LODI — Had the Golden Sierra High football team beat Le Grand for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title last Saturday at the Grape Bowl, the Grizzlies’ are content that the season is over.
Le Grand (12-0), which held off Golden Sierra (7-6) toward the end of the fourth quarter to preserve a 20-13 win are in the running for a CIF NorCal bowl bid.
Despite the setback, Golden Sierra coach John Hilton was more than pleased with the way the Grizzlies performed in the title game and throughout the season.
“Football is about a bunch of young men who know how to give and not to take,” Hilton said. “We want to see these young men grow up to be great men and learn how to give back. That’s the type of family we’ve pushed this year.”
The team was led by its 11 seniors: Daniel Lesher, Anthony Rosas, Brian Cann, Austin Burrows, Cameron Stephens, Sam Steward, Kyle Shiba, Jeff Klahn, Casey Blakley, Justin Eicher and Trevor Pedri — a “tight group” according to Hilton.
The Grizzlies emerged from an 0-4 start to go 5-1 in the Sierra Delta League for a second place finish. They then beat Delhi and Mariposa to advance to the section title game.
“Without these group of 11 young men out here, we wouldn’t be here,” Hilton said.
Stephens, who had 993 all-purpose yards that included 333 rushing and 335 on kick-off returns coming into the title game, spoke about his “family.”
“When we got to league, we knew we’d be better,” Stephens said. “Our goal was to reach sections. Most of us have been playing for six years (since Jr. Grizzlies youth football). We’ve just grown to know each other, and call each other family.”
The future looks bright for Golden Sierra’s upcoming seasons as its frosh/soph team went 7-0.
“We have a group of sophomores that know what it takes to develop, and how to work together,” Hilton said. “The juniors know how to carry that over, and I think it’s going to come along a lot quicker.”
Huddled at midfield after Saturday’s game, Hilton shared these words to his players, assistant coaches and Grizzly fans.
“I don’t doubt that any single one of you is going to do a great job. You’re going to be a great person once you leave high school. You can be a great man when it comes to life. You can be a great man when it comes to your wife. You can be a great man when it comes to your kids. You are great young men and I am proud of you. Don’t forget that.”
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.