A group of 8- and 9-year-olds pulled down on their red facemasks and snapped on their accompanying chin straps to secure their white helmets that then glistened under Golden Eagle Park’s lights.
The boys kicked footballs, threw passes, ran between guards and tackles as part of an American tradition that even generated a full-length film and TV series dubbed “Friday Night Lights.”
For the first time in almost all of their lives they geared up in their red and white football jerseys and represented Truckee under the lights.
The Truckee Mitey-Mite Whites tackled the Sparks Steelers last Friday night but came up short and lost 18-7.
After the game at the Sparks field, head coach Jake Moule told his team he thought his group was the better of the two on the field. Although the score showed different, he made a valid case for his team when it came to yardage.
The Wolverines’ offense ran and passed for a total of 78 yards over the artificial grass field. The Steelers amassed 161 yards but 115 of those yards came on two scoring plays.
The Steelers faced third down and 13 yards to go for a first down on their first possession of the game when blown coverage left their receiver wide open for a lobbed pass to the left side.
The receiver pulled it down and scampered 45 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
The Steelers’ other chunk of yards came on a 70-yard touchdown run that swept around the right side. The play was the first offensive play for Sparks after Truckee scored their sole touchdown in the second quarter with less than a minute to go in the half.
Sparks scored its other touchdown on a 33-yard punt return in the first quarter.
The Truckee offense hammered the ball up the middle for most of its 51 yards on the ground, but it was a 17-yard pass play on first down that started the six-play drive that culminated in Truckee’s 1-yard touchdown run by running back Carson Jensen.
Jensen was also the recipient of quarterback Tavin Hamilton’s first-down pass that went for 17 yards in that scoring drive.
Jensen led the Wolverines in rushing, receiving and tackles. Jensen banged up the middle for 31 yards on eight carries. He pulled down two short passes and turned them into a total of 25 yards. Ten tackles made him Truckee’s best tackler of the evening. More impressively, six of those ten tackles were made behind the line of scrimmage.
The Steelers’ defense did well to contain the outside, but running back Jackson Kahl scrapped for 13 yards on six carries. He also caught a screen pass and turned it up field for a short gain of two yards.
Hamilton was the only other ball carrier with positive yardage. He gained nine yards on four carries. He gained five yards on a keeper up the middle that left him just a yard short of the end zone. Another two yards came on another keeper up the middle for the point after touchdown.
Hamilton completed three of his four pass attempts for a total of 27 yards. He also contributed seven tackles. Five of his tackles were solo with two of them serving as fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter to create turnovers on downs.
Linebacker Matthew Seline dropped nine Steelers ball carriers. His best play of the night was a fumble recovery in the third quarter that thwarted the Sparks scoring threat at Truckee’s 24-yard line.
Linebacker Caige Maran disrupted the Steelers’ offense all night and led the team with four sacks. He also had four other tackles and one of those was behind the line of scrimmage.
Linebackers Jacob Moule and Brian Baker turned in five-tackle performances. Defensive end Peter Reoutt also dropped five Steelers and knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand on his sack in the fourth quarter. The fumble was recovered by the Steelers but pushed them back and forced a turnover on downs three plays later.
Linebacker Hunter Hansell got in on four tackles. Cornerback Jesse Espinoza did the same and almost picked off a pass on a point after touchdown play that failed.
Both defensive tackles, Quinn Krommenhoek and Sam Marr, had big nights with two sacks apiece. Krommenhoek’s sacks were both in the fourth quarter and he was in on another tackle to make his total three.
In special teams play, Kahl was part of a seven-man tackle for his sole tackle of the game. He also led the Wolverines with a 30-yard kick return.
Next up, the Wolverines are making plans to even their record at 2-2 against the Carson Senators at Truckee’s River View Sports Park upper field Saturday at 2 p.m.