Jack Weaver statistically had his least impressive outing of the season last Friday.
The heralded third-year quarterback for East Union was limited to 64 yards passing and rushed for a meager eight, certainly a credit to Lathrop’s swarming defense.
Weaver did contribute a pair of touchdown passes and another on the run in the 26-14 homecoming win, but there is one stat that matters most to him — 4-0.
The upstart Lancers are undefeated through four games for the first time since 2010, and their drive for a Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berth continues Friday at Sierra.
“I don’t have to have big games for us to win,” Weaver said. “I think last week I had 70 yards passing and we still won by two touchdowns, which is awesome. I just want to win ballgames with this team, that’s all that matters.”
The rivalry rumble features two quarterbacks with changing roles.
While the supporting cast has vastly approved around Weaver, Sierra’s Mark Vicente himself has developed into a game-changing talent capable of putting the spread attack on his back.
Weaver thus far hasn’t had to put up gaudy numbers, in part because the Lancers obliterated their first three opponents. Last week, however, was a testament to the team’s overall improvement.
After plowing through its pre-league schedule with a committee of running backs and wings, it was hard-charging Isaiah Sholund (31 carries, 148 yards, TD) whom East Union rode against Lathrop. The Lancers totaled 246 rushing yards, proving they have the goods to compete in the smash-mouth Valley Oak League.
“The difference with our team this year is our depth,” Weaver said. “The last couple of years our offense was (based on) big plays made out of nothing. Now, we have a lot of guys who can make plays and take the pressure off of me. I don’t have to be the guy that we have to count on. It starts with our line doing a great job.”
Weaver is still an astounding playmaker when he needs to be. He pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the final seconds of the first half in East Union’s season opener at Ceres, scrambling for about 15 seconds before lobbing a perfect strike to Matthew Pilkay. The wild sequence pushed the Lancers ahead for good at 14-6, and they dominated the second half en route to a 40-7 win.
It’s that kind of play that still has Weaver on opposing defenses’ radar. So far, he has thrown for 428 yards and seven touchdowns against zero interceptions but is also one of the team’s top rushers with 253 yards and five scores.
“Jack is an elusive quarterback who throws the ball well — it’s a very deadly combination,” Sierra coach Jeff Harbison said. “In the past with the offense that they ran, we knew that if we could stop the run we stood a good chance of winning the game. Now they are more diverse in what they do and it makes them more of a challenge for us to stop defensively.”
Harbison’s signal caller hasn’t been too shabby either.
Vicente keyed Sierra’s run to the CIF Division IV-A championship with a late game-winning drive in the Bowl Game at Chowchilla. Now in just his second year of playing the position, Vicente has grown more comfortable in his important role.
“From last year to this year I’ve developed as a quarterback,” he said. “I’m more poised, I try to make the right reads and trust my linemen and receivers do their jobs as the play develops.”
Vicente is gaining a reputation as a clutch performer. He led Sierra to an improbable 28-26 comeback win over Central Valley in Week 1, throwing for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
“You can’t have any quit in you,” Vicente said. “You have to have the confidence that there is a way to comeback if there is 10 minutes left or 1 minute left.
The Timberwolves (3-1) are coming off a 28-25 loss to Oakdale in their league opener, ending a nine-game winning streak going back to last year’s historic postseason march.
Vicente continued to impress even in the defeat, amassing a career-best 307 yards on 26-of-39 passing. He gave the Mustangs fits with his scrambling ability, prolonging plays with his feet and connecting with receivers on the run. Vicente has completed 69 percent of his passes — up from 62 in 2015 — for 1,024 yards, 12 touchdowns and three picks.
“Mark has been the catalyst to a lot of our success,” Harbison said. “In the last year and a half we have continued to have faith in what he can do, and we’re going to ride him as far as we can.”
East Union seeks its first win over Sierra in 13 years and trails in the all-time series, 16-5. The Timberwolves rained on EU’s homecoming night last year with a 54-28 trouncing.
“Last year we thought we had a great chance against Sierra and they blew us out at our homecoming,” Weaver said. “This year they scheduled us for their homecoming and we want to be party crashers. None of us seniors have ever beaten Sierra in football, and we want to get it done this week.”