The Hail Mary pass spiraled over 15 yards and 30 outstretched fingertips before careening into the turf just a yard or two short of the goal line. The thud of the ball against the hard ground sounded the end of last Saturday's 34-0 loss to the Hug Hawks and the end of the 2012 campaign for the Truckee Wolverines in the Maverick Division of the Sierra Youth Football League.
The last-second pass was not intended for the victory. The intention was to end the season on a high note after struggling to maintain possession of the ball in their final game. The Wolverines finished with three turnovers, but put the ball on the ground several other times without losing it to the Hawks.
The 7- and 8-year-olds let the Hawks get an early 13-0 jump in the first quarter behind 88- and 55-yard touchdown runs. Truckee then stayed in the game through the second and third quarter by keeping the Hawks out of the end zone but let the game get away as they gave up the ball and 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The loss did include some high notes for the players to feel good about over the offseason. They rushed 16 times for 52 yards, which is the most in a single game in which the Wolverines lost. Every ball carrier finished with positive yardage, another first for any game that Truckee did not win.
The defensive highs included the best single-game total of six sacks, in which linebacker Hunter Hansell was a part of half. They had a single-game-high six passes defended by six different players. They also matched a previous-best two fumble recoveries, in which Hansell again owned half of that effort.
The loss also brought a close to the season that left the Wolverines one win shy of earning a playoff berth. Despite not seeing postseason play, the Wolverines can build off their two wins during the season. The Wolverines went 2-6 on the season, which represented two more wins than the four returning players saw last year in the younger Bandits Division. The team can also build off the fact that every one of their six losses came to a team that made the playoffs.
The offensive leaders in the loss were running back Jackson Kahl who had two big runs over 10 yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 25 yards on four carries. Running back Colton Conklin followed Kahl with 14 yards on five carries. Running back Hutton Johnson, coming off a 173-yard effort in the previous game, was kept in check and finished with 8 yards on six carries. Quarterback Tavin Hamilton completed the Wolverines rushing effort with his single carry on the day, a quarterback sneak behind center Luis Castaneda for 5 yards.
The defensive leaders for the game included the defensive play caller, defensive tackle Matthew Seline. He was the only Wolverine to finish with double-digit tackles. He tallied 10 tackles, including a sack and a pass defense 14 yards down field from the line of scrimmage.
Defensive ends Johnson and Jason Roth both followed Seline with nine tackles each. Both efforts were personal bests for the ends. Johnson led the team with two special teams tackles and Roth's total included a sack.
Linebackers Hansell and Conklin racked up seven tackles each. Hansell led the Wolverines with five tackles behind the line of scrimmage with three of those being sacks. Conklin dropped two Hawks behind the line.
Linebacker Kahl and defensive end Carsen Jensen brought down six Hawks. They also led the Wolverines with two solo tackles each. Their efforts were followed by cornerback Hamilton and linebacker Jacob Moule with four tackles each. Moule forced a fumble and recovered it on a point after touchdown. Hamilton's effort was a personal best.
Safety Sawyer Burley also turned in a personal-best effort with three tackles, including a solo tackle that kept a runner 6 yards short of the end zone after picking up 38 yards on the play. Cornerback Galdino Bravo-Karvonen matched Burley with three tackles and added a pass defended.
Nose tackle Castaneda and cornerback Ryland Morrison earned two tackles each. Both made one of their tackles behind the line.
Nose tackle Aidan Anderson chipped in a tackle and helped clog up the running plays up the middle on several other plays. Cornerback Alex Roberts contributed by defending a pass.
Next up for the Truckee Wolverines is the 2013 season in the Renegades Division.