RENO — Records were part of the silver lining.
Fallon linebacker Dalton Johnson notched a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Reed wide receiver Devin Gray tallied four TDs during Friday’s 32nd annual Sertoma Football Classic at Damonte Ranch to lead the Silver team to a 49-6 victory over the Blue team.
Fallon running back Tyson Ernst scored the Silver’s final TD in the fourth quarter, while Greenwave cornerback Skye Barton and defensive lineman Ian Fitzptatrick tallied several tackles. Offensive tackle Trevor Parsons helped hold the Blue defense line as Truckee quarterback Erik Holmer torched the Blue team for 345 yards on 22-of-32 attempts through the air.
“It’s fun to play against some of the kids you play against and make some new friends,” Barton said. “It’s amazing how fast you can build a bond with someone playing football.”
In addition, the Silver team gave legendary coach Bob Shaffer one more win as he heads into retirement.
“It was an honor to play for Shaffer,” Johnson said. “He’s a great coach.”
As it has been the past four years with Truckee hoisting the Division I-A state trophy, the Silver team doused Shaffer with water after the game.
“They got me one last time. I wasn’t quite expecting it,” he said. “I was trying to pay attention to what was going on out on the field, kind of reveling in that last moment, just being out here under the lights and around football and the coaching staff I’ve been with a long time — just enjoying the moment.”
Johnson’s score came as the Blue squad finally started to make progress after a lackluster opening quarter. The Fallon grad read the crossing pattern, slipped under the receiver and picked off South Tahoe’s John Cefalu.
Johnson’s eyes lit up as he raced down the right sideline. His defensive teammates, though, provided a wall and brushed aside Cefalu downfield as Johnson carried the ball into the end zone setting his team into a frenzy. The return put Johnson in the record book.
“Before the play, I thought to myself I would catch it and go as far as I can,” he said. “My defense was there, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been there.”
Ernst, meanwhile, finished the game with 38 yards on 13 carries and one TD. He started the game at running back and was spelled by Ty Shepard Jr. of Reed.
“The O-line started getting their blocks and I scored, so I’m happy,” Ernst said.
Fitzpatrick and Barton, though, displayed their skills on the defensive side of the ball, which held the Blue team to six points. The Blue team’s aerial attack, meanwhile, suffered as tight coverage plus at least six dropped passes aided the Silver team.
Fitzpatrick created havoc on the line and pressured the Blue’s trio of quarterback’s — Cefalu, Carson’s Matt Nolan and Sparks’ Geovanni Vasquez. The three combined to connect on 12-of-29 attempts for 131 yards and two picks including an interception on the first play of the game.
“The coaches knew what they were doing and the game plan was solid,” Fitzpatrick said. “We executed the game plan properly.”
Gray and Holmer, meanwhile, connected for a score in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Holmer found the lanky receiver in the second quarter in the corner of the end zone.
Gray leaped over the back of a defender and hauled in the pass for his second TD. Gray’s third score came later in the quarter when picked up a Holmer pass off his shoe laces and raced 23 yards for the score.
Gray’s fourth TD, though, was a stroke of luck. Holmer’s pass was intended for Spanish Springs’ Vance Lively, but the pass was tipped and fell into Gray’s waiting hands. He shook one defender and jogged into the end zone. Gray was named the Silver team MVP.
Holmer wasn’t finished, though, as he connected with Shepard for a 65-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“What was kind of really nice was that last drive, before we went out offensively I called the offensive linemen over,” Shaffer said. “And we kind of were struggling running the ball all day, and I challenged them and said, ‘We’re going to run the ball as many plays as we can until we don’t get a first down, or we score.’ And they responded to the challenge. So I’m really happy for them. Tyson Ernst did a great job running the ball hard there at the end and persevered, and it worked out great.”
As for Fallon, the 2013 installment of the Sertoma game marked a noticeable upgrade in selections for the Greenwave. Frank de Braga was the lone representative last year, but this season five players made the cut.
Fallon’s five was tied for the third most selections with Carson and behind Truckee and Reed, who each had seven.
“It was beyond exciting,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I think the school should be pretty honored,” Ernst added. “Next year they should take seven or eight.”
— Sierra Sun sports editor Sylas Wright contributed to this report.
“Before the play, I thought to myself I would catch it and go as far as I can. My defense was there, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been there.”
— Dalton Johnson on his 75-yard interception return