By Tyler Schmidt
SACRAMENTO — The Golden Sierra Grizzlies came into their matchup against the Encina Prep Bulldogs Friday at El Camino High knowing they’d need a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive and the Grizzlies moved a step closer with an easy 42-0 victory over the Bulldogs.
With a plan to establish the run, Golden Sierra did just that. After a quick stop by the defense, the Grizzlies came out on offense and did nothing but rush the ball. Both knew Golden Sierra would pound the running game but still Encina Prep couldn’t stop it. After a long drive, Jim Hansen dodged his way to the left side of the field and jogged into the end zone for the opening score.
Encina Prep wanted to respond but a fumble recovery by Jordan Winje gave Golden Sierra the ball back and toward the end of the first quarter, Hansen picked up his second touchdown of the night on a 15-yard scamper. With his two-point conversion, the Grizzlies led 15-0 at quarters end.
To start the second quarter, Encina Prep put together a solid drive down the field but another fumble recovered by Brice Anderson stopped the ‘Dogs in their tracks. With seven minutes left in the half, Golden Sierra wasted little time putting up another touchdown as Matt McKain went in from 12 yards out for a 22-0 halftime advantage.
The Grizzlies and Bulldogs came out fired up in the second half and a defensive battle resulted in a scoreless third quarter. The fourth wasn’t as on the first play McKain scored on a breakaway 25-yard touchdown run.
With the ensuing kickoff, Golden Sierra recovered the muffed kick and the Grizzly offense took over, driving the ball downfield to lead to Jeremy Estrada’s 4-yard run to move the score to 35-0 and drain the life out of Encina and its fans that had come out in the drizzle to support their team for Senior Night.
Despite the blowout, the Grizzlies stayed focused on defense and came up with their fourth fumble recovery of the day with four minutes left in the game. Hansen then pounded in another touchdown for the final score.
“It was a collective effort by our team today, almost everybody stood out for their good play. We are a unified team trying to make a playoff run, and I thought today was a good statement by my boys,” coach Terry Cox said.
Golden Sierra racked up 371 total rushing yards on the night. Hansen ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns while McKain collected 138 with two touchdowns. The Grizzly offense called upon quarterback Mike Aplanalp to throw just six times and he went 2-of-6 for 20 yards.
With it’s victory, Golden Sierra moves to 3-2 in conference and with a win at home this Friday against San Juan, the Griz are guaranteed a playoff berth.
“We need to win to be in the playoffs so it’s our most important game of the year. Our plan is to just play smash mouth football and run it down their throats. We want to make a physical statement with our running game,” Cox said about facing the Spartans.