Trailblazers open with 9-7 victory
The Sierra Canyon football team returned the favor Friday night in the 2023 season opener against JSerra of San Juan Capistrano.
After a tough road setback last year, Sierra Canyon turned the tables and came away with a closer than expected 9-7 nonleague victory in the season opener for both teams in Chatsworth.
JSerra had the ball last and was driving for a potential game-winning field goal but the stout Sierra Canyon defense came through and forced a long wild pass from Michael Tollefson from near midfield that didn’t even come close to the end zone as the clock hit all zeros.
“It was ugly,” Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse said. “We will take it. Any win is a good win. We have some things to clean up and we will. Our defense was great and is ahead of the offense right now.”
JSerra’s only touchdown came when Tollefson connected with Axel Olander on a broken play from 32 yards out down the right sideline in the third quarter to make it the final margin.
Sierra Canyon took over with five-plus minutes remaining and gained two crucial first downs before JSerra used its timeouts wisely and finally stopped the Trailblazers on its third opportunity. But with less than 90 seconds remaining and no timeouts. JSerra was up against it for the comeback.
“Both teams were sloppy and both teams made some plays,” Ellinghouse said. “Week zero is tough. It’s the first time out there. We expect to get better and play much better in the coming weeks.”
Wyatt Becker completed 13 of 16 passes for 189 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Mitchell for Sierra Canyon.
Dane Dunn gained 74 yards on 17 carries for the Trailblazers.
Sierra Canyon’s receiver crew looked fantastic.
Mirchell caught four passes for 32 yards and UCLA-bound Kwazi Gilmer had two catches for 21 yards. USC-bound Xavier Jordan didn’t suit up, pending paperwork issues. Jordan is expected to be available next week.
Terrell “Choppa” Cooks caught four passes for 57 yards and Jae’on Young had two receptions for 43 yards.
Sierra Canyon had two miscues on punt returns. JSerra recovered fumbles each time.
Tollefson was 8 of 18 for 30 yards and gained 40 yards on 22 carries. Tollefson was sacked nearly 10 times.
George Perez rushed for 20 yards on 14 carries for JSerra, which knocked off Sierra Canyon last year after trailing by 10 points at halftime.
Shayne Daly missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
A bad snap on a punt attempt early in the first quarter gave Sierra Canyon a 2-0 lead, the margin of the final score.
JSerra was penalized 11 times for 93 yards. Sierra Canyon was only a tad better with 10 miscues for 65 yards.
Sierra Canyon has another tough test next week at Oaks Christian, a big winner against Chaminade.