It took Sierra quarterback Fernando Gutierrez most of the first quarter to finally get his feet under him. In the meantime, he got plenty of help from his running game and a dominating defensive effort.
Will Nelson scored touchdowns on his only three carries, Gutierrez added a touchdown pass, and the Sierra defense recorded six sacks, forced four turnovers and allowed only 23 total yards in a 58-0 drubbing of Middle Park on Saturday at Harrison's Memorial Stadium.
Gutierrez misfired on his first seven attempts in a Sierra uniform, then finally ended the drought by connecting with Darrion Pyos on a 76-yard strike with 2:37 left in the first quarter, as 3A Sierra had its way with Middle Park, a 2A playoff team in 2012.
"It was the first game, and I was a little nervous and ready to go," said the junior, who completed 3-of-10 passes for 114 yards. "You get a little antsy, wanting to get rid of the ball and score. Now, we can go back to practice and get everything set and get the completion rates up. We had a good win, but we have to go back to practice and grind again."
The Stallions (1-0) received the opening kickoff and went 70 yards, all on the ground, on nine plays. Maleek Spencer covered the final 34 yards, taking a handoff around the right end and outrunning the secondary.
After the next two drives stalled, Sierra made it 14-0 on a Daevon Marshall 27-yard interception return. After Louis Vigil intercepted Middle Park quarterback Hugh Campbell on the ensuing possession, the Stallions scored touchdowns on their next five possessions in blowing out to a 51-0 lead by halftime.
"We were outmatched," said Panthers coach Adam Bright. "They hit us in the mouth and we didn't recover. Practicing for 10 days, with all new systems and without a scrimmage, this was the hardest scrimmage we could have possibly had."
While Sierra cranked out 399 total yards, it was the defense that impressed second-year Stallions coach Dean Huffman the most.
"The defense was much improved," said Huffman, whose defensive unit allowed an average of 31.6 points last season. "It was a big defensive win, something we needed."
Nelson didn't seem terribly concerned that the Sierra passing game didn't click. There's always next game.
"A win is a win," said the junior, whose team is off next week but plays 4A Mesa Ridge on Sept. 6. "We'll look at the film and see what we can improve on."