Cox returns to guide Grizzlies

Golden Sierra young, but talented, hungry for shot at the GEL title
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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GARDEN VALLEY — Terry Cox is enjoying familiar surroundings these days. After a decade away from Golden Sierra High, he is back to guide the Grizzlies’ football program. The players’ names have changed and there are a few new faces on the sidelines, but Cox is having no trouble re-adjusting to the school that he led to its only section title game appearance in 1994. The Grizzlies lost to Bear River, 3-0. “They’re running the same offense,” said Cox, who brought the “Cox Box” offense to Golden Sierra in the early 1990s. “We only have 25 players on the team – it reminds me of when I was first there. I really like the small-school setting, I live in the community. It’s a win-win situation.” The Grizzlies have done a lot of winning recently. They were 9-3 last season, losing to Golden Empire League rival Capital Christian 29-28 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals. Just three starters return from last year’s squad. Tailback Shae Vanommen rushed for 1,289 yards last season and averaged more than 10 yards per carry while sharing the load with departed senior Ian Brown. Vanommen said the Grizzlies’ offense could be even more explosive this season with Cox’s influence. “He’s tinkered with the offense, with our blocking schemes and I think it could be better this season,” the 5-6, 175-pound Vanommen said. “He’s refined it and he definitely knows his stuff.” Fullback Myles Davis will also be a leader for a very young offense. Sophomore quarterback Nick Highberger will have to learn on the fly while offensive linemen Dan Johnson (6-0, 240) and Mike Buettner (6-1, 185) will be key up front. Defensively, linebacker Cameron Chappell returns after making 78 tackles last year. Defensive lineman Alan Stark (6-1, 195) is a force. Vanommen will lead the secondary and the Grizzlies are hoping for a breakthrough season from junior Jake Hannah at safety. Chappell said the young group has the talent to succeed, but just needs to gain confidence. “We have a lot of talent, but everyone’s kind of timid because there were only a few of us starting last year,” Chappell said. Cox said the team’s primary goal is to progress as athletes and students. He’s also aiming to help the Grizzlies return to the playoffs. The non-league schedule begins with a tough test at Amador tonight. The Buffaloes feature highly touted quarterback-running back duo Matt and Adam Goggans. “We’re going to find out real quick how good we are,” Cox said. “We’re very young when it comes to experience. We’re just working on establishing our own identity this season.