It was as thrilling as a football championship could be, no matter what level of play.
The Nevada Union Jr. Miners rallied from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit, scoring 15-straight points in less then five minutes to win the 2013 Sierra Valley USA Championship game over cross county rival Bear River.
“That was an incredible moment, it really was,” said new Jr. Miners president Mike Meyer.
It was the program’s first championship since 1994, and many hope it is just the beginning of a bright future for the long standing youth football program.
“After coming off a championship year at the highest level, the midgets, we were hoping it would spark the interest of the community,” new midget head coach Jason Spillner said. “Show that the right coaching staffs are in place, and we’re hopefully getting these kids prepared for the high school level. That’s our ultimate goal. Put the right coaches in the right positions and have the parents, the community and the kids be motivated knowing that we are trying to put the pieces to puzzle together early that way when they are freshman they are off and running.”
Spillner inherits a team far different than the championship team a year ago as the 2013 jr. midgets didn’t win a game, but with every new season comes revitalized optimism.
“Coming into this year we knew we had an uphill battle right away,” Spillner said. “We only had 14 kids finish the year at the jr. midget level last year. We have 20 now and ultimately our goal is just do exactly what we did last year.”
The midgets do have their star running back from a year ago back as Dawson Fay will once again be toting the pigskin for the Jr. Miners. Fay had 132 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a kick return for a touchdown in the 2013 championship game.
“Beast,” Spillner said. “He’s an absolute beast. He’s probably one of the best backs to come through this program since A.J. Kunkle.”
Whether or not the midgets are bound for another title or not, the main mission for the Jr. Miners program is create quality young people, said Meyer.
“I played a lot of sports as a child and I know how important sports are for the development of young men,” he said. “The one thing I would like these kids to leave our program with is being great young men and women. Thats it. If they win fantastic. If they have fun and become better young men and women, then we’ve done our job.”
Meyer, who has been an assistant coach and the football coordinator in his four years with the program, said one of his goals this season is to bring more attention to the Jr. Miners’ cheer program.
Helping Meyer achieve that goal is new vice president Brandy Sanders.
“We just want to teach our girls you can have fun being a girly girl and still teach the importance of being healthy, being smart, making great choices,” she said.
The cheer program has seen increased enrollment this year and Sanders said she hopes that continues.
“I would love to see our cheer program grow, I just want there to be an opportunity for them to do something they want,” she said. “I want them to walk away knowing about healthy eating and being physically fit and walk away feeling good about themselves.”
While cheerleading enrollment is up, the football enrollment was down slightly this year, said Meyer.
Meyer said he went to foster agencies, boys and girls clubs and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to advocate the youth football program, offering scholarships for anyone who wanted to play that maybe couldn’t for financial reasons.
“I think this is the one sport where you can develop discipline and it’s OK,” Meyer said. “These kids need an outlet but also great mentorship and we can offer that.”
The Miners open their nine-game regular season at 9 a.m. today when they host the Yuba City Jr. Honkers at Hooper Stadium.
For more information on the Jr. Miners program visit www.nujuniorminers.org, or find them on Facebook.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.