Playoff picture looms as NU faces Davis
Though he knows that a football game some 30 miles away could have as much to do with Nevada Union’s playoff hopes as the matchup the Miners are actually playing Friday night, NU head coach Dave Humphers says his mind won’t be wandering from the sidelines at Davis High School.
Humphers said that until Nevada Union emerges with a Delta Valley Conference win against the host Blue Devils, the DVC clash on the south side of Sacramento won’t mean much to the Miners.
Standing 1-2 in the DVC with two games remaining, the Miners (5-3 overall) must close out the regular season with wins over Davis (4-4, 1-2) tonight and Valley (3-4, 0-3) – a game to be played on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Cosumnes River College.
But to keep a string of seven-consecutive playoff appearances alive, Nevada Union also needs some help.
Three DVC teams will qualify for the postseason, with league-leading Franklin (7-1, 3-0) in the driver’s seat for the inaugural conference championship. Elk Grove (7-1, 2-1) and Laguna Creek (6-2, 2-1) also hold their postseason hopes in their own hands.
But with head-to-head losses against Franklin and Elk Grove this fall, the Miners likely need a loss from Laguna Creek, which NU defeated 42-28 in a fourth-quarter comeback for its lone league victory to this point.
On Friday night, when Nevada Union takes the field with the Blue Devils, Laguna Creek will kick off with Franklin at Cosumnes River College.
“The easiest way to put it is that we need to win out and we need Laguna Creek to lose one game,” Humphers said. “We’re hoping that happens when they play Franklin (tonight).
“But before we can worry about that, we have to win both of our games.”
To do that the Miners must first deal with a Davis team that shares a similar postseason scenario to the Miners. Finishing with two wins would put the Blue Devils in contention for the DVC’s third playoff slot.
Davis started the season by winning three of four, but followed by dropping its next three of four Ð including consecutive DVC losses to Elk Grove (49-26) and Franklin (33-27) the last two weeks.
“They’re good, especially on offense,” Humphers said of the Blue Devils. “They have an outstanding quarterback (Scott Malinoff), who is a playmaker and really just a special player. And they also have a running back (Josh Reese) with nearly a thousand yards and a receiver (Brian Sorenson) who has a bunch of catches.
“So, they’re a good team that we have to be ready for.”
Malinoff, a junior, has thrown for 1,186 yards and 10 touchdowns while also running for 142 yards and three scores. Sorenson, a senior, has been his favorite target with 27 catches for 430 yards. Reese has shouldered the load in the rushing attack, leading the team with 948 yards and nine touchdowns.
Humphers said taking care of the ball on offense will just as important as keeping the Davis offense under wraps Friday night. In Nevada Union’s three losses this season, the Miners have turned the ball over nine times while taking it away twice.
“I think our team has played in periods where we’ve been good enough to beat anybody,” Humphers said. “It’s just a matter of putting together consistent four quarters.
“But, it’s been one of our biggest weaknesses. We’ve got to win the battle of turnovers and take care of the ball better.”
Of course, NU’s three losses also came against teams with just one blemish on their own season records. Del Oro (7-1), Franklin (7-1) and Elk Grove (7-1) all remain in contention for league championships.
Nevada Union opponents have combined for a 44-20 overall record this fall and the Miners own wins over two other teams Ð Granite Bay (7-1) and Laguna Creek (6-2) – also still in contention for a league title.
On the opposite side, Davis has not defeated an opponent that has a winning record this fall. The only team the Blue Devils beat that does not have a losing record is Armijo (4-4). But three of Davis’ losses, like Nevada Union, also came to 7-1 teams (Elk Grove, Vacaville and Franklin).
If Franklin’s DVC-leading Wildcats still have just one loss after squaring off with Laguna Creek tonight Ð and the Miners take care of business against the Blue Devils Ð Nevada Union will be one win short of celebrating an eighth-straight playoff berth.
“The biggest thing the kids need to know is that there’s hope,” Humphers said. “We need some help. But there’s hope.
“I feel like this team is just coming into its own. I just hope it isn’t too late.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
Nevada Union (5-3) at Davis (4-4)
Rushing Ð Nevada Union, Jesse Ettlin 93-672 7 TD, Dave Zealear 106-646 7 TD, Corey Browning 73-477 4 TD, Andrew Metroka 45-165 3 TD, Chad Mason 63-133 4 TD. Davis, Josh Reese 167-948 9 TD, Scott Malinoff 66-142 3 TD, Jake Lubisch 30-137.
Passing Ð Nevada Union, Mason 65-112-2 for 898 yards and 7 TD. Davis, Malinoff 80-150-5 for 1,186 yards and 10 TD.
Receiving Ð Nevada Union, Doug Dolan 17-278 3 TD, Colin Casey 13-156 TD, Zealear 10-136 TD, Wes Plummer 9-136. Davis, Brian Sorenson 27-430 TD, Chris Lundin 19-330 3 TD, Dan Johnson 20-272 3 TD, Mauricio Davidson 11-195 TD.
Defense Ð Nevada Union, Brian Milhous 72 tackles (35 solo) INT, Tucker Colomb 59 tackles (30 solo) 1 sack, INT, Zach Masch 38 tackles (20 solo), 3 sacks, Brian Stockton 21 tackles (11 solo) 12 sacks, Matt Anderson 26 tackles (10 solo) 4 INT. Davis, Lundin 54 tackles (47 solo), Chris Reynoso 49 tackles (41 solo) 2 sacks, Aaron Furtek 36 tackles (30 solo) 5 sacks, Steven Hoffart 24 tackles (21 solo) 4 sacks.
Directions – Take I-80 to the Richards Boulevard exit and go north on E Street. Turn left (north) on F Street. Turn left (west) on 14th Street. School is on north side of the street at the corner of Oak Avenue.
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