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T’Wolves celebrate championship, but work left to be done

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T’Wolves celebrate championship, but work left to be done

The Sierra High varisty football team celebrates with its first ever VOL championship after a 35-14 victory over Weston Ranch.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED November 14, 2009 2:26 a.m.
No banners. No ceremonies.

No pomp. No circumstance.

There was no indication of Sierra High being 48 minutes away from clinching a share of the Valley Oak League championship.

Players and coaches filed out of the locker room and went into pre-game warm-ups with hardly any emotion.

Their focus was on the opening kickoff.

“We came out business as usual,” Sierra running back Jarrod Daniels said.

Sierra erased last week’s paramount 44-42 upset of Oakdale from its memory. It was the first time Oakdale had ever lost to Sierra in a varsity football game, and the first time it lost a VOL game at home since 2000.

The Oakdale win got Sierra to this point, but that and the other seven “W’s” that came prior to didn’t matter.  Sierra treated its regular-season finale that it was expected to win like it was its first.

And with its 35-14 win over Weston Ranch, the Timberwolves got their “first” after knocking down several other firsts just a year ago.

That empty banner in the school’s gymnasium will finally have a patch.

It’s a championship that the Timberwolves will have to share with Oakdale, which solidified the other half with a 35-7 throttling of Sonora — which beat Sierra 17-7 on Oct. 24.

But to the Timberwolves it doesn’t matter, for it took 15 years for Sierra to get what its opponent got in two. Weston Ranch earned a three-way share of the title with Manteca and Sonora in 2005, the second year of its varsity existence.

It was what the seniors had waited for since making the program’s first-ever playoff appearance and winning its first postseason contest as juniors.

“This senior class has that ‘it,’” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “They have the mentality that they can’t be beaten and they’ve come out every Friday night and showed that.”

It’s been a special two years for the senior class, which has invigorated the program’s surge into VOL prominence, but there are others celebrating.

Linebackers coach Andrew Panigada, a 2004 graduate, never got to win a championship during his playing days, but he didn’t feel out of place while joining the rest of the team in chanting “VOL, VOL, VOL!” on the east end zone.

 “I do feel a part of it, but this is for all those other classes and all those great players that came through Sierra before me,” Panigada said. “This is for everybody that’s ever been a part of Sierra football.”

Including Daniel Teicheira, whom the stadium is named after.

Teicheira died in a car accident on July 1, 2002 before his junior year. Before that, his future was limitless.

As a freshman and sophomore he set records that haven’t been touched until this year, and two of them were eclipsed by Daniels Friday.

Daniels broke Teicheira’s single-game rushing mark with 278 yards and tied his single-game touchdown record of five in a 49-20 win over Central Valley on Oct. 16.

On Friday, he surpassed Teicheira’s single-season touchdown record (23) with a 62-yard pass play midway through the first quarter and added a 2-yard rushing score with 4:51 left in the third.

And on the ninth of his 14 carries, Daniels scampered 5 yards to break Teicheira’s career rushing record of 2,253.

“I feel privileged to be even the same sentence as Daniel Teicheira,” Daniels said. “He’s a great player and always will be.”

Middle linebacker John Perez didn’t set any records, but he is to Sierra’s defense as Daniels is to the offense. After a broken kneecap sidelined him for two seasons, Perez returned to the program this summer to take a starting position that wasn’t originally his.

And after missing out on Sierra’s historic run in 2008, he is one of the leaders of Sierra’s historic run in 2009.

 “It was all worth it,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience, and I love every minute of it.

“But we’re not done.”

Ah yes, the “We’re not done” mantra.

Perez echoed Harbison’s words from a week ago, as the coach reminded his players that there is one more game left to be played for that championship to be theirs.

And now there is at least one more game to play, possibly more. There is still one big “first” to be had — a Sac-Joaquin Section title.

Until then?

No balloons. No confetti.

No signs. No special presentations.

Sierra has no wins, no losses.

The focus now is the opening kickoff.
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