Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Fernley football coach Chris Ward needed just two works to sum up the Vaqueros’ season-opening 34-17 loss at Truckee last Saturday night.
How well he summarizes the next nine games will depend a lot on how the Vaqueros can transition between those two words.
“Inexperience, and experience,” Ward said. “I think Truckee is a lot like we were last year, with a lot of juniors who are now seniors. And we’re filling in for a real good senior group. We’ve got good kids, we just don’t have the experience they do.”
Truckee quarterback Marcus Bellon threw two touchdown passes and Marcus Trotter had a 59-yard touchdown run to help Truckee avenge Fernley’s win in the Northern 3A playoffs last October.
The Vaqueros last year started 10 seniors on offense, and eight on defense, and this year had several starters on both sides of the ball playing in their first varsity game.
“And it’s a big jump from JV to varsity,” Ward said. “Some of the kids were even talking abut how it’s a whole different game. You can get away with things at the lower levels you can’t get away with here.”
That inexperience showed up offensively, where the Vaqueros were unable to get any push up front to open up the dive portion of their triple option attack. To counter, they tried to run some double option instead, but had difficulty picking up Truckee’s blitzes.
“We don’t feel bad about ourselves,” Ward said. “We did a lot of stuff that were not really us, but we feel good that we can get those things fixed and be a good team.”
Ward said the Vaqueros were better in the second half, after the coaches had a chance to show the players on iPads what they were doing wrong, and make adjustments.
The game was the first Saturday night game in Truckee history, and ward said it was a great atmosphere to play in.
“We had a lot of people from Fernley there, and they had a lot from Truckee,” he said. “And they came out in their new uniforms, all gray, and they looked pretty cool.”
Ward said the biggest positives from the game were that new quarterback Cooper Henderson proved he is a playmaker, and that Ethan Harris showed that he will be a good defensive end. He said Colt Lemon, Jaden Wilson and Setriano Piroddi also played well on defense, while Vincent Nguyen caught a touchdown pass from Henderson and A.J. Kuha and Lemon also made good catches.
“First game jitters, playing very good opponent, being pretty young and inexperienced, but we’ll be able to hang in there and we’ll be okay,” Ward said.
The Vaqueros will try to bounce back Friday when they host (San Francisco, Calif.) Sacred Heart Cathedral in a nonleague game. The teams met last year, a 35-26 win by the Fightin’ Irish.
Sacred Heart Cathedral run the Air Raid offense, but having played them last season, Ward said the Vaqueros will have a better idea how to prepare. And, he hopes, a week to improve on their techniques and execution from the Truckee game,
“It will be good this week to take a look at what we can do,” he said.
Sacred Heart Cathedral does not have a JV team this year, so Fernley’s JV team will host Lovelock in a game that will start at 3 p.m., to allow the Lovelock players time to get home for their season-opening festivities at their own varsity game.