Inherent in the project of building a program is improving on the previous season’s success. Once that is achieved, it is about maintaining that level each year.
But what happens when that level is an undefeated season capped by a state championship? For the third straight season.
That is the predicament facing Truckee this season, and for the Wolverines there is only one answer.
“We want to go undefeated again and win the championship again,” senior captain Graham Christian said.
It is a simple answer but not as simply accomplished, despite how easy Truckee sometimes made it look in winning their last 36 games.
“Sometimes, people think just because you put on that silver helmet you’re going to win, that you can just put it on the scoreboard,” Wolverines coach Bob Shaffer said. “It’s not that easy.
“Last year’s unblemished season was a little unexpected. That’s something you never know until Game 12. If you make it that far and you’re undefeated, then it’s a blessing. To do it three times in a row is a feat that’s sometimes hard to even fathom or imagine. There are so many things that can happen during the course of a year, or even the course of a game. Sometimes, you have lady luck shining down on you.”
The streak, which ranks as the sixth-longest active run in the country among 11-man teams, somewhat consumes the town.
“That definitely is a big thought every day. It’s hard to escape,” Christian said. “It’s nice to have that pressure to keep us going and keep us working hard. Everyone in town is talking about it.” I get asked about it all the time around school and town. It’s tough to get away from it. It adds pressure, too, to keep it going and not be that team that loses the first game.”
Christian and his fellow seniors will look to keep two streaks going this year. The Truckee class of 2013 has never lost a game in their high school careers. Not as freshmen; not on the junior varsity team; definitely not last year.
“I expect a four-peat and to go undefeated,” said Tyler Curtis, who rushed for 732 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
Jake Pettit also returns to the Wolverines’ backfield after he ran for 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Twin brother Zach Pettit will anchor the defensive line in front of Christian at linebacker and Eric Holmer at safety. They were the Wolverines’ top three tacklers a year ago. But all three, as well as others, will be asked to play both ways this year.
“The seniors can’t do it by themselves, so we’re going to need some help from the juniors,” Zach Pettit said. “I think we have a good chance to do something great.”
So does Shaffer.
“We have confidence that we have guys who can and will rise and do the best they can do. If that’s not enough to win all the games, then that’s how it is,” he said. “We’re just getting ready for Game 1 and if we happen to win that, then we’ll move on to the next game, and so on.
“All streaks come to an end at some point in time. When is ours is going to come to end? I don’t know. Hopefully, not for another few years.”