Vikings host rival Truckee in Sierra Bowl
South Tahoe (2-7) vs. Truckee (3-5)
Friday 7 p.m. at Viking Stadium
The South Tahoe football team has been preparing for two opponents in advance of Friday’s regular season finale — Truckee and inclement weather.
The Vikings renew their rivalry with the Wolverines Friday night at Viking Stadium, with weather forecasts calling for both rain and snow.
“It’s huge — the biggest game we have all year is Truckee,” Vikings quarterback Mason Cain said.
South Tahoe beat Sparks on the road last week for its second win of the season, a game that was the first step to ending its 2014 campaign on a winning note.
The Vikings haven’t beaten Truckee since the teams began playing in the same league four years ago, and see Friday night as a great opportunity to take down their rivals.
“We haven’t beaten Truckee and we really want this win — our year hasn’t gone the way we wanted it, but we want to end this year right,” Vikings lineman Michael Herring said. “We’ve been preparing accordingly.”
After starting 1-4, Truckee has won three of its last four games — the Wolverines have beaten Sparks, Spring Creek and Wooster during that stretch.
In a consistent rain last week, Truckee shutout a Wooster team that scored 34 points when it met South Tahoe — it’s clear they are comfortable playing in wet conditions.
“Some of us have played in this weather before and we’ve been executing our plays good enough that the weather is not going to be a factor,” Herring said. “We’re ready for Truckee.”
The Vikings bring the league’s top passing attack into the Sierra Bowl, and won’t change their offensive approach to counter potentially wet and cold conditions. South Tahoe plans to embrace the cold, and held Wednesday’s practice under the lights with footballs dunked in water between plays to prepare for what the fall storm could offer.
“For us, mindset is really important — coming out Wednesday, playing through the cold and realizing it’s not that bad,” Hennessee said. “If it’s raining we got the wet ball and we’re good, and if it’s snowing that’s okay too.”
Fresh off topping the 2,000-yard plateau for the season, Cain will play Friday night with gloves on both hands — the gloves are fingerless and have dots used for grip. Cain has thrown for 241 yards per game and has 17 touchdowns on the season.
“Our line has progressively gotten better — they practice hard every day just pass blocking and that stepped up our game a lot,” Cain said.
While Cain will wear gloves Friday night, his receivers won’t. South Tahoe’s skill players came to the consensus that they will start the game against Truckee without them — whether they don gloves or not, the group that features the league’s second-leading receiver Kirby David will focus first on catching the ball.
“This isn’t about the (run after catch) yards — it’s about catching the ball,” Hennessee said.
Truckee’s defense features an even-man front, and the Wolverines will rush four players on most plays. No matter what the Wolverines show beyond the line of scrimmage, Hennessee said South Tahoe’s offense will be prepared.
“We’re trying to prepare for as many different looks as we can,” Hennessee said. “At this point in the season, we’ve seen every coverage you can imagine and every blitz you can think of — if we can just be patient and do what we’re capable of, I think we can have some success on offense.”
For South Tahoe defensively, the Vikings will be tasked with stopping a Truckee team that runs the ball on nearly two-thirds of its plays. The Wolverines have a three-headed rushing attack of Gabe Deiro (474 yards, three touchdowns), Wulfe Retzlaff (460, three) and Tanner Sawyer (451 yards, nine).
Sawyer and Retzlaff each topped the 100-yard mark and scored twice for Truckee in last week’s win over Wooster. In the win against the Colts, the Wolverines ran 50 times for 337 yards — and attempted only two passes.
“They love to run the football and play physical football,” Herring said. “We’ve created some blitzes that are going to stop that.”
At nose tackle, South Tahoe will rotate Herring and Keelin McBride after filling the position with multiple players last week. At all three levels, the Vikings will look to play fast and physical.
“We’re at our best when we’re whacking people,” Hennessee said. “When we’re hitting people, we’re flying around — that’s why we’ve been better.”
South Tahoe hosts Truckee Friday night with a chance to beat its rival and end the season on a high note. The Vikings believe they can beat the Wolverines — and the bad weather — to get the result they want.
“We just need to finish — if we keep battling until the end we’ll have a great night,” Herring said.