'Meet the Wolverines': Sierra College football still has work to do before season opener

By: Jeremy McDonald / Special to the Journal
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ROCKLIN — Coming off a 59-31 bowl loss to San Francisco City College last season, the Sierra College football team is looking to get back to that same level and then some.

On Saturday afternoon, Sierra took the field in its annual “Meet the Wolverines” intersquad scrimmage, where the defense forced two sacks of first-team quarterback Austin Young, recorded an interception against the second- and third-team offenses and caused havoc in the backfield.

But the unit wasn’t satisfied with its performance.

“We need to work on getting to the ball faster,” said cornerback Darian Thomas, who had four tackles in the scrimmage.

As for the offense, Young (Colfax High) was 9 of 14 for 48 yards with the first-stringers.

The lone scores of the game came from running back Johnny Cooley (Granite Bay) on a 30-yard sprint and a Kyle Cota (Nevada Union) touchdown pass to Ian Davis.

“Like any first time together you’re going live, the defense was ahead of the offense so I thought we did a great job creating turnovers and making plays in the backfield,” said second-year Sierra head coach Ben Noonan, whose team went 6-5 last season.

The offense still has time to make some improvements between now and when the season begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, Noonan said.

“Offensively, we can improve on a lot,” he said. “Every position took turns not doing their jobs. They need to focus on doing their job and we’ll get better as a unit when they individually do better.”

Heading into the regular season, Sierra has joined the newly created NorCal Conference that features defending state and co-national champion Butte College, Feather City College and American River College to name a few.

With the quest to win a championship, the Wolverines will turn to Javon Tillman, Leonard Hazewood (Antelope) and the lone returning All-American in Austin Wyatt-Thayer on the defensive end, while looking to their three-headed monster rushing attack with Conrad Tanyi, Zack Graves (Whitney) and Cooley on the offensive side of the ball.

“Our goal is always a championship and we got to work at that and I think we have a potential for that,” Cooley said.

The season kicks off at San Francisco City College against the team that put an end to Sierra’s season last year.

“We’re going back to San Francisco, which beat us in a bowl game 59-31,” Noonan said. “Offensively, we played horribly that game. So we have a lot to prove going back over there.”

That willingness to prove themselves can be felt down to the players.

“San Francisco is a great school. We’re going into the city of San Francisco,” Cooley said. “It’s going to be fun. We’re ready to go.”

But the mindset instilled is doing it one day at a time, one game at a time.

“We’re grinding every day, working every day,” Noonan said.