The bigger the moment, the better Erik Holmer and Adam Morgan performed.
The Truckee senior athletes are clutch to the core – gamers who poured their heart and soul into their respective sports. And excelled as a result.
For those athletic qualities and so many more, they are the Sierra Sun’s co-Male Athletes of the Year from Truckee High School.
“Those are two good selections I think,” said longtime Truckee football coach Bob Shaffer, who recently announced his retirement after leading the Wolverines to a fourth consecutive state championship.
Both Holmer and Morgan proved instrumental to the Wolverines’ latest state title run. Holmer played a key role in the last two, as he came up with a couple of the biggest catches of the season as a junior, while he heated up at the quarterback position to lead Truckee on an impressive late surge as a senior – after recovering from an early-season thumb injury on his throwing hand.
“I think having Erik on a team is probably every coach’s dream, because not only is he a player, he’s a student of the game,” Shaffer said. “He’s always striving to not only make himself better, but to help make his teammates better too. He elevated the play of our team the last five or six games of the year after we lost to Fernley.
“At that point I think he was determined to play through and conquer the injury aspect, and we rode him all the way to the state championship, that’s for sure.”
Shaffer said Holmer’s all-around athleticism was perhaps his most valuable trait. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete could do just about anything on the gridiron. He played a mean linebacker both his junior and senior year, caught big passes as a junior and led the Wolverines as a proficient running and throwing quarterback as a senior.
“We could play him just about anywhere on the field. Despite the fact that he was a very strong defensive player for us, his multi-dimensional ability on offense as a runner or a thrower I think was most valuable,” Shaffer said. “That’s what really allowed us to grow our offense the last few weeks. We challenged him more and more, and he gave more.
“He comes through in big games, that’s for sure. He’s a big-time player.”
Holmer will play football in the fall as a preferred walk-on at UC Davis.
Morgan also came on strong the second half of his senior season – after playing only one year of high school football prior, during his sophomore year.
After sitting out football as a junior to focus on basketball, Morgan came out late as a senior, and was initially told he was too late. But after some prodding by Morgan, Shaffer and staff allowed the rangy, 6-4 senior to join the team, with the stipulation that he could not play the first few weeks.
Morgan agreed, performing scout-team duties before slowly working his way into the lineup as a receiver and defensive back. By late season, Morgan had developed into a major contributor, picking off passes and snagging touchdowns out of the air in crucial situations. He finished the season with a team-high four interceptions, and 254 yards receiving on 13 catches, with three touchdowns.
“He continued to develop into both our offensive and defensive systems. He became a go-to guy in big situations,” Shaffer said. “A couple of those games he made some critical catches, and he also came up with some key, important interceptions.”
Aside from his sheer athleticism, Shaffer credited Morgan’s hard work and dedication to improving. It’s what made him a standout athlete in three different sports, he said – also basketball and track.
“I think you have to understand Adam’s work ethic. He’s always been competitive. That’s why I always wanted him,” Shaffer said, adding that he had his eyes on Morgan back when he was in the eighth grade. “He worked real hard in the offseason in the weight room to build up his body. He understood that to be successful he had to put on some muscle weight, and he did that all four years here at the high school.”
After winning state in football, Holmer took off the winter season. He had previously played basketball his freshman through junior year, and played it well.
Morgan tore it up his senior basketball season, earning first team All-League honors while leading the Wolverines as a banging post player who could also slash the net from outside. His Wolverines lost in the opening round of the postseason, but not for a lack of effort on Morgan’s part.
By spring, Holmer was fresh and ready to play ball as the No. 1 starting pitcher on the defending state champion Truckee baseball team. He enjoyed a fine senior season, finishing with a 6-3 record with a 3.56 ERA.
“Erik was awesome. He’s just fun to be around. He’s a solid guy and a great competitor,” said Truckee baseball coach Mike Ellis. “He’s a horse. He’s strong as an ox. He did a great job this year with the bat and pitching.”
Holmer was particularly good in the clutch. With runners in scoring position, he was lights out, driving in 30 runs on 26 hits. He hit .310 on the year.
“He clutched up and got some huge hits for us in clutch situations. It seemed like he came up big with the bat every time we needed him, big time,” Ellis said.
Holmer was voted to the All-League first team as the Wolverines played into the state championship tournament before being eliminated.
Morgan took to the track as a first-year participant. It didn’t take long for him to capture the eye of Truckee coach Diana Yale.
“As a first-year guy, I expected him to do very well because from the start of the season, I knew he had ambition, drive and determination to win,” Yale said. “I saw it in his eyes and in his face before races and in conversations we had. I knew he’d be a competitor and be successful.”
He was. Morgan’s speed was evident from the start as he helped anchor a young and talented Truckee squad in the sprint events. He went on to finish third in the state championship meet in the 400-meter dash, posting a personal-best time of 50.44 seconds.
Morgan also was a key part of three relay teams that earned state championship medals.
“As a teammate, he stepped up to be a part of three relays, giving up one of his individual events,” Yale said. “He really liked being on the relays and part of those teams. He was a leader in those relays, but mostly to his own peer group, and somewhat to a few of the younger sprinters. The younger athletes all looked up to him and knew he was fast and admired him for that.”
He was named Most Outstanding Athlete by the Truckee track team.
“I just wish we could’ve had him for all four years,” Yale said.