After giving up 27 points in a season opening loss, the Pierce defense has righted the ship, holding its opponents to an average of 10 points over the last five games.
And that trend continued last Friday night in Trowbridge, as the Bears turned in its best effort of the season to date, propelling them to a 7-6 victory over East Nicolaus in a Sacramento Valley League contest.
It was a performance that more than pleased Pierce head coach Anthony Tapia, especially since his team has been prone to giving up the big play this season.
“Our defense played incredibly,” Tapia said. “We kept their offense off the board for four quarters, and I’m really proud of our guys being able to contain their run game.”
Leading the defensive effort was Iain Kalfsbeek, who finished with 10 tackles and two sacks, while Brandon Saavedra also played well, registering three sacks on the night.
Kaden Davis also turned in a noteworthy performance, making five tackles, four of which were for losses, as did Armando Ramirez, who had an interception and, according to Tapia, provided excellent coverage in the secondary.
While the Spartans did put six points on the board, it didn’t come against Bear defense, but rather as East Nicolaus capitalized on a Pierce fumble, turning it into a 90-yard scoop and score in the first quarter.
Still, Pierce needed to score to come away with the win and did just that in the second quarter, when a 23-yard run by Kalfsbeek set the stage for Manuel Lopez to make his way into the end zone from four yards out.
Ultimately, however, the game came down to the extra point, which Ryan Travis drilled through the uprights for what proved to be the difference.
Lopez had another strong showing, carrying 22 times for 91 yards, but overall the Bear offense struggled once again with turnovers and couldn’t find its rhythm.
With the win, Pierce (4-2, 2-0) sits tied with Paradise atop the SVL, going into this week’s homecoming game against Live Oak. ■