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, Spring Creek, 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 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
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.
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 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.
GAME 2: TRUCKEE 44 AT MANOGUE 7
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.
GAME 3: TRUCKEE 15 SPRING CREEK 20
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
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.
GAME 4: TRUCKEE 38 DAYTON 6
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.
GAME 5: TRUCKEE 42 FERNLEY 12
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.
GAME 6: TRUCKEE 42 YERINGTON 6
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
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.
GAME 7: TRUCKEE 38 ROP 12
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.
GAME 8: TRUCKEE 35 LOWRY 6
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
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
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.
GAME 9: TRUCKEE 25 NORTH TAHOE 14
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.
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.
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.
GAME 10: ROUND 1 SEMI-FINALS: TRUCKEE 6 SPRING CREEK 14
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.
SIDE STORY: GARY COOK
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.
1st TEAM ALL-STATE
Eric Detwiler- Defensive MVP
Kellen Babb- DB
David Larson- DB
Robert Acevedo- DT
Kicker- Gary Cook
2nd TEAM ALL-STATE
Evan Birchard- RB
James Curtis- OL
Gary Cook- Punter
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!!!
2001: 9-2 (7-1 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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 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
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.
WEEK 1 TRUCKEE 14 VS LAS PLUMAS 20
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.
WEEK 2 TRUCKEE 21 MANOGUE 9
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.
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!
WEEK 3 TRUCKEE 34 SPRING CREEK 24
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.
WEEK 4 (HOMECOMING) TRUCKEE 40 DAYTON 3
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.
WEEK 5 TRUCKEE 36 FERNLEY 38
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!
WEEK 6 TRUCKEE 44 YERINGTON 0
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.
WEEK 7 TRUCKEE ? ROP ?
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.
WEEK 8 TRUCKEE 26 LOWRY 6
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.
WEEK 9 TRUCKEE 21 NORTH TAHOE 6
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.
WEEK 10 SEMIFINALS TRUCKEE 28 SPRING CREEK 14
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.
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.
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!”
WEEK 11 THE NEVADA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: TRUCKEE 14 MOAPA 7
Before we get into the breakdown of the 2001 State Championship I’d like to take the time to introduce abd 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.
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.
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.
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.
THE DRIVE TO TAKE STATE
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.
1st TEAM ALL-LEAGUE
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
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!!!
2002: 8-3 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Runner-Up
2003: 9-2 (5-0 League) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Semi-Final
2004:10-1(5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions
2005: 9-2 (5-1 League) Northern Division & AAA Back to Back Nevada State Champions
2006: 4-6 (2-3 League) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Round 1
2007: 8-2 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Playoff Round 1
2008: 9-3(5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Runner-Up
2009: 12-0 (5-0 League Champs) Northern Division & AAA Nevada State Champions