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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, September 1, 2016

STATE CHAMPS START OVER Third-year starters look to lead inexperienced Timberwolves

Hime Romero/The Bulletin

Sierra High’s offense runs drills during the defending CIF State Championship football team Sierra High’s practice as they prepare for the upcoming season.


By J O NAMAR JACINTO T h e Bu lletin

Seuseu Alofaituli, Marcos Castillo and Nashon Tamiano already have much to celebrate going into their third and final season on Sierra’s varsity football team. As sophomores, they were key members on a talented defense that anchored the Timberwolves’ run to a Valley Oak League championship. Then as juniors, they helped Sierra capture its first Sac-Joaquin Section banner for football in what was a dominant run through the Division IV bracket. The ride didn’t end there, as the T’wolves went on win the Northern California at CIF State Division IV-A Bowl Games. So what is there left for the trio to accomplish? Castillo said the team remains motivated, but there is no talk of repeating its historic campaign. “You can’t look too far ahead and at the same time you can’t live in the past,” Castillo said. “New guys have come in and we have to keep them focused. Yeah, we want to go back to state, but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.” There is much work ahead for what is a mostly-untested group of Timberwolves, who have just three returning starters on offense and five on defense. The good news is that the few returners bring a wealth of experience from a 15-week season. Senior quarterback Mark Vicente has a better grasp of the spread offense to go with heightened confidence after spearheading a late drive that put Sierra ahead for good late in its state title game at Chowchilla. Last year was his first behind center, and he improved as the season went on and completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,519 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 10 scores rushing. “I have a lot of experience behind me now,” Vicente now. It’s a lot easier for me to read the coverages, read the defense and make the right decisions. The key for me now is to stay calm in the pocket, not get flustered and take the hit for the team if I have to.” Sierra graduated its top receiver and rusher in Daniel Wyatt and Mark Paule Jr., respectively. The versatile Castillo takes over as the featured back, and Jesse Babauta is the lone holdover from Sierra’s four-receiver set. Seniors Brandon Arreola (RB), Carlos Perez (WR) and Eriq Kurys (WR) are others expected to fill key roles. Sierra lacks even more experience in the

Hime Romero/The Bulletin

TOP PHOTO: Sierra assistant coach Ryan Teicheira (R) goes over offense assignments with varsity players during a water break.

trenches, where Tamiano is the lone returner. Sierra coach Jeff Harbison likes what he sees out of senior Fernando Vega and junior Jordan Black, and he’s hoping sophomore Isaiah Lee can solidify his spot at center. While it’s a scrappy bunch, the offensive line no longer has the imposing presence of 6-foot-6, 335-pound tackle Josh Fala who is now at Delaware State. “Our line is undersized, but we have high hopes for them,” Harbison said, “It’s just hard to assess them at this point because of the limited contact.” The defensive line will have to replace emotional leader Enrique Jasso and MaxPreps All-State Small Schools selection Andrew Guevara (19.5 sacks), but linebackers Alofaituli and Tamiano are still around to anchor the 4-2 front. Caden Worth was a late-season call-up from the sophomore squad last season who played significant minutes and now starts at free safety. Castillo is back at strong safety and placekicker. “We have some players who played a lot last year, and it’s up to us to lead the rest Hime Romero/The Bulletin of the team,” Castillo said. “One thing we do have is chemistry from getting to play so Sierra High running back Brandon Arreola runs offensive plays during practice. much last year.”

No. Player Pos. 2 Seuseu Alofaituli LB Anthony Salgado CB 3 4 David Perry WR/CB Brandon Arreola RB/S 5 7 Angelo Talamantes WR/CB 8 Jacob Peterson WR/SS/K Jesse Babauta WR/CB 10 11 Caden Worth QB/SS QB 12 Mark VicAente 16 Abraham Velasco QB/P 17 David Rodriguez CB WR/S 18 Eriq Kurys 19 Andre Leslie RB David Reyes WR 20 21 Leo Matthews CB 22 Marcos Castillo RB/S/K Pablo Salcedo WR/SS 23 24 Carlos Perez WR/CB CB 25 Miguel Cervantez 26 Tyler Fitch SS 30 Jujhar Singh DT Taj Qadree RB 32 33 Derek Rosendin SS Daemon Duran WR/CB 34 40 Tarjei Hage K 41 Ken Wade WR/RB JoJo Dunham SS 42 44 Josh Moore RB/LB Noah Armstrong OL/LB 50 51 Kurtis Parrish DL 52 Nashon Tamiano OL/LB Jordan Black OL/LB 53 54 Isaiah Lee OL/DL Josh Jacobsen OL 55 56 Hayden Borgeson DL 57 Arnold Urbina OL/DL Carson Anderson DL 58 60 Everardo Ordunez DL Leo Pimentel DT 62 64 William Dickerson DL 70 Will Christian OL/DL Dilpreet Singh OL/DL 71 74 Fernando Vega OL/DL DL 75 Orlando Biggs

COACHES Jeff Harbison (head coach, 12th year), Jay Muschott (WR/DB), Andrew Panigada (OL/DL), Justin Silva (OL/DB), Ryan Teicheira (QB/DB).

SCHEDULE Aug. 26 at Ripon, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2 vs. Central Valley, 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at Lodi (Grape Bowl), 7:15 p.m. Sept. 23 vs. Oakdale, 7 p.m. Sept. 30 vs. East Union, 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at Manteca, 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Kimball, 7 p.m. Oct. 21 vs. Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Lathrop, 7:15 p.m. Nov. 4 at Weston Ranch, 7 p.m.

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