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Spring Fling

After super season, Sierra looks to '08
By: Mike Ray
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ROCKLIN — Now in his 21st year of coaching football at the collegiate level Jeff Tisdel is certain of one thing: nothing is certain. That can especially be said at the junior college level where year-to- year athletes can come and go through a program like a one-way swinging door. But entering his 8th year as the head coach at Sierra College in Rocklin, Tisdel has built the Wolverines into a by-product of stability that has once again transpired into the Rocklin gridders looking for bigger and better things in 2008. “We had a great spring,” said Tisdel who in seven seasons at Sierra is 61-15 with four conference titles and six bowl appearances. “The kids had a great attitude and we’re looking forward to the summer and fall.” The last time we caught up with Tisdel and the Wolverines, Sierra was coming off perhaps one of the most decorated seasons in school annals. In 2007, playing in only their second season in Div. I, the Wolverines captured their first ever Valley Conference championship going 5-0 and defeating the likes of perennial powers Reedley, Fresno City and College of Sequoias. Taking its season into December for the first time, Sierra went 9-2 and finished as the No. 2 ranked team in Northern California after falling to eventual California Community College state champion City College of San Francisco, 24-10, in the Nor Cal Championship Hawaiian Punch Bowl. “There’s no doubt that last year’s team was special,” said Tisdel. “But the kids this year know that they can’t rest on their laurels. We have to move on.” Several key players from the ’07 Wolverines squad have departed Rocklin including standout wide receiver Carl Moore who snagged 68 balls for 978 yards and 16 touchdowns and will play this season for Urban Meyer at Florida. Tisdel also has to replace two-year starter Kevin Will at quarterback. The Del Oro product completed 56 per cent of his passes throwing for 2,389 yards and 26 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions. “We lost a lot of experience but in that same area we have a lot coming back too,” Tisdel added. Expected to be in the spotlight this season for the Wolverines is sophomore running back Lamon Muldrow. The 5-9 210 pound running back out of Cordova had a banner ’07 campaign when he led all state JC rushers with 1,688 yards and 19 touchdowns. A rugged runner who isn’t afraid to pick up the tough yards between the tackles, Muldrow already has Pac-10 scholarship offers by both Arizona and Washington State. “Lamon’s in great shape,” said Tisdel. “He was a workhorse for us last year.” Expected to provide much of the blocking for Muldrew next season are a bevy of returnees on the offensive line including Sheldon products Sam Kelly (6-6 320) and David Peterson (6-3, 300), tight end Wayne Lee (6-3, 250) of Wheatland and Brett Gorrell (6-1, 240) of Laguna Creek. Tisdel is also looking to bolster the O-line with a promising group of freshman led by Macos Benetiz (6-1, 285) of Oak Ridge, Charlie Lepori (6-2, 280) of Manogue of Reno, Nate Perez (6-2, 260) of Union Mine, Mike Cody (6-3 245) of Colfax, John Tupou (6-7, 315) of Elk Grove and Adam Harmon (6-5, 305) of Foothill. “We’ll have a good combination of returning players and youth on the line,” said Tisdel. “I like the size of these guys.” Tisdel noted that the quarterback spot is up for grabs when fall practice begins between red-shirt freshman Alex Rump of Colfax and incoming frosh Will Olsen (Whitney) and Kevin O’Brien (Rocklin). Rump, who ran a similar offensive system to Sierra’s while at Colfax, threw for 2,792 yards and 30 touchdowns for the Falcons in his senior season. He may have the inside track because of his knowledge of the offense. Looking to pick up the slack in the absence of Moore and Ryan Hedberg (58x966) in the receiving department are returnee Drake Ussery (Ponderosa), red-shirt freshman Justin Chastain (Colfax), West Hills transfer Isiah Bennett and newcomers Brandon Michalkiewiez (Granite Bay) Ronnie Pellum (Woodcreek), Rashad Hines (Mesa Verde), Mike Makela (Del Oro) and C.J. Woodbury (Foothill). Defensively the Wolverines look to be rock-solid once again with the linebacker corps of Ronnie Davidson (Colfax), Chris Briasco (Colfax), Joey Jacinto (Placer) and Bryson Littlejohn (Laguna Creek) returning intact. Also back in the Sierra defensive fold are team interception leader Michael Grant (Laguna Creek), safety Michael Springer (Union Mine) and defensive line starters Isaiah Coates (6-3, 305) of Rio Linda and Gary Cole (6-3, 245) of Gig Harbor, Washington. Tisdel also expects incoming freshman Sitani Tupou (6-4, 240) of Center, defensive back Houston Roots (Rio Linda), nose guard Joe Williams (Elk Grove), linebacker Shawn Allen (Roseville) and Menlo College transfer Anthony Bendana (Oak Ridge) at safety also to have an impact. Whoever merges as the key players for the Wolverines this year will be challenged as Sierra faces perhaps its toughest regular season schedule which includes six home games and a rematch in Rocklin on Sat. Sept. 20 against City College of San Francisco. “We have a very strong schedule this season,” said Tisdel. “Now we have to prepare ourselves for that challenge.” Sierra College Football - 2008 Schedule DayDateOpponentLocationTimeResultsSatSep 6Diablo Valley CollegeSierra1 pm SatSep 13Sacramento City CollegeSierra1 pm SatSep 20City College of San FranciscoSierra1 pm SatSep 27American River CollegeSacramento1 pm SatOct 4College of San MateoSan Mateo1 pm Sat Oct 11BYE Sat Oct 18*San Joaquin Delta CollegeSierra1 pm SatOct 25*West Hills CollegeCoalinga1 pm SatNov 1*Fresno City CollegeSierra1 pm SatNov 8*Reedley CollegeReedley2 pm SatNov 15*College of the SequoiasSierra1 pm * Valley Conference games