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Sierra doesnt skip a beat after injury to Cota
Weston Ranch linebacker Sean Visperas chases down Sierra receiver Jordan Lewis from behind after a long gain for the visiting Timberwolves. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

WESTON RANCH – Conventional wisdom says that when your best player leaves the game in the second quarter you’re more than likely in for trouble.

And in the case of the Sierra Timberwolves – who watched season-long standout Anthony Cota hobble off the field with a bum ankle not to return – that still may be in the Sac-Joaquin Division III playoffs.

But with quarterback Jake Pruitt on his game and Renaissance man Guillermo Nunez able to step in and pick up the slack, Sierra’s offense didn’t skip a beat in the 49-0 beating that it dealt Weston Ranch in the final game of the Valley Oak League season.

“Our offense was firing on all cylinders tonight, and that’s where we have to be at this point in the season – Anthony’s injury notwithstanding,” said Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison. “Jake (Pruitt) threw the ball well, our receivers caught the ball well, our linemen blocked well. And that’s what we needed to see, because when you look at the Division III bracket and the teams that are there they aren’t anything to sneeze at.

“All we can do is anticipate who we’re going to play and go from there.”

While Cota didn’t get to finish a full half, he still made an impact in the game’s first quarter, hooking up with Pruitt from 29-yards out for the game’s first score. He found the end zone again the following drive with an 18-yard run.

The absence of their workhorse, however, didn’t slow down Sierra (9-1, 6-1 VOL), which turned to the hot hand of its quarterback to pile on the points. Pruitt found open receivers twice more in the game’s first half – Jordan Lewis on a 65-yard strike up the right sideline, and Guillermo Nunez on a 23-yard route to the left pylon.

Pruitt finished the game 10-of-13 passing for 245 yards with three touchdowns. He also ran one in.

Stepping in to help pick up some of the slack left by their senior star was the versatile Nunez – the quarterback-turned-running back that has since taken on a role in the defensive secondary and gets steady reps from the wideout position.

Having somebody like that to turn to, Harbison said, helps make his job much easier.

“He’s such a versatile player with his ability to really do anything that we ask of him to do,” Harbison said. “We’re fortunate to have a player like that on our team.”

Sierra’s defense was also in league by itself.

In addition to keeping sophomore quarterback call-up Dalshawn Williams on the run nearly all night – and picking him once – the Timberwolves held Weston Ranch (4-6, 2-5 VOL) to 8 total yards of offense.

It might not have been the season that he was expecting back during summer workouts, but Cougar head coach Mike Hale praised his players for their performances nonetheless – citing a myriad of issues ranging from player discipline to coaching changes that took their toll throughout the season.

“There has been a lot of adversity for these kids to deal with this year, and they showed a lot of heart with the way that they handled everything,” Hale said. “We started with more than 40 players and we came into the game tonight with only 22. And we had a chance to finish at .500 with two games left to go in the season – that’s a testament to the hard work on their part.

“Sierra is a strong team and they’ve been a team of consistency over the last few years. We just couldn’t keep up with them tonight.”