214 yards but no TD’s. This was Nick Smith’s day as he ran for 109 yards and 4 TD’s to advance Truckee to the SemiFinals.  Also, Dayton proved their program is on the rise making things interesting heading into 2004.


The worst case scenario hits the Wolverines.  Wednesday before they would travel south Truckee had 26 players out with the flu.  On the Thursday the number was 22.  It was really hard to practice effectively with that many players out.  Especially because we were a platoon team.  It was near impossible to use players from the other side of the ball because none of the players had learned both sides of the ball.  We had several days in a row with basically no practice.  I remember being pretty discouraged as we loaded up the bus Friday knowing we were facing a very good team in Virgin Valley and having virtually no practice heading into the game. They had a lot of their players returning from the year before and it would be a much different task to beat them at their place in 2003.  Most of our players did make the trip but I remember the sound of the players stepping on the bus was pretty rough. Lucky for me I was in the extra car with Fertitta, Dow, and coach Collins.  It’s a long drive to Virgin Valley.  We left early and Shaffer setup a practice at Moapa Valley High school which was needed.  It was really our only effective practice all week and it helped settle the nerves a little.  I could tell the players were feeling better after the practice.  I’ll never forget Moapa players cheering for us as we were practicing letting us know in their “words” who’s side they were on.  Virgin Valley and Moapa have a pretty intense rivalry.  We gave Virgin everything we had but we fell short.  Right before halftime Truckee put together a nice drive that tied the game up at 14-14.  It gave us a lot of juice and we were in the game!  With just 32 seconds left in the first half, we kicked off to Virgin Valley, and they ran it back for a touchdown.  It was devastating for our team and we could not recover from it.  We lost 28-21.  Tierney had another huge game passing for 289 yards and 3 TD passes.  Maehler was back from injury and had 196 receiving yards.  Unfortunately the Wolverines season came to and end in Virgin Valley.  Maybe it was just as well.  Virgin Valley was able to give Manogue somewhat of a game in the State Championship but would lose 42-24.  So, the 2003 season ended with Back to Back Championships for Manogue, as they were heading to the 4A.

Wolverines 2003 ALL-League

1st Team LB- Jimmy Williams

1st Team Kicker, Punter, and DB- JR Murphy

1st Team WR- Jaime Maehler

2nd Team D-Line- Bruce Knez

2nd Team QB- Paul tierney

2nd Team RB- Nick Smith

2nd Team TE- Shane Wright

2nd Team O-Line- Logan Hunt

2nd Team O-line- Cory Arth

2003 Recap

Ultimately this team was young and not quite ready to make a run at a Championship.  This team had a lot of talent and they were close.  In the end there was just not enough senior leadership to pull this group through.  You include that Manogue was a different kind of monster at this point and the 2003 team wasn’t ready for it.  Unintentionally the 2003 season became a stepping stone on what was to come in the next two seasons.  We learned a lot as a team and as a staff with the platooning system and it would go much smoother heading into 2004.  The 2003 team had talent, it had the best duo in Truckee history, they played ok defense, but they lacked experience and a killer instinct.  Ultimately, they competed in every game but the Manogue matchup and proved that Truckee is not far off.  Also, making it into the State Semi’s is nothing to scoff at.  This team was a touchdown away from making it back to a State Championship for the third straight season.  They went 9-2 and only lost to the two teams that played in the Championship game.  They won a league Title as well.  Nick Smith put together a huge season and is amongst the best RB’s when it come to scoring.  He scored 17 TD’s in 2003 and I believe 25 TD’s in his career.  JR Murphy finished out a great career with a dominating senior year in all 3 phases of the game.  The 2004 team was highly motivated heading into the offseason.  With the JV team, who had just gone undefeated, and the group we had coming back, the expectations were set…Championship or bust!

TOP LEFT: Riley Allanson, Ben Tonon, Tony Brown, Kendal Burton, Kevin Embertson, Kyle Steverman, Jaime Maehler, Scott Bosco, Chris Miller, Tommy Kokenge, Enrique Sanchez 2ND ROW FROM TOP: E. Lopez, Joe Casella, Alfredo Oropeza, Jon Riley, Sage Coulter, Gordon Neelands, John Hooper, Omar Serna, Daniel Ballou, Randon Nunez 3RD ROW FROM TOP: Jimmy Williams, Paul Tierney, Mark Ochoa, Coach Fertitta, Coach Ivens, Coach Shaffer, Coach Collins, Coach Smart, Cameron Lewis, Logan Hunt, Micah Carbajal 4TH ROW FROM TOP: Shane Fuller, Chris hobart, Scott Rice, Devin Peterson, Nathan Wrenn, Robert Jones, Nick Costa, Denver Schaffarzick, Brandon Peterson, Jorge Vazquez, Ian Casey, Tony Krasensky FRONT ROW: Daniel Cramer, Morgan Harvey, Nick Cabral, Matt Klesken, Joe Lipnosky, Cory Raber, Kellen Lewis, Mike Lopez

2004:10-1(5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions

FRONT ROW: Shane Fuller, Sam Silver, Kevin Sahlberg, Paris Tenorio, Cole Hodges, Sean Wilson, Chad Baker, Tony Krasensky ROW 2: Nik Krasensky, Morgan Harvey, Mike Lopez, Kyler Coxson, Tim Curtis, JD Wright, Morgan Walters, Alex Rae, Kellen Lewis, Drew Stewart ROW 3: Daniel Cramer, Cory Raber, Jorge Vazquez, Coach Ivens, Coach Fertitta, Coach Shaffer, Coach Smart, Coach Wilson, Justin McGowen, Kyle Sundale, Matt Klesken ROW 4: Brendan Driscoll, Brandon Peterson, Robert Jones, Forrest Krull, Riley Allanson, Izzy Serna, Devin Shurtleff, Scott Decker, Devin Peterson, Brian Cordell BACK ROW: Mark Ochoa, Alfredo Oropeza, Tony Brown, Tommy Nichols, Mike Johnson, Kyle Steverman, ?, Cory Hoen, Ben Tonon, John Hooper, Sage Coulter

2005: 9-2 (5-1 League) Northern Division & AAA Back to Back Nevada State Champions 

FRONT ROW: Aldo Xochihua, R. Martinez, Kirk Haynes, Garret Carvolth, Nick Krasensky, Alex Rae, Ryan Macken, Kyler Coxson, Cole Hodges, Same Silver, Paris Tenorio, Pablo Esquivel, Sean Wilson . ROW 2: Tucker Ballister, John DePew, Nick Meyers, Cruz Esquivel, Kevin Sahlberg, Marshall Harvey, BJ Carter, A. Rogers, Drew Stewart, Andrew Mazzini, Trevor Allen, Tucker Nevin ROW 3: JD Wright, Tommy Nichols, Evan Hyland, Coach DeCoite, Coach Collins, Coach Fertitta, Coach Shaffer, Coach Dow, Coach Ivens, Coach Smart, Nick Tennant, Brendan Driscoll, Brian Cordell BACK ROW: S. Collins, E. Scholz, Devin Shurtleff, Forrest Krull, Arek O’Connell, Cory Hoen, Izzy Serna, Kevin Wood, Kyle Sundale, Tim Curtis

2006: 4-6 (2-3 League) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Round 1

FRONT ROW: Chris Ahsoak, Urial Malo, ?, Ryan Cook ROW 2: Justin Vosburgh, ?, Coach Fertitta, Coach Ivens, Coach Shaffer, Coach Dow, Coach Smart, Tucker Nevin, Tucker Ballister ROW 3: Kevin Decker, Kevin Sahlberg, Travis Dwyer, CJ Ackerman, Paris Tenorio, ?, ?, Pablo Esquivel, Trevor Allen ROW 4: Anthony Smith, Nick Meyer, Robert Raber, John DePew, Evan Hyland, Dylan Crosby, Brian Sipe, Cruz Esquivel TOP ROW: JD Wright, Ryan Macken, Josh Johnson, Flynn Rice, Nick Tennant, Mike Fagan, ?, Bob Waters, Ryan Roberts

2007: 8-2 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Round 1

FRONT ROW: Kyle Mullen, Urial Malo, Orlando Serna, Vance Brown, Jordan Deiro, Alex Corral, Kevin Kelly, Travis Dwyer, Justin Vosburgh, Ryan Cook Row 2: Jackson Weed, Anthony Smith, Kevin Decker, Luis Aguilar, Ryan Zusy, CJ Ackerman, Robert Raber, G. Ramirez, Vince Shaffer ROW 3: Dylan Crosby, Ryan Macken, Ryan Roberts, Alec Sahlberg, Marshall Lipke, Bob Waters, Tanner Keese, Chris Gallager TOP ROW: Cory Sharp, Flynn Rice, Coach Fertitta, Coach Ivens, Coach Shaffer, Coach Dow, Coach Ferree, Mike Fagan, Josh Johnson

2008: 9-3(5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Runner-Up

FRONT ROW: Jackson Weed, Kyle Mullen, Alex Engler, Chris Martinez, Cory Ackerman, Tony Rodriguez, Cole Roberts, Morgan Nevin ROW 2: Vance Brown, Wulff-Morrison, Vince Shaffer, Andreas Frutos, Alex Corral, Jordan Deiro, Mitch Nelson, Sam Allen, Nate Tanner, Orlando Serna ROW 3: Victor Montano, Matt Mehan, Coach Ferree, Coach Fertitta, Coach Ivens, Coach Shaffer, Coach Dow, Coach Wilson, Coach Doughty, Luis Aguilar, Dustin Vance ROW 4: Dalton Stevens, Ryan Zusy, Craig Brown, Chris Gerhardt, Trevor Houghton, Shane Fisher, Collin Christian, Ethan Manseau TOP ROW: Sam Duner, Alec Sahlberg, Marshall Lipke, Ben Bolton, Ezekiel Soto, James DePew, Dillon Sheedy, Marc Gasbarri, Tanner Keese

2009: 12-0 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions