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Territorial Dispatch

Huskies Defense Holds Off Late Push by Hawks

Nov 15, 2023 03:29PM ● By Steven Bryla, photos by Steven Bryla
Sutter junior linebacker Brandon Dobson (10) makes a tackle in the Huskies 14-7 victory over Liberty Ranch on Thursday, November 9.

SUTTER, CA (MPG) - The Sutter Union Huskies football team advanced to the semifinals of the California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs after a 14-7 victory over the Liberty Ranch Hawks on Thursday, November 9.

The win last Thursday continued the tradition of the football program playing into the second half of November as Sutter has made it to the semifinals of the Section playoffs dating back to every season since 2007 and excluding the fall of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the final score showed the Huskies with a seven-point victory, the game could have easily been blown wide open as a couple of Sutter touchdowns were called back due to penalties throughout the game.

The first quarter of the game was scoreless and it was a defensive battle between both squads before the game moved into a flurry of penalty flags favoring one team over another 9-1.

The Huskies scored early in the second quarter when senior quarterback Jagger Beck found senior tight end Trenton Duchene in the back-left corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Beck threw the ball for 134 yards in the air and completed seven passes on the night. His favorite target in the game was senior wide receiver Jordan Lee who caught three passes for 100 yards in the game.

The Sutter offense struggled as they had well more than 100 yards less than they averagely do per game throughout the season.

The Huskies have thrown the ball more this season than they did last year by 60 plus pass attempts and Sutter head coach Ryan Reynolds told the Dispatch that plays are there for the balls with the potential of being caught, but they are just not falling.

The defenses shut down the rest of the first half and Sutter sophomore safety Max Bringgold collected eighth interception of the season, which was tied for first in the SJS following the conclusion of game play of last week.

Auckland Asiata running back Liberty Ranch

Sutter senior defensive end Auckland Asiata (44) tackles Liberty Ranch junior running back Joseph Brown (6) in the open field in the Huskies 14-7 victory over the Hawks on Thursday, November 9.

Huskies senior defensive back Rylan Giovannoni returned the second half kickoff to the house for a touchdown, but an excessive block penalty negated the score and backed up Sutter deep in their own territory.

Sutter extended their lead to 14 late in the third as junior quarterback Sammy Sharma scored on a 4-yard rushing touchdown.

The Huskies defense has been terrorizing opposing offenses all season and Reynolds told the Dispatch they wouldn’t be where they are without them.

Reynolds added the defensive staff and defensive coordinator Matt Schamanski consistently do a great job on getting them ready week in and week out.

Liberty Ranch was going to come in and run the ball with no questions and Reynolds and his staff knew it from the jump.

The Hawks junior running back Joseph Brown averaged 131 yards per game rushing as Liberty Ranch came into the game and Sutter shut him down to 59 yards on 19 rushes.

The big defensive line of Huskies senior lineman that include California State University, Fresno commit Auckland Asiata, Tristan Leal and Eric St. Onge.

The three combined for 27 total tackles where six were for a loss, and Asiata also caused a fumble early into the fourth quarter.

Leal expressed to the Dispatch that he feels like they (defensive line) are the spirit of the defense and they have a requirement to uphold.

“We have a threshold where we need to be and if we let that go, we're letting our defense down,” Leal said.

Sutter Tristan Leal Eric St Onge Huskies Liberty Ranch

Sutter senior defensive lineman Tristan Leal (52) and Eric St. Onge (45) make a tackle in the Huskies 14-7 win over Liberty Ranch on Thursday, November 9.

Asiata added they work together as a collective unit to get past opposing offensive lines and are there to back one another up on every play.

Liberty Ranch blocked a Beck punt with eight minutes to go in the game to have great field position on the Sutter 43-yard line.

Brown cut the Huskies lead in half with a little less than four minutes to in the game and on the next defensive possession forced Sutter to punt.

The Hawks had great field position to make a game winning drive but the Huskies defense shut the door and sealed the win.

Sutter hosts the Hughson Huskies of the Trans Valley League from the southern part of the SJS tonight at 7 p.m.

Hughson finished third in the league behind Escalon (No. 1 seed in D-IV) and Hilmar (No. 3 seed in D-V). Hughson defeated Colfax 54-13 last Friday in the quarterfinals.