GARDEN VALLEY — A punishing rushing attack and dominating defense Friday left little doubt Golden Sierra was on a Senior Night mission to take one step closer toward a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
By completely dismantling Encina 49-20, the Grizzlies (4-1 Sierra Delta League, 4-5) close out the season at San Juan this Friday.
“Our team even with the early struggles always stayed positive and continued to work toward improving. This entire group has grown over the course of the season and that showed tonight,” Golden Sierra coach John Hilton said.
An untimely fumble put the Griz in an early hole but that changed as Brenden Nutt (68 yards rushing) powered into the end zone from the 3 yard line to give Golden Sierra a 7-6 lead after the extra point by Brian Cann.
Once Golden Sierra took the lead, the defense of Daniel Lesher, Cann, Sam Steward, Austin Burrows, Cameron Stephens, Reily Prine, Nick White, Casey Blakley, Justin Eicher, Dominic Chamberlain and Jeff Klahn took over. Lesher’s 58-yard interception return gave the home team a 14-6 lead.
The Grizzlies continued to put points on the scoreboard with a second touchdown from Nutt toward the end of the first quarter and Lesher threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to White in the second to increase the score to 28-6.
With the Grizzlies controlling the game on the ground, Cann (125 yards) went off left tackle to give Golden Sierra a 35-6 halftime advantage.
“Tonight was a great game and the whole team wanted to play well on senior night,” Cann said. “Our season started out tough but we have grown together as a team and now we are focused on next week and then getting to play in the postseason.”
Golden Sierra continued its suffocating defense in the second half while the offense chewed up chunks of yardage, adding touchdowns by Cann and Kyle Shiba.