GSHS Grizzlies team photo 1

Golden Sierra High School Grizzlies pose for a team photograph with the coaches: far left, wide receiver and defensive back coach, Scott London, 36, of Georgetown, defensive coach, John Piparo, 58, of Kelsey. Far right, running back, line back coach, Jeremy Nordby, 34, of Kelsey, head coach, John Hilton, 44, of Lincoln. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene


Golden Sierra football is off to a solid start

By From page A11 | September 8, 2011

2011 Golden Sierra Varsity Football Team

2: Cisco Lesher, Sr., 160; 7: Theo Wells, Sr., 190; 10, Mike Aplanalp, Sr., 155, 11: Hayden Nutt, Jr., 165; 20: Adam Sewell, Jr., 140; 22: Jim Hansen, Sr., 210; 23: Alex Knight, Sr., 145; 28: Christian Rosas, Sr., 140; 32: Alex Salyers, Sr., 155; 35: Shawn Alexander, Sr., 175; 41: Connor McDonald, Jr., 140; 44: Connor Barla, Sr., 155; 45: Zander Mishler, Jr., 160; 51: Nate DuVall, Jr., 245; 55: Kyle Hensman, Jr., 225; 57: Ryan Echeveria, Jr., 190; 62: Brian Agee, Jr., 165; 66: Sean Evans, Sr., 220; 77: Kyle Moe, Jr., 245; 79: Chris Evans, Jr., 275; 82: Bryson Campbell, Jr., 165

2011 Golden Sierra Varsity Football Schedule

 •Sept. 9: Golden Sierra @ Bear River

•Sept. 16: Golden Sierra @ El Dorado

•Sept. 23: Vacaville Christian @ Golden Sierra*

•Sept. 30: Bradshaw Christian @ Golden Sierra*

•Oct. 7: Golden Sierra @ Highlands*

•Oct. 14: Golden Sierra @ Rio Vista*

•Oct. 21: Encina @ Golden Sierra*

•Oct. 28: Golden Sierra @ San Juan*

Note: All games start at 7:30 p.m.

*Sierra Delta League games

Team: Golden Sierra Grizzlies

Sierra Delta League: Division VI — River City, Rio Vista, Highlands, Bradshaw Christian, Vacaville Christian, San Juan, Encina, Golden Sierra

2010 record: 6-6

Head coach: John Hilton, first year

Assistant coaches: Jeremy Nordby — linebackers, running backs; Scott London — wide receivers, defensive backs; John Piparo — defensive coordinator, offensive/defensive lines

Key returning players: Quarterback Mike Aplanalp; running back/linebacker/kicker Jim Hansen; wide receiver/defensive back Cisco Lesher;

The Golden Sierra High football team will have a new look this season — with a bit of the old thrown in.

New head coach John Hilton, 44, brings coaching experience from his first years at Rio Americano starting in 1988, to four years as a Placer High assistant coach, to a three-year co-head coaching position at Placer.

Hilton will employ a variable, single-back, double wing offense to the field — but on occasion plans to use two tight ends, which will look a little like the famous Cox Box, instituted by former coach Terry Cox.

Despite injuries that hit the team last year, the Grizzlies posted a very respectable 6-6 season and won one game in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs before coming up against powerful LeGrand.

“Mainly our formations will be a little more spread out this year,” Hilton said. “We’re also working on a short passing game and pushing to make that part of our offense.”

The 21-man team includes 11 new-to-varsity players, two returning juniors and eight returning seniors, including Mike Aplanalp, the Grizzlies’ quarterback.

Golden Sierra has relied more on the running game the past few years so Alplanalp, who saw time at the helm last year, has been working hard learning quick screens and play action passing.

“It will be rare to see us go to straight drop-back passes,” Hilton said.

After discussing defenses with his assistant coaches — John Piparo, Jeremy Nordby and Scott London — the decision was made to retain the Grizzlies’ 3-5 defense .

“I had some definite ideas coming in but our coaches were high on keeping the same defense, and I agreed after hearing their reasons,” Hilton said. “We are going to be very active on defense.”

Hilton’s first look at the Grizzlies in a scrimmage setting came at the Playmakers camp at Rosemont this summer, where the Griz went up against some much bigger programs such as Kennedy and Mira Loma.

“I was very happy to see how they handled actual play,” Hilton said. “It was a great learning experience for all of us.”

Hilton has now seen his team in two weeks of action, starting with a big opening night victory over powerful Capital Christian and last week’s win over Hiram Johnson. Friday the Griz face Bear River for a renewal of a once great rivalry when the teams both played in the Golden Empire League.

With just 21 players — and already dealing with injuries that had just 18 suited up for last week’s win against Hiram Johnson — Hilton’s emphasis is on conditioning, along with reestablishing excitement in the program to draw more players in the years to come.

“I knew coming in the numbers were down,” said Hilton, a physical education teacher at Placer High and the Hillmen’s baseball coach and assistant basketball coach. “Being an off campus coach, I can’t do much about that this year, but I hope to have a season that will create pride and one in which the kids have fun playing so that more kids will come out in the future.

“We have some tough teams on the schedule but I want to see us want to compete and battle — give it our best. Everyone is contributing on conditioning and accountable for themselves. I’ve had 100 percent success with communication. The team has a great work ethic and the kids are very upbeat.”

Coach Hilton is relying on his juniors and seniors and hopes to leave the Griz’ very promising junior varsity team intact.

“I am loyal to the juniors and seniors who came out — the only way I would pull up an underclassman is if he was better than anyone in the entire school, or a player gets hurt and no one else can play the position,” Hilton said.

“I respect the JV team and the staff and I’m thinking of the success of the entire program. The team is very strong, has a full schedule unlike last year, and should have a fantastic year. I see a lot of success for Golden Sierra down the road.”

Along with Alplanalp, returning seniors include Jim Hansen, a 2010 all league running back, linebacker and kick-off specialist; Cisco Lesher and Alex Knight, wide receivers; Christian Rosas, running back and defensive lineman; Marcus Buss and Sean Evans, who will  go both ways on the line; and Sean Alexander, running back/linebacker.

“Sean (Alexander) has done some really neat things this year. He’s practiced at tight end, wing, running back and wide receiver — everything but quarterback. He’s very versatile.”

Also out this season are seniors Connor Barla, receiver/defensive back; Jorge Gonzalez, who missed last year but is back on the line on both sides of the ball; Alex Salyers, running back/linebacker; and Theo Wills, tight end and defensive line.

With a year under their belt, Nate Duvall, offensive line/linebacker, and Kyle Hensman, offensive and defensive lineman, anchor the junior class players. Hensman and Brian Agee are splitting time at center.

In addition to playing tight end and linebacker, handling field goal and point-after duties, Bryson Campbell is the backup quarterback. The junior class also includes Agee and Ryan Echeveria, offensive/defensive linemen; Kyle Moe, offensive line; Hayden Nutt, wide receiver/defensive back; Adam Sewell, running back/linebacker; and Connor McDonald, wide receiver/defensive back.

Hilton is happy to be back on the field with a program he thinks is very promising. After taking two years away from football to go through the Sheriff’s Academy and become a reserve deputy, Hilton spent time assisting at Bear River and Del Oro before the position at Golden Sierra opened.

“I think this program is going in the right direction,” he said. “Spirit-wise, we have a lot of enthusiasm. Football’s not the only thing in these kids’ lives — they have family and school and possibly work to juggle.

“But our motto is, ‘Hard work is fun,’ and the kids are buying into it,” Hilton added.











Liz Kane

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