Dragons lose to Grizzlies

Delta Charter junior Jathen Cain (right) pulls down a pass reception in front of a Golden Sierra defender on Saturday at Elias Gamez Memorial Field.

Golden Sierra 54, Delta Charter 6

The Delta Charter football team entered a new phase this week, playing its first game since the resignation of founding coach Jeff Tilton.

On Saturday, the Dragons took a 54-6 loss to visiting Golden Sierra High of Garden Valley to wrap up their homecoming week. It was the first game with defensive coordinator John Griggs as head coach, and afterward he said the Dragons suddenly have to regroup.

On Wednesday, Tilton announced that a back injury from a backpacking trip in the summer of 2018 had led to four surgeries, and pain from that injury affected him all last year into this year. By the time preseason games started, he was confident that the Dragons had a strong enough coaching staff that the assistant coaches would be capable of taking over.

“It’s tough to lose him, but, yes, it was a surprise,” Griggs said. “Right now, we’re just taking inventory and seeing what we’re going to go forward with. We haven’t made any major changes.”

The Dragons did change their offensive strategy, bringing senior D.J. Ramirez in as starting quarterback to take advantage of senior Kea’Sean Johnson’s receiving skills and junior Jathen Cain’s speed.

In spite of the loss, there were bright spots. Ramirez passed for 69 yards on 14 of 22 attempts, and late in the first quarter, senior Robert Cancilla came in for one play and completed a pass up the middle to Cain, who scrambled through the Golden Sierra defense for a 60-yard touchdown.

“It’s encouraging because of how our team responded to how we lost our head coach to back surgeries,” Cain said. “We all fought to 100%.”

Cain finished the day with 29 yards rushing on five runs, and he totaled 87 yards receiving on six catches.

“When we did running plays, we weren’t able to get across the line very much, but now that we have passing plays, we can get down the field faster, and that’s going to help us in the future,” Cain said.

Ramirez also completed seven passes to Johnson for 25 yards. Ramirez said it was his first time playing quarterback, but he felt confident going into Saturday’s game.

“I have good trust in my receivers. We put in a new offense this week and I think we executed pretty well,” he said.

Golden Sierra totaled 361 yards of offense, with senior quarterback Ayden Nordby completing 5 of 6 passes for 112 yards, and eight players combining for 249 yards rushing.

The Grizzlies scored in the first quarter after junior Bryan McCoard tipped a pass, caught it, and ran the ball back 40 yards before Delta Charter senior Elias Martinez brought him down on the 7-yard line. Golden Sierra junior Seth Archer ran the ball in for a touchdown on the next play.

Golden Sierra needed just four plays on their next possession to score, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from Nordby to Archer.

The Dragons scored their only touchdown after that. The Grizzlies answered with a 36-yard touchdown run by Nordby, making it a 21-6 game at the end of the first quarter. Golden Sierra scored twice in the second quarter, on a 1-yard run by senior Robert Reed and a 29-yard pass from Nordby to Reed, to take a 35-6 lead.

The Dragons then covered 70 yards on seven plays, including a 44-yard run by Cain, at the end of the second quarter. At the end of the drive, Cain took a pass from Ramirez and the Golden Sierra defenders tackled him at the goal line. Officials ruled that Cain was short of the touchdown, and the Dragons fumbled the ball away on the next play to end the first half.

The Grizzlies' two third-quarter touchdowns came on a 3-yard run by junior Alex Sewell and a 35-yard run by junior Brennen Howard, and Golden Sierra junior Devin Lake scored in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run. Nordby made 6 of 7 point-after kicks, and Archer also made a point-after kick.

Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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