TRUCKEE, Calif. — On paper, a struggling, winless Sparks at undefeated Truckee on Saturday seemed like a mismatch. And it was.
Six different Wolverines scored touchdowns as the hosts built a 28-0 first-quarter lead and led 42-0 at the half en route to a 56-0 drubbing.
The win marked No. 40 in a row for Truckee, a streak that ranks fourth in the nation in 11-man high school football. The Wolverines are now 4-0 on the season while the Railroaders fell to 0-5.
"It seemed like anything and everything we were calling early was working," said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer. "I credit the team, because they could have taken this game lightly. But the second half of the year we face some good teams, so we had to get better."
Behind the accurate passing of senior quarterback Erik Holmer, the Wolverines found the end zone on six of their seven possessions in the first half, needing four plays or fewer to score each touchdown. They scored on pass plays of 42 and 40 yards, both to senior tight end Zak Pettit, and runs of 48, 4, 27 and 29 yards, the final two by Graham Christian.
Holmer, playing with a mostly healed dislocated thumb on his throwing hand, completed 8 of his 10 passes in the first half for 155 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Junior backup Louden Smith was 2-for-2 in the game for 59 yards, including a 40-yard TD strike to Pettit in the first quarter.
"We kind of knew we wanted to work more on our passing game early, because we weren't sure how long we were going to be able to do that, and we needed to work on it. And I thought our offense was very efficient," said Shaffer, whose team ran a total of only 19 offensive plays in the first half, eight of which went for 20 yards or more.
In the second half, Truckee senior Javier Virrey scored on a 7-yard run late in the third quarter. Senior Jake Pettit, playing his first game of the season coming off a knee injury, intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter to round out the scoring. Smith converted his eighth PAT of the day to extend the score to the final margin.
Senior quarterback Geovanni Vasquez and the Railroaders came out throwing the ball often. But they had only marginal success against Truckee's defense, which has allowed just 21 points through four games. Vasquez threw 32 passes, completing 17 for 116 yards, but with three interceptions.
"They have a third-year starting quarterback, so we knew they would throw the ball, and we needed that," Shaffer said. "We needed to see a veteran quarterback."
Truckee held the Sparks running game to 34 yards on 34 carries in the contest, led by Nick Vandever's 30 yards on 14 touches, while the Railroaders managed just 13 rushing yards on 21 attempts in the first half.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, racked up 134 yards rushing on eight carries in the first half, and 241 yards on 20 rushes in the game. Holmer and Smith combined for 195 passing yards through the first two quarters and 214 in the contest, giving Truckee 455 total yards.
The onslaught started early. On Truckee's third offensive play of the game, Holmer connected with a wide open Zak Pettit over the middle, and the big tight end rumbled 42 yards uncontested for the first score.
After forcing a three-and-out immediately following, Holmer hooked up with Jake Pettit for a 15-yard gain before senior running back Tyler Curtis broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Truckee forced another Sparks punt on the ensuing possession, and two plays later, Smith hit Pettit, again wide open over the middle, for a 40-yard touchdown.
Christian stepped in front of a Vasquez pass on the Vaqueros' next drive for the first of Truckee's three interceptions, deep in Sparks territory. Senior wingback Tyler Griffin then ran around the left side of the line untouched for the fourth Truckee touchdown, and a 28-0 first-quarter lead after Smith's extra point.
That was just the first quarter. After forcing another punt, Curtis caught a Holmer screen pass for a 28-yard gain, which set up Christian for a 27-yard touchdown run up the gut.
Truckee's only blemish of the half came on its next possession, when Holmer fumbled to Sparks at midfield. But Smith intercepted a tipped ball shortly after, and four plays later Christian broke free again for a 29-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 42-0 with 1:44 left before the half.
"We wanted to focus on three Es — errorless, effort and execution — and I think we accomplished those at times,” Shaffer said.
Holmer, who hit seven different receivers in the first half, said he was excited not to feel pain in his thumb, which he dislocated in a preseason scrimmage.
"It was good to get my confidence going,” Holmer said of his performance. “My thumb feels better, so it was nice to get some complete passes."
With Truckee's second-string offense going to work in the second half, Virrey picked up 39 yards on a hard run and was rewarded with the next carry, which he took in to the end zone with another power run from 7 yards out. With 2:38 left in the third quarter, Truckee led 49-0.
The Wolverines added a final touchdown early in the fourth when Vasquez threw a pass over the middle that was picked off by Jake Pettit and returned 35 yards. The 6-3 running back received an assist from his twin brother, as Zak Pettit hit Vasquez as he released the ball.
After a time-consuming Railroader drive that petered out at midfield, Tyler Slusher rushed for 20 yards before being brought down at the Sparks 15-yard line as the clock expired.