WHAT: SJS Division III playoffs
WHO: (3) Sierra vs. (6) Inderkum
WHERE: Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
ADMISSION: $10 adults, $7 seniors/students, Free for kids 5-under.
Sierra is hoping past experiences prove helpful in its Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal with visiting Inderkum this Friday.
The sixth-seeded Tigers (9-2) from Sacramento put their athletic ability to good use with a high-octane wing-T offense, one that No. 3 Sierra (10-1) struggled with in its lone loss — a 49-7 drubbing administered by D-III favorite Oakdale.
“We learned what didn’t work against the wing-T in the Oakdale game,” Sierra coach Jeff Harbison said. “There are some things we needed to change to contain their offense. (Inderkum) is a little different in that they run more counters and use their speed to outflank you.”
Inderkum will face a second straight Valley Oak League opponent after staving off upset-minded Manteca, 30-21. Sierra, meanwhile, made the necessary adjustments to upend No. 14 Rosemont in a 28-8 victory after a slow start.
“We really need to set the tone this week whether we come out on offense or defense first,” Harbison said.
Inderkum racked up 266 yards rushing last week with a backfield ravaged by injuries. Speedy D.J. Myart is lost for the season with a knee injury, and explosive Eric Walters was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons.
That leaves Josh Montes, who missed games earlier this season with a torn tendon, as the only returner from last year’s dynamic backfield triumvirate. Montes burned Manteca for 77 yards on 13 rushes and 47 more yards on two receptions. Terrence White (10 rushes, 69 yards) and punishing fullback Brandon Powell (6 rushes, 95 yards) also did damage.
Quarterback C.J. Spencer also showcased his big-play ability, finishing with 197 yards and three touchdowns on just 8-of-12 passing.
“They can run inside, they can run outside and they can throw the ball over you,” Harbison said. “They’re a complete team.”
Dedric Allen, a dominant 6-foot-2, 220-pound lineman, and the Inderkum defense will look to slow down Sierra’s balanced spread offense led by running back Anthony Cota (1,876 yards, 36 TDs) and quarterback Jake Pruitt (1,453 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs).
Sierra is making its fourth playoff appearance in five years, while Inderkum has qualified seven years in a row. The Tigers twice made the Division III finals, losing to Casa Roble 27-21 in 2008 and to Del Campo 16-12 in 2009. Sierra is looking to reach the semifinals for the second time, first doing so in 2009 when the Timberwolves lost to eventual champion Del Campo.
Despite its lower seed, Inderkum is viewed by some as the favorite in Friday’s contest. The Tigers’ losses were against powerhouse Rocklin and Tri-County Conference champion Yuba City, which finished the regular season undefeated. They have quality wins over Elk Grove power Pleasant Grove, Spanish Springs of Sparks, Nev. and Terra Nova of Pacifica.
It would be a benchmark victory if Sierra can get past Inderkum. MaxPreps ranks Sierra 40th overall in the section, while Inderkum is 27th.
“We’re thankful to have home-field advantage,” Harbison said. “The players know what they’re up against and what’s at stake, so it’s just a matter of going out and getting the job done.”