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Oklahoma drill highlights Sierra College's first football practice with pads

Team hosting 'Meet the Wolverines' next week
By: Trevor Horn / Auburn Journal Correspondent
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ROCKLIN — Ben Noonan and his staff took little time getting their players to shake the rust off with the first practice in full pads on Saturday.

After a summer full of non-contact drills, the Sierra College football team went right at it Saturday morning with a hearty 15 minutes of Oklahoma drills that excited the team, the coaches and set the tone with just three weeks left until kickoff for the new coaching staff.

“I think they are a little bit tired of just touching each other and playing tag,” said Noonan, the first-year head coach at Sierra. “And we (started) it off right off the bat with a little intensity drill to see who the men to step up are going to be.”

Noonan has put in place a spread attack that will eventually result in a high-octane offense. But with a three-way battle at quarterback, the head coach says early on he is relying on the defense to set the pace for the Wolverines.

Led by returning starters Erik McKinnon at defensive line and safeties Zack Starnes and Mike Saulter, those three are the “emotional leaders” for the Wolverines.

“They are the emotional leader type guys,” Noonan said. “Those (guys) don’t say a lot, but the kids respect them. Most of our emotional leaders are on defense. Guys who have played significant amounts of time (that) are on defense. We will be relying on guys on that side of the ball heavily to pick us up at times.”

Added McKinnon: “We really have got to step it up as a defensive line because we really set the standard on how the defense is going to play. We as a unit really need to step up compared to last year.”

Noonan said he is not overly concerned with picking a quarterback too early during camp. He added that as the offensive coordinator at Citrus College in the Los Angeles area, he had three quarterbacks start and win games last season.

All three signal-callers competing for the job this fall for the Wolverines are out-of-state players. Daniel Harding is from Pennsylvania and Kyle Robbins and AJ Silva are both Reno-area products.

“It’s a unique situation because they are all out-of-area players,” Noonan said. “The guys we have here are competing.”

A newcomer at wide receiver is getting high regards from his head coach.

Devin Gray led Reed High School in Sparks to the Nevada state semifinals last season with 93 catches for 1,329 yards and 17 touchdowns, which led the state in all three categories according to stats compiled from MaxPreps.

“I am really excited,” Gray said. “Everyone out here is excited to play and try the new plays on first day of pads.”

Sierra opens the season at Sacramento City College on Sept. 7 and the home opener is on Sept. 14 against Feather River College at 1 p.m.

For fans wanting an early look at the Wolverines, the team is holding an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. in the first “Meet the Wolverines” scrimmage and fan fest. The first 100 fans will receive a 2013 poster.

“Everybody is welcomed to come in,” Noonan said. “That’s an exciting day. It’s a taste of how these Saturday’s will be in the future and I am really looking forward to that.”

Follow Trevor Horn on Twitter @trevhorn