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Sierra gives senior QB the nod
Valencias postseason experience wins out
Adrian Valencia won the starting role for the Timberwolves and he will have to performa immediately when Sierra opens the 2010 season against Enochs at 7:30 p.m. at Sierra High. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: Sierra vs. Enochs
• WHERE: Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium
• WHEN: Today
• KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. (after frosh, soph games)

When Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison opened last season in a one-sided victory over Lathrop High. His toughest decision was settling on a starting quarterback. Now, Sierra will open this season’s title defense against Enochs High and deciding on the starting signal caller didn’t come any easier.

When the Timberwolves take the field against Enochs tonight, returning senior Adrian Valencia will lead Sierra’s offense from the quarterback position. Valencia outdueled junior Tony Perea in what turned out to be a battle up until the final days leading up to the season opener.

“I have worked really hard this summer,” Valencia said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to just step in and it be my spot; I had to work for it because I know Anthony Perea is a really good quarterback. He and I are like neck-and-neck.

“I was getting worried at the end; I thought he was about to take the position.”

Perea led the Timberwolves’ sophomore squad to a co-Valley Oak League championship last year, and has done everything in his power to be Sierra’s starter this year. Valencia’s edge came with the experience factor, after leading Sierra to a second-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff victory – in relief.

“This was really tough, because they are both so similar in their styles,” Harbison said. “They are very similar. They are the same height, same build; it was a very tough decision to say the least.

“It came down to Adrian having the varsity experience and the playoff experience against Benecia last year.”

Valencia got loose for 218 yards on the ground, playing a prominent role in the Timberwolves’ 40-39 win over Benecia. His dual-threat capability makes him ever so dangerous in Sierra’s spread offense, and the Timberwolves will need him to be effective running and passing if they plan on opening the season on the right foot with a win over Enochs.

The Eagles posted a 4-1 mark a season ago in the Modesto Metro Conference, earning a SJS Division-I playoff berth. Enochs missed the mark in a 55-24 loss to Tracy, but the squad has to like where it stands  returning both of its starting quarterback and their biggest playmaker from the receiver spot.

Enochs opens with four consecutive playoff teams from 2009 (Sierra, Buhach Colony, Hilmar and Manteca), so dropping its week-zero game with Sierra is not something the Eagles will plan on doing. Sierra’s 55-0 season opener last year was a perfect start, but this year’s group will have to take a different approach.

“We went ahead and scheduled two playoff teams to start out the season,” Harbison said. “Enochs will be tough and Granada (week-3) will never be an easy task with the Atkinson (George and Josh) brothers, but it’s a good test for us to prepare for the season.

“It’s the best way to get ready for a tough Valley Oak League schedule.”

It is the program’s first game playing with the bull’s eye on its back, and a successful showing will mean the Timberwolves open the season on top.

“I’d say a perfect night would be, first and foremost, coming away with a victory,” Harbison said. “And secondly to come away from the game healthy.

“We just want everybody walking away from the field.”