Bears blast Esparto to open season
Oscar Sanchez walked off Greg Lemaster Field, proudly carrying the Pierce flag, and led his team on their victorious walk to the locker room after heading Pierce's 33-0 dismantling of visiting Esparto.
On Friday, Sanchez earned the right to be the color guard for the Blue and Gold.
The senior set the standard on defense with three interceptions in the game and carried out Pierce's triple-option attack in devastating fashion from the quarterback position. While the offense - predicated on speed and deception - was not without its glitches early on, the Bears found their footing and Sanchez at times looked to be a mix of Usain Bolt and Harry Houdini, making plays with his legs and carrying out fakes which fooled both the opposing defense and occasionally the announcer in the press box.
For most of the first quarter, it looked as if the fans in Arbuckle would have a close game on their hands. Esparto started the game with the ball and managed to convert a couple first downs before Pierce's defense dug in on their side of the 50, forcing a punt.
On the ensuing possession, the offense made their way to Esparto's 22-yard line, but a false start and bobbled snap derailed their promising opening drive. Juan Padilla's field goal fell short of the crossbar and Pierce failed to come away with points.
After another Esparto punt left the Bears with great starting field position, sophomore Garrett Brainard rattled off a big 10- yard run, and a personal foul on the play tacked on an additional 15, placing the ball at the 17-yard line.
Sanchez nearly went the distance on a 16-yard quarterback keeper after the penalty, but came up just short. Again, a false start pushed the Bears back and threatened to stall the drive, but Saul Mendez made sure that didn't happen by barreling his way in for a 3-yard touchdown.
After that, it was all Pierce - and a lot of Sanchez. The quarterback scored from 5 yards out on a keeper, and on the following defensive series showed good discipline and great hands, grabbing his first interception of the night on a halfback pass. Brainard also found the end zone early in the first half, scoring from 8 yards out.
Up three scores, with his defense playing well and his offense coming to life, coach Scott Burnum kept the pedal to the floor and stopped the clock with a pair of timeouts on Esparto's last drive of the half, hoping to secure one more possession before the gun sounded.
Sanchez apparently wanted another crack at the Spartan's defense, too, and went up to grab his second interception of the night with 1:22 left in the second quarter. Pierce's offense was unable to convert the turnover into points, however, as a Sanchez Hail Mary fell incomplete as time expired. The Bears led 20-0 at the half, but the margin could have been bigger. Penalties hurt them early, most notably a flag for an illegal shift which negated a 46-yard Adolfo Ramirez touchdown in the first quarter.
Pierce fumbled away their opening possession after receiving the ball to start the second half, and it looked as if Esparto might get the break they desperately needed to get back into the game. Instead, Sanchez grabbed his third interception, ensuring that the Bears would remain firmly in the driver's seat.
Pierce never looked back.
Ramirez found pay dirt by way of another long run, this time of 25 yards, in the third quarter. Soon after, David Castaneda added a defensive highlight by blocking an Esparto punt.
With the game out of reach, Jake Voorhees replaced Oscar Sanchez at quarterback to start the fourth quarter. Pierce, however, was not yet finished scoring. Mendez added a touchdown in the fourth - rumbling in from the 7- yard line - to bring his total to two.
Pierce's defense remained stout from beginning to end, completing the shutout to secure the 33-0 win. Castaneda and Joe Howard led the team with eight tackles apiece.
Friday the Bears (1-0) travel to Hamilton City to face the Braves.