STOCKTON — Going over all that Sierra High’s football program lost through graduation after last season’s gut-wrenching Sac-Joaquin Section playoff loss to Patterson would take ions.
Yet, that is exactly what the Sierra coaching has been doing since last season’s end, trying to find the Timberwolves’ right mix to open the upcoming campaign.
The coaching staff’s evaluation and decision making will get an abundance of information during this week’s full-contact football camp at Stagg High. Sierra will spend the week-long camp alongside host Stagg, Ripon Christian, Edison and Valley Oak League mate Weston Ranch.
“Both offensively and defensively we are a very young team,” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “We have a sophomore starting at a linebacker spot, three of our four receivers are juniors and our running back, who is a junior, is a returning starter.
“We’re a young team and this camp is just a great opportunity for us to see what these kids can do early on.”
Gone from Sierra’s playoff team from a season ago is the starting quarterback, starting middle linebacker, starting cornerback, starting wide-out, as well as three-fifths of the starting interior line.
Senior quarterback Tony Perea has assumed the role as the Timberwolves’ signal caller and will undoubtedly lean on the services of returning starter Anthony Cota in the backfield. Sierra will have to find the right complements to its offensive core, catapulting the importance of this summer’s off-season regimen.
“Right now it’s no secret that they’re auditioning,” Harbison said. “They’re auditioning for a spot, and this is the best way to do it. They are in gear and they’re competing. We expect some rough spots for those first couple of days.
“But we do expect them to mold and gel and get better as camp goes on.”
The Timberwolves have been able to build a program that has put together a handful of successful seasons during Harbison’s six-year tenure as head coach. Putting themselves in position to compete for VOL supremacy will depend heavily on the adaptation of a host of young players.
“I think the team, young players included, believes that we can achieve,” Harbison said. “It doesn’t have to always be the coaches trying to motivate the players, we have the players motivating and encouraging one another.
“There’s no doubt our program has that belief now.”