Sierra flips quarterback switch

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Sierra College’s depth chart has become an Etch a Sketch, and head coach Jeff Tisdel is shaking it. Tisdel moves deserving players into starting jobs and erases those no longer worthy. Last week’s new starter was Zack Graves at running back. This week’s will be Tanner Mathias at quarterback. Sam Martinez will join Josh Dupree on the sideline when Sierra travels to Diablo Valley on Friday night. Dupree was displaced by Graves after Sierra’s 27-7 loss to Butte in Oroville on Sept. 11. Martinez lost his job last Saturday as Sierra (1-1) roared back in its home opener to beat Sacramento City 45-16. He did not produce a touchdown and gave one away before being hooked. Six interceptions in six quarters, including two returned for touchdowns, was Martinez’s undoing. Tisdel pulled the plug even though he did not want Martinez “to think I was giving up on him.” Mathias replaced Martinez on Sierra’s final possession of the first half and misfired on three of his four passes. The Wolverines trailed 16-3 at halftime and were in need of a spark. It came on the sixth play of the third quarter when Mathias lofted a 32-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Schablaske. The scoring pass was the first of five for Mathias, who threw for 292 yards. Schablaske had 10 receptions for 241 yards and three touchdowns. His starting position is safe. Tisdel has no intention of rotating quarterbacks, so the job is Mathias’ as long as he can keep it. Mathias has been biding his time since arriving at Sierra in 2009, so he is no hurry to relinquish it. “If I got a chance in a game, I told Tisdel that I’d be ready for it,” Mathias said. “This is everything I’ve put 10 years into. When I finally got a shot, I knew I couldn’t mess up.” Mathias knows all too well that Tisdel has a short leash and an even shorter fuse. Tisdel ran out of patience with Martinez last season and dismissed the freshman from offensive drills. To make himself useful, Martinez played linebacker on the scout defense. He asked Tisdel for a second chance at quarterback in the spring and was third on the depth chart. That was then. Mathias’ perseverance has paid off. Even Tisdel had to admit he is impressed. “His attitude never wavered,” Tisdel said. “He got a break and he did it.”