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Johnson lauds Sierra’s McCray

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POSTED September 3, 2014 1:34 a.m.

Costco has just about anything you could ever imagine, including compliments.

Overheard in the freezer section at Costco: “That No. 50 was the best player on the field.”

The player in reference was Trevon McCray, Sierra High’s all-Valley Oak League middle linebacker. 

The man dishing out the warm praise in the frigid vegetable cooler: Ripon High head coach Chris Johnson, whose team was blasted by McCray and the Timberwolves 54-7 in their season opener on Friday night.

McCray was a terror in the backfield, shedding linemen and pulling down running backs from behind. He raced sideline to sideline, and as further proof that he played like a man possessed, he bounced off the field following a fumble recovery yelling maniacally, “I got the ball, coach. I got the ball.”

The Timberwolves limited the Indians to just three yards of offense in the first half – or a yard every eight minutes. It was an inspiring first performance, the kind that makes you wonder if Sierra has the chops to take this the distance.  

Of course, they’ll have to usurp the establishment.

Manteca, Oakdale and Central Catholic have long been known for their physical brand of football, but Johnson believes Sierra – a team he likened to a junior college program because of their size – will have a puncher’s chance in the Valley Oak League.

After all, who better to discuss bulk than the football coach shopping at Costco?

Tigers, T’wolves: 

What difference

does it make?

The Indians were gashed for 445 yards of offense, including 202 yards and seven touchdowns by a running back making his varsity debut. 

It won’t get any easier this week against Patterson, another perennial playoff team with speed to burn.

The Tigers’ offense has many of the same components that Sierra’s does. There’s a heralded receiver in Damarrio Hammonds, who had 126 yards and two touchdowns in a 47-34 victory at Escalon last week.

Running back Michael Lawson topped 200 yards on just 13 touches, and his backup, Antonio Vazquez, averaged more than 10 yards per carry.

What the Tigers don’t share with the Timberwolves, though, is the size on the offensive line or in their front seven. “At least they look like a high school team,” Johnson quipped.

Big blow to 

Buffs’ big bodies

Manteca High’s worst fears came to fruition during Friday’s slog at Wilcox in Santa Clara.

Right guard Darrell Clemons was knocked out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury, forcing backup Elijah Root-Sanchez onto the field. The Buffaloes had to look deeper down the bench when Root-Sanchez left with an undisclosed injury.

The extent of their injuries isn’t known and neither is their status for Friday’s home game against Valley Christian, a five-time qualifier for the North Coast Section playoffs. 

Soto savors win 

over third TD

Chase McKee punched the sky with the ball, celebrating his fourth-quarter fumble recovery. The play helped seal Manteca’s 20-14 victory, but did that hero’s moment belong to someone else?

On the previous play, fellow linebacker Hector Soto stripped the ball out of a Wilcox running back’s grasp and raced the other way for an apparent touchdown. It would have been his third of the game to go along with two rushing scores.

However, the officials said the Wilcox player’s forward progress had been stopped and whistled the play dead. Some felt the whistle came quicker than it had all game – and seemingly after Soto had the ball in his mitts.

No matter. 

Soto savored the redemption victory over the touchdown. Wilcox was one of two teams to beat Manteca last fall.

“This is a big win,” Soto said. “We knew they were going to be real physical so we had to bring it.”

Argonaut cancels 

on MHS freshman

Thursday night just opened up for the Manteca High freshman football team.

On Tuesday, head coach Brian Rohles was informed that the game with Argonaut had been canceled because the Mustangs have just 13 players – or only two available substitutes. 

The game won’t be rescheduled. Instead, Rohles hopes to schedule another game – possibly with Gregori of Modesto – during its bye week on Oct. 24.

Former Sierra WR

receives Gold Glove

The Timberwolves will honor one of their own before the start of Friday’s home opener against Central Valley.

Dakota Conners played one season of varsity football as a junior in 2012, but put away the pads to focus on baseball during his senior year.

The decision paid big dividends as Conners’ sparkling play at shortstop last spring earned him one of nine national Gold Glove awards.

Now a freshman at Cal State East Bay, Conners is regarded as the top defensive player to ever pull on a Timberwolf jersey. He committed just three errors in 100 chances as a senior.

Conners was just as productive on the gridiron, too. He was Sierra’s top receiver in 2012 with a team-high 43 catches for 501 yards and four touchdowns.

The varsity game will kick off at 7 p.m.

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