Golden Sierra’s varsity team is holding a pep rally this evening starting at 6 p.m. in the Grizzly Dome. Everyone is invited to attend as support for the team’s upcoming championship game on Saturday in Lodi.
GARDEN VALLEY — Golden Sierra takes the field at Lodi’s Grape Bowl tomorrow opposite Le Grand to play for the Division V Sac-Joaquin Section title.
The Grizzlies’ championship game appearance is the program’s first in almost 20 years. In 1994, Golden Sierra fell to Bear River 3-0 in a defensive battle.
Le Grand returns to the title game for the fifth straight year, having won the last three banners. The Bulldogs sport an 11-0 record and two players, Ryan Martinez and Christian Williams, the Griz must contend with.
“Le Grand’s a powerful team that can put points on the board. We’ll have to come out and play very physical with them,” Golden Sierra coach John Hilton said. “They have two very good athletes: a tailback No. 10 (Martinez) who is 80 percent of their offense and No. 9 (Williams) who’s a big game-changer, a receiver who also runs the ball. Where he’s really dangerous is on special teams with punt and kickoff returns.”
Recent history favors Le Grand but not by much. In last season’s playoff opener, the Bulldogs ousted the Grizzlies 24-22 at Garden Valley.
“That was a really good game. We controlled three-fourths of the game but let down at the end and they came back. We were in position to win with a field goal but just couldn’t get the kick off,” Hilton said.
Golden Sierra plans to carry the physicality of last year’s matchup into tomorrow’s game.
“One of things I’ve noticed from watching film is that they really haven’t been tested or attacked,” Hilton said. “We’ll hit them hard and let them know ‘you’re in a game’ which will even things out.”
Offensively, the Grizzlies will pound the ball behind their big running backs, led by Brian Cann and Brendon Nutt.
“A key will be our offensive line against their defensive line. If we get the edge it’ll be a very good game,” Hilton said.
Hilton likes the fact the game is at a neutral site. He’s pleased the team gets lineman Justin Eicher back after missing the Mariposa game. Health-wise, everyone’s good to go.
The Grizzlies have won seven of their last eight and take momentum into tomorrow’s finale.
“You can really see a change in that the team has come together, has confidence and trusts one another,” Hilton said. “We’re excited to have this opportunity … anything can happen. You have to play the game. If we play our game we’ll put ourselves in position to have success.”
Kickoff is at 6 p.m.