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Sierra looks to rebound vs. upstart Spartans

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POSTED September 5, 2013 12:49 a.m.

Grace Davis may not be the walkover Sierra has stomped on in recent seasons.

Led by junior quarterback Zach Magana’s breakout performance, the Spartans raced to a 26-13 win at East Union in Week Zero. It had been nearly a decade since the Modesto-based squad opened with a ‘W.”

They no doubt have some momentum built up for their Friday night showdown with Sierra, which has marched to three straight wins over Davis by an average margin of 27.3 points. Coming off a 32-21 road loss to a talented Tracy team, the Timberwolves can ill afford to look past the Spartans.

They will lock up Friday at Johansen High’s Dan Gonsalves Stadium.

Magana orchestrates Davis’ West Coast Offense. He had a hand in all four of the Spartans’ touchdowns, throwing for three and rushing for one while racking up 295 yards on 15-of-26 passing.

Magana has good-sized receivers to go to. He targeted senior McKylby Kao (6-1, 157) for six catches, 84 yards and a touchdown. Two of Monte Jones’ three receptions were touchdowns as he finished with 86 yards. Preston Peacock (6-0, 165) had four catches for 110 yards. Michael Atkinson (6-2, 176) was limited to a single catch, but don’t be surprised if he’s more involved in the offense in Week 1.

East Union was successful in stuffing the Spartans’ ground attack, which was led by Magana’s 46 yards on 10 attempts.

Davis has some heft up front with returners Elijah Collins (5-9, 265), Joe Graves (6-3, 245) and Matthew Wittmayer (6-2, 260). Strong safety Teddy Wesley amassed 17 tackles and caused a fumble against EU last week. Wittmayer had nine tackles and a forced fumble.

Sierra held its own for the most part against Tracy’s versatile triple option. Though the Timberwolves gave up 392 yards (275 rushing), Tracy was able to get chunks of them on the few but costly big plays for Sierra.

Quarterback Jake Pruitt (25-40, 188 yards, TD) and the passing game hope to get untracked after they were stifled by Tracy’s ball-hawking secondary and disruptive pass rush. Reid Maestas (14 rushes, 89 yards, 2 TDs) had a nice first showing as the Timberwolves’ featured running back.



Liberty Ranch at Lathrop

It’s the first game for Steve Wichman as a varsity head coach, and he will unveil Lathrop’s new no-huddle, I-formation offense. The Spartans appear to have a good first test in Liberty Ranch.

The Hawks debuted their varsity team in 2010 a year after Lathrop did the same. They also have a new coach in Darin Higgins, who served as defensive coordinator last year for 11-1 Ripon. His defense performed well in a 17-15 loss at Amador, a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV postseason qualifier.

The offense, however, sputtered while stunted by drive-killing penalties. Running back Trevon Windley (621 yards, 11.5 per carry, 10 TDs) is the Hawks’ top returning weapon.



Ripon at Linden

This will be the sixth straight meeting between the two teams, and Ripon looks to make it six straight victories after blowing out the Lions 47-7 last season.

Both are coming off shutout wins: Ripon smashed Bret Harte 52-0, while Linden ripped Gustine, 36-0.

Linden hopes to be more competitive in this go-around with some experience on its side. Returning RB Eddie Murarik had 123 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries last week. He also had a receiving touchdown. Signal caller Colin Jacobs was efficient in a limited role, completing 3 of 4 passes for 21 yards, two scores and no picks. Third-year FB/MLB Bailey Wright (6-0, 210) is one of the Lions’ top two-way players.



Ripon Ch. at Elliot Ch.

The Knights should be familiar with their Week-1 opponent by now. They faced the Eagles of Lodi twice in 2012, first winning the season opener 28-13 before defeating them 42-22 in the first-round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs.

Tom Spadafore takes over as Elliot Christian’s head coach after serving as an assistant. With the graduation of bruising Ben Huckaby (1,782 yards, 24 TDs), he will look to second-year junior QB Holden Butler to balance out the offense.



Franklin at Weston Ranch

Franklin lost a double-overtime thriller, 28-26, to visiting Weston Ranch last year and will look to avenge the setback.

The Yellowjackets have struggled since their last winning season in 2006. They kicked off 2013 with a 34-21 loss to Antioch. Quarterback Anthony Shuemake completed 14 of 26 passes for 306 yards and two TDs

Friday’s home tilt is the season opener for the Cougars, who are now under the guidance of first-year varsity head coach Seth Davis.

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