South Tahoe faces Truckee in 1st round of playoffs
About 2 feet.
That distance was the difference last week between winning and losing for the South Tahoe Vikings football team.
On the second to last play of the game, Vikings quarterback Peyton Galli rolled to his left and lofted about a 30-yard pass that Tyler Wattanachinda hauled in but was just beyond the back line of the end zone.
Truckee kept the Sierra Bowl trophy and earned a home playoff game, both of which the Vikings coveted, by rallying from a 15-point deficit to win 32-27.
“It’s heartbreaking but it’s also frustrating to know that we could have done something so we weren’t in that situation in the first place,” said Vikings senior co-captain Mccallan Castles, who caught 10 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. “So this week we’re working and conditioning even harder. Everybody needs to be ready to go in.”
Similar to last season, the Vikings get another shot at their rival, this time with the season on the line. Last year, the Vikings lost 21-20 in the regular season only to end the Wolverines’ season two weeks later in the second round of the playoffs.
Just seven days after suffering heartbreak to end the 2017 regular season, the Vikings will be back on the same grassy field at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, in Truckee trying to avenge that loss in the first round of Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 3A Northern Region playoffs. The winner will go on the road Thursday to play league champ Fernley.
“I think the kids looked in the mirror and saw a lot of the outcome was in our hands,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin. “We let a good team off the hook. The painful lesson was the agony of defeat. We don’t need to have a short-term memory, but the loss is definitely being used as motivation for this Saturday. They’ve been focused and practicing well.”
Playing a team in back-to-back weeks is not something Franklin or his Vikings have experienced. Franklin liked the Vikings’ game plan last week, but has adopted new ideas for Saturday that they are excited about. Franklin says it’s like a chess match and he loves the challenge of maneuvering his pieces (players) and says the kids now can put a face with names and numbers.
“The kids know who they are now,” Franklin said. “We put the names on a roster, we have faces now to go with them and I think that’s cool for a kid. They know who they’re going against and what they are about.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Castles said. “We showed them in the first quarter last game that we can stop them. I know their game plan will change this week but so is ours. It’s going to be another tough game. They’re a strong, hard-working team. It was a good game last week, but we didn’t have the heart to finish it. This week we are taking it even more seriously now that it’s for real and it could be our last game.”
The teams were pretty much equal on paper with Truckee (7-2 3A Northern) out-gaining the Vikings 374-345 yards. South Tahoe (5-4 3A Northern League) gave up a few big plays and had trouble containing Wolverines’ quarterback Marcus Bellon.
But the Vikings countered with a monster game from Castles and a strong effort from Galli who threw for 241 yards and two TDS while also rushing for 48 yards and another score.
“One sideline or the other was cheering,” Castles said. “At the end of the game you couldn’t even hear the snap count you just had to watch the ball. It was crazy down there, a great atmosphere.”
While last week’s game was played in bright sunshine and perfect fall conditions, the Weather.com forecast for Saturday is quite the opposite. At kickoff, it will be 35 degrees with a 90 percent chance of precipitation. There were a bunch of snowflakes on the forecast for the 10 hours leading up to kickoff.
The Vikings last year played against Elko in a downpour and are preparing for the worst.
“I’ve never seen so much rain,” Franklin said about last year’s game against Elko. “We’ve had cold games and rainy games. We’re not anticipating snow but from what I’ve heard that would be better because it’s drier. We’ll prepare for the worst with wet ball stuff and if it’s snowing … that’ll just make it look cool.”