MARIPOSA — Golden Sierra’s Brian Cann played vital roles on both sides of the ball in Friday’s thrilling 35-28 overtime victory at Mariposa, sending the Grizzlies to the section championship game for the second time in school history.
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Not only did the Grizzly running back/inside linebacker score four of the team’s five touchdowns, including the winning one in overtime, as a curtain call the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Cann joined fellow backers Sam Steward and Daniel Lesher in stopping a Mariposa running back at the 1 yard line on fourth down to secure the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinal win for Golden Sierra (7-5).
“They got down to the 2 yard line,” said Golden Sierra head coach John Hilton of the big defensive stop. “I was looking at my list of plays getting ready for a second overtime until I looked up and saw the play. In practices, we had been working to stop that play they ran.”
Cann, who also booted all of the Grizzlies’ extra-points in the game, wanted the ball in overtime, Hilton said.
“He said ‘Coach, give me the ball,'” Hilton said. “Brian has stepped it up since we have been making our run, and people saw that as the game went on.”
Cann also caught two critical passes in the game, including one for 30 yards in the fourth quarter.
“He’s not vocal but leads by example,” said Hilton of Cann. “He’s a tough young man.”
Cann scored on a 32-yard run to give Golden Sierra a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter. But Mariposa tied the game at 28-all with 1:43 left on a hook-and-lateral pass.
“The receiver ran a curl route and made a great toss,” Hilton said.
In the third quarter, Cann scored on a 65-yard run to give the visiting Grizzlies a 21-14 lead before the host Grizzlies answered to tie the score.
Grizzly running back Austin Burrows scored on a 1-yard dive play to give Golden Sierra a 14-7 lead. But Mariposa responded with another touchdown to tie the game at 14-all.
Mariposa started the game by scoring on the game’s opening kickoff in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Golden Sierra countered and marched down the field 80 yards on its ensuing drive, capped by a Cann 3-yard run.
“It was a fun game,” Hilton said. “Nobody had more than a one-touchdown lead. The win was very exciting for our team. What an incredible high school football game.”
Per CIF bylaws, if a high school football game is tied after four quarters, each team gets the ball at its opponents’ 10 yard line. Each team has four chances to score a touchdown or field goal. If the team that gets the ball first scores first, its opponent must score to equal or exceed its opponents’ score. If both teams score the same number of points each in the first overtime, they play another overtime quarter until a winner is declared.
Golden Sierra’s game day started at 12:30 p.m. when players, coaches and cheerleaders boarded a bus for the four-hour trek. The Grizzlies stopped in Modesto for a team meal, and arrived in Mariposa close to 5:30 p.m. After the win, some players and their families spent the night in Mariposa. Hilton and his assistant coaches rode back home with players and cheerleaders, stopped for a late-night dinner in Merced and arrived in Garden Valley Saturday at 3 a.m.
Golden Sierra will play Le Grand (11-0) for the D-V title. The Bulldogs beat Southern League foe Waterford, 31-3, in the other semifinal game.
In 1994, Golden Sierra lost to Bear River, 3-0, in the section’s D-III title game played at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.