SPRING CREEK – Coming off its first loss of the season in Division 3A North play, the Spring Creek football team finds itself in another tough game.
The Spartans (5-1) fell 32-22 to undefeated Fernley (6-0) on Friday night in Spring Creek.
Awaiting the Spartans on Saturday afternoon is another tiebreaker contest in Truckee, which is also 5-1 in the 3A North.
The Wolverines’ only loss in league play came on Sept. 8 in Fallon, falling to the Greenwave 42-22.
Since the defeat, Truckee has won four straight ballgames, winning each in convincing fashion.
The Wolverines defeated Lowry 39-8, ripped to a 57-0 victory against Dayton, dominated the second half in a 26-7 win in Elko and shredded off a 50-7 win last week in Sparks.
Some of the main reasons Truckee is a difficult matchup are the Wolverines’ size at the skill positions, the overall speed of the team and the number of players they have who contribute.
The combination of the afore mentioned factors equals balance.
Truckee has rushed for 1,952 yards as a team, but the leader of pack is senior Jamie Parisi with 349 yards, scoring twice on 29 carries.
Junior Marcus Trotter is tied for the team high with four rushing scores and has 335 yards on the ground from 48 attempts.
Junior Jackson Skaff has tallied four scores with his legs, rushing for 211 yards on just 21 carries.
The Wolverines have eight players who have rushed for 152 yards or more, six players rushing for 211 yards or more.
On Friday, Fernley racked up 288 yards rushing on 49 carries (5.9 yards per attempt) on the Spartans, moving the sticks several times on third down.
Spring Creek actually had a higher average than the Vaqueros (6.2 yards per attempt) – led by senior Jason Painter’s 21 carries for 166 yards and two TDs – but the Spartans had 19 fewer rushes.
Most of Spring Creek’s offensive success and all of the Spartans’ points came in the first half.
In the second half, the Spartans’ offense could not stay on the field and Spring Creek’s defense could not keep the Fernley offense off the gridiron.
“There were a few plays last week that we did not have the best game plan defensively,” said Spring Creek coach Mike Tournahu. “Truckee likes to the run ball and we have struggled in that area against teams who run the ball well and run right at us.”
Through the air, Truckee junior quarterback Marcus Bellon has thrown for 1,134 yards and 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions, completing 61 percent of his passes.
Speaking of balance, Parisi also leads the team with 349 receiving yards on 17 catches – matching his rushing output – catching a team-high eight touchdowns.
For every two balls he catches, one winds up in the end zone.
Senior running back Cole Eichele and senior wideout Michael Doughty have snagged four touchdown catches apiece.
“Our defense will be without our leading tackler. Tre Edson has an ankle injury. That hurt us in the second half last week, but we have to overcome that this week,” Tournahu said. “We have focused a lot on our defensive alignment in practice. Truckee uses a lot of formations, so we have to make sure we are in the right positions and be ready for Truckee’s play-action passes.”
Fernley quarterback Zach Burns was remarkably efficient against the Spartans, completing 10 of 12 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
“Burns threw the ball extremely well. I thought our best chance to shut Fernley down was to turn them into a passing team, but he stuck the ball in there right where it needed to be almost every throw,” Tournahu said.
Defensively, the Wolverines are ball hawks.
They fly to the football and force turnovers – making 10 interceptions and recovering seven fumbles – leading the 3A North with 17 takeaways.
Sophomore Tyler Estabrook has picked off four passes and blocked three punts, while Eichele has made three interceptions.
Parisi has forced a team-best three fumbles, senior Trevor Schroeder leading the team with two recoveries.
Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.
“We want to give their defensive front different looks,” Tournahu said.
The Spartans will have to combine their big-play ability with consistent marches down the field.
Senior wide receiver Dakota Larson caught seven balls for 153 yards and two touchdowns last week, but he found himself all alone behind the defense on several other occasions but was overthrown two or three times for surefire touchdowns if the balls would have been on-target.
The Spartans (5-1) will look hope to unlock a three-way tie in the league standings against the Wolverines (5-1) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Truckee.
Fallon is also 5-1 in the 3A North and will play on the road against the Spartans at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 in Spring Creek.