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Leader of the Pack
Flores is TWolves unexpected hero of historic 2008 season
Ryan Flores is the Bulletin’s 2008 All-Area Football MVP. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


Marquis Miller, RB, Manteca junior —The 5-foot-10, 191-pound back got bigger, stronger and faster over the offseason and had a terrific varsity debut because of it. Paced area rushers with 1,285 yards and tied two others with 18 touchdowns.


Michael Turner, LB, Sierra senior — Named the VOL’s Defensive Player of the Year and is the first Sierra player to earn a major award since Ben Oehninger was Offensive Player of the Year in 1999. Had 104 tackles going into the season-ending playoff game against Whitney.

Ryan Baker, RB/DB/K Ripon senior — All-Trans Valley League selection as a first-team RB and a second-team kicker. Electric rusher racked up 792 yards and six touchdowns, while nailing seven field goals and 32 PATs. Also finished with 26 tackles on defense.


QB Matt Barber, Manteca junior — One of three Buffalo signal callers, Barber completed 50 percent of his passes for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions.
RB Jarrod Daniels, Sierra junior — Bruising runner thrived in Sierra’s single-back spread offense, rumbling for 1,126 yards and 18 touchdowns.
RB Will Heersink, Ripon Christian senior — Area’s scoring leader with 126 points rushed for 1,028 yards and 14 scores. Fleet-footed all-TVL first-team selection also caught 18 passes for 422 yards and five TDs. He added two more TDs on special teams returns.
RB Efren Sifuentes, Ripon senior — One of three area rushers with 18 touchdowns despite being slowed by a hamstring injury all season. Finished with 792 yards on 110 carries.
WR Reggie Bell, Manteca junior — Outstanding varsity debut highlighted by 34 catches for area highs 762 yards and 10 TDs in Manteca’s run-oriented attack.
TE Dakota Anderson, East Union senior — The Lancers’ lone all-VOL first-team representative finished with 608 yards and five touchdowns on 33 receptions.
OL Justin Brooks, Ripon senior — TVL first-team honoree keyed the Indians’ run-first Wing-T offense.
OL Alex Detrich, Manteca senior — The 6-foot, 270-pound left tackle earned all-VOL second-team recognition.
OL Jacob Faulkner, Sierra senior — Huge tackle at 6-3, 276 was named  to the all-VOL first-team offense.
OL Robert Plunk, Sierra senior — All-VOL second-team lineman helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers.
C Damico Gaines, Manteca senior — Despite his lack of size (5-10, 185 pounds), Gaines anchored the Buffaloes’ line and helped it do what it does best — pound away with the run.
UTIL/K Anthony Hall, Sierra junior — Timberwolves’ little engine that could at 5-8, 151 played bigger than his frame, catching 46 passes for 508 yards and five TDs. Was also one of the area’s best placekickers, converting 36 point-after tries and five field goals.


DL Nick Gardner, Manteca senior — One of just two VOL players to make the first team for offense and defense, the 6-0, 240-pound mauler finished with 42 tackles, two sacks and nine stops behind the line of scrimmage.
DL Erik German, Sierra senior — Stout interior lineman collected 38 tackles and a sack in 11 games and was voted to the all-VOL first team defense.
DL Hart Yoshida, Ripon senior — TVL’s co-Defensive Lineman of the Year was short on size at 5-7, 185 but not on production with 37 tackles and six sacks.
LB Chris Contreras, Weston Ranch junior — Played three different positions on the Cougar defense, racking up 70 tackles, eight sacks and three fumble recoveries — one of which was returned for a score.
LB Nick Curtice, Ripon junior — Led Indians with 93 tackles and was named to the all-TVL first-team defense.
LB Cody Dias, Sierra junior — Area sack leader with 10 also finished with 75 tackles.
LB James Glidden, Manteca senior — Turned in 51 tackles and team highs in sacks (five), quarterback knockdowns (10), tackles for losses (10) and two defensive touchdowns.
LB Josiah Neeley, Ripon Christian junior — Big-time hitter led all area players with 146 tackles from the middle of the Knights’ defense and was one of the best blocking fullbacks around.
CB LaRon Bennett, Manteca senior — All-VOL first-team selection combined size (6-0, 185) and speed as a force in the Buffaloes’ defensive backfield, where he tallied 27 tackles, two interceptions and a team-best seven deflected passes.
CB Zach Doty, Sierra senior — Led area defensive backs with seven interceptions to go with 44 tackles. Ended season with a bang in the T’Wolves’ playoff loss to Whitney, as he broke up four passes.
S Nick Wendell, Sierra senior — Timberwolves’ vocal leader turned in 90 tackles, three interceptions and six pass deflections. Highlighted Sierra’s first-ever playoff victory against Rio Linda with an 82-yard TD off a fumble recovery.
UTIL Jacob Salas, Manteca junior — Transfer from Coalinga was a threat in many ways. The 6-2, 180-pounder picked off four passes and forced two fumbles on the defensive end. On offense, he completed nine of 16 passes for 159 yards and a TD while rushing for 183 yards and three scores on offense.

— Jonamar Jacinto
Sierra High offensive coordinator Jeff Abrew installed the spread offense in 2007.
With a quarterback like Mike Garcia and wide receivers Nigel Malone and Avery White in the arsenal, how could he resist?
But when that talented trio graduated, what were the Timberwolves to do?
The 2008 varsity team welcomed a junior class that went 8-0-2 at the sophomore level, where it was successful operating the more run-oriented wing-T, and the starting quarterback position was returning senior Ryan Flores’ to lose.
Ryan Flores, who was hardly tested.
Ryan Flores, all 5 feet, 10 inches and 165 pounds of him.
“I felt like I had some big shoes to fill,” said the Bulletin’s 2008 All-Area Football MVP. “With Mike being the all-time (single-season) passing leader at the school I had something to prove.
“At the beginning of the season it was a little nerve-wracking to know that the pressure was on my shoulders.”
It turns out his replacement has even bigger shoes to fill.
Flores is the school’s first quarterback to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in both passing and rushing. He completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,641 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,006 yards and six scores.
Flores led the Timberwolves to their most wins (nine in 12 games) in a single season, first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance and first postseason victory (21-7 over Rio Linda) in the program’s 14th year of varsity play.
And the scrawny signal caller used more brain and heart than arm and legs to get them to that point.
“He was certainly a surprise for us this year,” head coach Jeff Harbison said. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor. We didn’t know of his ability to run until we got into camp.”
It was then that the coaching staff tweaked its uptempo, spread offense to cater to Flores’ untapped strengths.
The team’s trademark play was one that only Flores knew was coming.
Designed handoffs intended for fellow 1,000-yard rusher Jarrod Daniels would change on the fly, with Flores pulling the ball from his running back’s outstretched arms and re-routing the play for positive yardage.
“He had incredible vision,” Harbison said. “He had great instincts on when to pull the football and just made things happen for us. He also got the job done throwing the ball.
“He was, without question, the heart and soul of our offense.”
That was obvious in Sierra’s final game of the season in Rocklin, where eventual section Division IV champion Whitney handled the Timberwolves 51-28 under foggy conditions.
Flores struggled at the start, turning it over three times in the first quarter. One of those giveaways was a fumble on a sack returned 62 yards for a 14-0 Whitney lead.
But Flores and his Timberwolves showed fight throughout. They proved that even the stingiest of defenses couldn’t keep them from moving downfield seemingly at will, but those early mistakes were too much to overcome.
Flores ended up throwing for 215 yards and four picks on 18-of-40 passing, while rushing for 107 yards on 20 carries. Sierra outgained Whitney 399-360 on total yards from scrimmage.
“It hurt after the game and a little bit the next morning, but then I realized that we made it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in school history,” he said. “To lose to the section a champion is not too bad.”
Despite the heartbreaking end to the unforgettable season, there was still a lot for Sierra to be proud of.
There was the 7-6 win over hated rival Manteca, which hadn’t lost to the Timberwolves since 2000.
There was the 38-14 homecoming victory against Sonora, which last lost to Sierra 10 years ago.
Even in defeat, namely its 31-21 loss to the last of the Valley Oak League’s three traditional powerhouses, Oakdale, did Sierra garner respect.
“It was beyond amazing,” Flores said of the season. “Being a part of history at the school is great.”
Flores wasn’t just a part of a part of school history.
He carried them there.
“Ryan’s one of those players that’s going to be hard to replace,” Harbison said.