Friday marks the start of a new era for the Sierra football program.

For the first time in the school’s 35-year existence, the Stallions will defend their own turf on campus as they host The Classical Academy .

“I remember being a student here and wanting to play our games here,” said Sierra coach and 2005 alumnus Draye Ersery. “It wasn’t our generation that got it, but it was the following one, so I’m happy about that.”

Ersery hopes Friday’s kickoff will be the start of another building season, fresh off a 3-7 2018 record — the program’s best mark since 2014.

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“We’re definitely excited about playing on our own turf, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win it,” Ersery said. “You could play anywhere, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win it.”

Ersery said the Stallions’ first task will be no easy feat.

“You can’t go by TCA, you have to go through them,” Ersery said.

Last year TCA claimed a 27-13 victory that Titan coach Justin Rich remembers well.

“They gave us everything we could handle in Week 4 last year and we were lucky to get out with a win,” Rich said. “I would imagine they will be pretty motivated playing at home.”

TCA returns to the gridiron with a veteran offensive and defensive line and last year’s second-leading rusher, Hunter Christopherson. The Titans will have a new man under center with the team’s 2017 kicker, Hayden Cooper, moving to quarterback. Cooper missed 2018 due to injury, but Rich has high expectations for his return.

“He’s a gifted athlete and one of those guys that is just really good at anything athletically,” Rich said. “Kickers, usually they’re an athletic anomaly and Hayden is the same.”

Rich said if everything clicks for the Titans, “it could be a fun year,” but Friday will be the real test.

“At this time with a new group you always kind of wonder what you have,” Rich said. “In the offseason you can be confident you have something good going, but now you get to go against somebody else to find out.”

Sierra quarterback Toby Tuatoo returns after his sophomore season in which he threw for 673 yards, joined by last year’s leading rusher and tackler Elijah Smith. In 2018 Smith had 955 rushing yards, 188 receiving and led the team with 90 tackles, including 14 for a loss.

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