The improvement of the Turlock Christian High varsity football program was evident in Thursday’s league opener when the Eagles hosted Sierra Ridge in the Central California Athletic Alliance opener.
Head coach Jake Von Scherrer and the Eagles had fallen to Sierra Ridge in a 66-0 blowout just a year prior, but this time, with a year under their belt, they performed better than the opposition expected.
Although in the first play of the game, TC fumbled the ball away and after a turnover on downs play, Sierra Ridge notched the opening score before TC’s Manny Preciado scored the Eagles only touchdown to tie it at 8-8 after the first half concluded.
Unfortunately, the offense for TC was stagnant for the remainder of the game and the defense was on the field for majority of the second half and eventually the Eagles lost it, 20-8.
“We are a different team than what we were last year,” Preciado said. “We work harder and work on our positions and lift each other up.”
“Defensively, I thought we played a heck of a game but they just ran the ball and we couldn’t get them off the field,” TC head coach Jake von Scherrer said. “If you rush for three yards on four downs then you will always get the first down.”
Sierra Ridge finished the first half with 134 total yards of offense while TC accumulated only 22 yards.
Preciado had 21 of those yards after just two carries in the first series. This would be the only action for Preciado for the remainder of the game but he made a statement on the defensive side of the ball.
After three scoreless drives to begin the game, Sierra Ridge was driving the ball and from the 13-yard-line and with 10:40 left till the half, Preciado picked off Tyler Nollen and returned it the opposite way for an 87-yard touchdown return.
“I was just running for my life… it’s the first pick in a long time so I liked it, it was a big adrenaline rush, I loved it… all thanks to God though,” Preciado said.
The two-point conversion was good after Jakob Skinner found Desmond Barron for the tying score.
Despite some great plays on defense, including five sacks and two fumble recoveries, Sierra Ridge pounded the ball in the second half, allowing TC to only run 15 total plays in only three drives.
“Offensively we struggled a little bit. We couldn’t get our offense going and they just did not stop running it in the second half,” Von Scherrer said.
Sierra Ridge would eventually score two touchdowns including a 25-yard run from Gregory Smith in the final two minutes that sealed the deal.
“It’s just the defense needed to step up at the end and they just kept pounding the ball and we couldn’t stop them for some reason,” Preciado said. “We will get better for sure. We already improved so much.”