In the Huddle: Nevada Union back in playoffs after tough 2010 | TheUnion.com

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In the Huddle: Nevada Union back in playoffs after tough 2010

This is the time of year that Nevada Union football savors. Although the regular season proves a lot of points, it is the postseason, the playoffs, where the meddle of any Nevada Union squad is truly evaluated.

Last year was a frustrating campaign. The Miners went 0-5 in the Sierra Foothill League. Their early departure left the team disappointed. Although they were in almost every game, the 2010 version of NU football discovered a way to lose each game.

There were those, following narrow losses to Granite Bay and Del Oro, who felt that 2011 might be a replay. However, this is a different team playing at a different level.

A big win over Roseville was followed by a strong performance versus Woodcreek. The regular season was capped with an overtime victory against Rocklin. With all due respect, the regular SFL season must quickly become a distant memory. It was only the vehicle to get the team to tonight.

The Miners emerged as the eighth of 16 seeds. This allows them to open at home. They will most likely be afforded this one matchup at Hooper Stadium. The run to the Sac-Joaquin Section championship will largely be determined on the road for Nevada Union.

This is not new to Nevada Union football. There are certain seasons when the journey was even more arduous. Yet, this edition of Miner football is well aware of what it will take to go deep into the playoffs.

Kyle Cota missed the better part of two games this season with a concussion. As some counted him out, Cota utilized the bye-week to get it on track. He will lead the offense at quarterback. There is no doubt as to his talent. His percentages have been positive all season.

Reflecting on his injury, he said, “I love this game. There is no way I am going to stop playing football.”

As to the playoffs, he offered, “This is a good team with lots of good, skilled players. We still have not played to our potential. I feel good about the postseason. I feel we can play against any team and do well.”

Offensive lineman Eli Butcher has spent a lot of time honing his game in 2011. He knows that in order to capture the title and have a crack at the California Bowl, the team’s performance must be at its peak.

“We are still improving each week,” he said. “We have taken things more seriously since the Elk Grove loss. We have the ability to adapt to any team.

“However, this is do-or-die. Everyone is watching you now. It is nice to have a home game in the playoffs.”

Cameron Townsend has enjoyed a good season. He has improved as the schedule has progressed. He is well respected by his teammates. Yet, the postseason is where this team’s true skills will be measured.

“You up the level of intensity,” said Townsend. “You know that if you lose, the season is over. You get more into each game. It all matters a bit more.”

Alec Sarner is a senior. For him, these next several games are vital. For better or for worse, the postseason will go a long ways toward defining his high school football career. He has been a steady performer at center all year.

He is very deliberate as he observes, “We showed how we can come together. We took Rocklin a bit lightly, but we also learned how to win as a team. When we play together, we are very capable. We need to continue to up our game.”

The offensive line talks about how Kyle Cota and Connor Keith have been highly inspirational. They are quick to speak of Tanner Vallejo and the role he has played both defensively and offensively. All three are stand outs. Although Keith’s season is done, Cota and Vallejo will have a lot to say about this evening’s outcome.

For the Miners, tonight hopefully will be the first step rather than the last. They know that Franklin represents a challenge. While the offensive line realizes its role in securing victory, it is the defense that will be tasked with containing Franklin’s running game.

Yet there is no doubt that there is a lot more at stake these days. The postseason is gut-check time. The curtain is raised on the real season in a few hours. For the Miners, tonight represents the return on an investment of months of hard work.

The focus is totally on tonight. There is no looking ahead to the what-might-be factors. It is the first game in which this team determines the course of the weeks ahead.

And although this home game is a pleasant luxury, the time to take care of business is now. A victory only ensures that the Miners get a shot at it again next week. For now, however, this week is everything.

Jim Adams lives in Nevada City, is a regular contributor to The Union and a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via e-mail at adamses@inreach.com.