STOCKTON – The Sierra High Timberwolves wrapped up a share of the Valley Oak League championship on Friday thanks to a convincing 49-7 victory at Weston Ranch.
They won the football crown for the second time in school history, with this one joining the first that came in 2009.
“This isn’t about me,” said Timberwolves coach Jeff Harbison after getting drenched in the celebratory Gatorade – or water, in the case – shower by his team at the conclusion of the VOL finale.
He added: “It does feel terrific (to get the Gatorade shower).”
Sierra (6-1, 8-1) came out like an efficient machine as the offense was keyed by a powerful front line.
The group paved the way for junior running back Mark Paule Jr., who was back to his ways of carving out defenses, gaining a game-high 142 yards on 15 carries while scoring six touchdowns.
Of that, five came on the ground – 10-, 7-, 6-, 4-, and 28- yard runs – while the other took place late in the second quarter on an option pass from Daniel Wyatt.
The Timberwolves claimed co-VOL title with Oakdale, which rolled past Central Catholic.
The Cougars (2-5, 3-7) under second-year coach Seth Davis are working to join the elite. Weston Ranch showed improvement this past year, playing Sierra tough at times.
“Our guys are there for each other,” said Davis. “They’re playing with a lot of heart.”
Sierra, meanwhile, wasted little time getting untracked. On that first series, the Timberwolves went 55 yards on seven plays. Paule, who carried the ball five times on the drive for 48 yards, scored from 10 yards out. He was just warming up.
Paule and quarterback Devin Nunez helped set up the next score with runs of 26 and 15 yards, respectively.
Ahead 14-0, Nunez connected with Chris Stevens on a short pass. He did the rest, racing 37 yards to the end zone.
Sierra, which benefitted from good field position throughout the first half, went up 28-0 early in the second quarter on another Paule touchdown.
A pair of turnovers made for further damage for the Cougars.
First, Sierra’s Marcus Castillo intercepted a pass at midfield. Nunez then scrambled for 48 yards, setting up Paule’s short TD run.
Timberwolves’ linebacker Scott Teicheira came up with a theft. That set up Paule’s 28-yard scoring run.
Weston Ranch put together its best drive after that. Quarterback Muhammad Kahn dumped off a short pass to running back Robert Strother, who slipped loose for a 43-yard gain. He fell a yard shy of the end zone, but Erron Duncan took care of that by punching the ball in for the score.
Sierra’s next possession ended with wide receiver Wyatt finding Paule with nicely thrown 28-yard bomb to Paule right before the intermission.
“We did our part and now we’ll wait to see who we play (in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs),” Harbison said.