Sierra Canyon rallies to defeat Warren in a thriller > Dogecointool

Sierra Canyon rallies to defeat Warren in a thriller

This was a realization of Kevin Pearson’s vision.

Three years ago, the incoming Warren football coach sat down with his staff and they had a mission. They wanted to move out of Division 7. They wanted to be ranked in the top of the state. They wanted, as Pearson said, “to play with the big boys.”

And three years later, they’d lost just two games during the last three seasons, a Division 2 program with a five-star Tennessee commit at quarterback in Nico Iamaleava who garners headlines everywhere he goes. But Friday night’s Division 2 opening-round playoff game against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was still a proving ground of sorts — that Warren could stack up to one of the gold standards of private-school athletics in Southern California.

“Now, we’re here,” Pearson said Thursday. “Now, we have the opportunity to prove that we belong — or we still got a lot of work to do.”

Verdict: They belong.

In the face of a loud crowd at Sierra Canyon’s first playoff game at its new stadium, the Bears matched the Trailblazers blow for blow but didn’t have enough in the end, losing 22-21.

Pinned at their own one-yard-line with six minutes to play, the Trailblazers, trailing 21-14, moved to midfield and were facing a fourth and 16. As all hope seemed lost, quarterback Alonzo Esparza rolled left and fired a deep ball to Phillips — who made a leaping 43-yard grab plus a pass-interference call. As the Trailblazers kept moving, Esparza flipped a pass to Jaylen’Dai Sumlin in the left corner of the end zone, then completed a conversion to defensive end Cameron Brandt to put Sierra Canyon up 22-21.

It initially appeared like the Bears didn’t stand a chance against Dane Dunn and the Trailblazers’ dynamic offense, the sophomore running back shredding the Bears on an initial drive before Esparza ducked and floated a 22-yard touchdown to BYU commit Josiah Phillips. Sierra Canyon took a 7-0 lead — not a minute and a half into the game.

But Warren running back Romeo Clark took a handoff on the next play, bursting through the left side for a 38-yard touchdown. When Dunn punched in a second-quarter score, Iamaleava marched Warren down the field, and Marcus Higgs ran it in for another touchdown.

In the third quarter, after Iamaleava was dragged down for a 14-yard sack and senior linebacker Xavier White snuffed a Warren punt, the Trailblazers seemed poised to gain control but Terrell Cooks Jr. fumbled at the two-yard-line.

Iamaleava pulled the Bears down the field and into the end zone with a short dart to Jordan Ross.

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