Use any of the clichés you want to describe the situation that Sierra High found itself in going into Friday’s regular season finale at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium, but its back was against the wall.
With three losses and a Weston Ranch team wanting nothing more than to play spoiler, Sierra knew it had to come out of the gate swinging to keep any decent playoff seeding hope alive.
So when senior quarterback Jake Pruitt took less than 90 seconds to drop a 70-yard pass into the mitts of Hunter Johnson for the game’s first score, the stars for the offensive rout started to align.
And align they did.
Pruitt’s quick-thinking helped Sierra (5-2 VOL, 7-3) manhandle the Cougars 54-12, guaranteeing the Timberwolves a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth for a third straight year.
“It feels great right now that we’re able to dial things up offensively and capitalize when we have the opportunities,” Pruitt said. “I came out tonight and I made some mistakes. I overthrew some balls. But we have some great receivers on this team a lot of the time, if you put the ball up there, they’re going to get it – all I have to do is make sure that it isn’t where the other team has a chance to get at it either.
“We needed a strong game tonight, and we came out and did all of the correct things – the little things. That’s what’s going to make the difference as we move forward.”
Pruitt finished the night 15-of-21 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns. He also legged one in from the goal line, and threw one interception.
“We knew that this was a game that we had to win,” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “We didn’t feel like six wins with our opponents’ win record was going to buy us any favors for making the playoffs, and we answered tonight – putting up 40 points in the first half.
“This was an important game and we had to get it done. I think that we did that. Jake got valuable experience last season as a junior. Some programs refer to it as the passing tree, but we talk about them as our passing ‘concepts’ – his high priority targets and check downs and his reads. And right now he’s got those things down and he’s able to put it right on the money.”
Hunter Johnson led all Sierra receivers with five catches for 132 yards and a score. Lucas Widmer pulled in three passes – two of them touchdowns – and Bryson Sanders hauled in five of his own for 69 yards, including a 20-yard strike from Pruitt.
The Cougars (2-5 VOL, 3-7) did manage to move the ball, but four turnovers by quarterback Marcus Moore, who scored one of the team’s two touchdowns on a 50-yard breakaway run.
“Our guys hung in there and kept fighting and there were little glimmers of greatness,” Weston Ranch coach Seth Davis said. “They’re young – 22 of the guys on the roster are juniors and are coming back so it’s important to see them hang in there and fight like this. It’s a game of matchups, and they had us on that tonight.”