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The road ahead: Breaking down Nevada Union’s 2022 football schedule

By Walter Ford | Special to The Union
Nevada Union’s quarterback prospects take snaps during the Blue and Gold Scrimmage held last Friday at Hooper Stadium. The scrimmage was a good first look at this year’s gridiron talent for Nevada Union.
Photo: Elias Funez

The local high school football season officially kicks off in a week, and the Nevada Union Miners are eager to dig into their 2022 campaign.

“They’re a great group,” Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks said of his team. “They’re excited.”

The Miners are coming off a 2021 campaign in which they went 6-5 overall, 3-2 in Foothill Valley League play and reached the postseason for the second time in three seasons (2019, 2021). There were no playoffs held in 2020 due to COVID-19.

In 2022, the Miners will host just four games and be on the road for the other six. Sparks said being “road warriors” is something his players are accustomed to.

Many of NU’s combatants this season are familiar foes, as the Miners will line up against seven teams they faced in 2021. New additions to the schedule include Wheatland, Sheldon and West Park.

The Miners open with a slate of five non-league games against high-quality competition. They then have a bye week before kicking off the always tough five-game FVL season. Sparks said he believes in his team and envisions his squad playing well beyond the initial 10-game schedule.

“We don’t want to play just 10 games,” he said. “We want to play 11, 12, 13 games. We want to be practicing on Thanksgiving.”

With the season right around the corner, here’s a breakdown of the Miners 2022 football schedule.

A Nevada Union receiver looks to haul in a pass in front of a Nevada Union defender during last Friday’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage at Hooper Stadium.
Photo: Elias Funez

SATURDAY: NU at Bear River, 8 a.m. (scrimmage)

The Miners and Bruins are set to clash at Bear River’s J. David Ramsey Stadium Saturday morning in what is the final tune up for both teams ahead of regular season games.

This is not an official game, but the Miners and Bruins always put on a show at their annual pre-season scrimmage. This contest also provides a great opportunity for fans to get a preseason glimpse of the two Nevada County-based prep football teams.

AUG. 19: NU at Wheatland (4-8 last season), 7 p.m.

The first game that truly counts for the Miners will be in Wheatland when they face off with the Pirates. Wheatland is coming off a four-win season in which they made the Northern Section playoffs. Wheatland made the jump to the Sac-Joaquin Section this season and will compete in the Pioneer Valley League.

Nevada Union’s Varsity Miners run offensive plays against the defense during last week’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage, the first football of the year at NU’s Hooper Stadium.
Photo: Elias Funez

AUG. 26 NU at Sheldon (8-4) , 7 p.m.

Game 2 for the Miners is another road contest, as the Blue and Gold makes its way to Sacramento to battle the Huskies from Sheldon High School. The last time these two teams faced off was in the 2009 playoffs, when the Miners topped the Huskies 41-7 in the second round before going on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I title. Adding some more intrigue to the contest is the fact that Sheldon is coached by NU grad and former player Chris Nixon, who is the son of former Miners coach Marshall Nixon.

SEPT. 2: NU vs. Woodcreek (7-4), 7 p.m.

Nevada Union’s first contest in the friendly confines of Hooper Stadium comes in Week 3, when the Miners host the Woodcreek Timberwolves. These once league foes are facing off in non-league play for the second straight season. Last year, the Timberwolves shut out the Miners to extend their series win streak to six. In addition to the game on the field, it’ll also be Staff Appreciation Night at Hooper Stadium.

SEPT. 9: NU at Colfax (7-3), 7 p.m.

The Miners and Falcons faced off on the gridiron for the first time ever last season and it was an absolute thriller. The two teams combined for 98 points, with the Miners taking home the win, 56-42. NU receivers Clay Renner and Drew Menet both topped 100-yards receiving en route to the victory. Both players are back for their senior season with the Miners.

Nevada Union’s varsity coaching staff watches closely as freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity football teams take snaps and run plays.
Photo: Elias Funez

SEPT. 16: NU vs. Union Mine (8-2), 7 p.m.

Nevada Union closes out their non-league slate of games with a contest against Union Mine. The Diamondbacks topped the Miners in El Dorado last season. This season’s bout will be at Hooper Stadium on Heroes Night, where the Miners honor active-military, veterans, law enforcement, first responders and fire personnel ahead of the game.

SEPT. 30: NU vs. Lincoln (8-3), 7 p.m.

The Miners wrapped their FVL slate of games against Lincoln last year. This season they open FVL play against the defending league champ Zebras. The Miners and Zebras have faced off seven times since 2014, with the Miners grabbing two wins across that stretch. The bout with Lincoln will also serve as Nevada Union’s Homecoming Game.

OCT. 7: NU at West Park (6-5), 7 p.m.

After back-to-back home games, the Miners hit the road to Roseville for a matchup with the newest member of FVL, the West Park Panthers. West Park replaced Rio Linda in the FVL, and is coming off a 2021 campaign in which they made the playoffs in their inaugural season.

Prospective quarterback talent is showcased during Friday’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage last week.
Photo: Elias Funez

OCT. 14: NU at Placer (5-6), 7 p.m.

This is the game most Miners have circled on their calendar. The Nevada Union/Placer rivalry is a storied one that goes back generations. This season, the game takes place in Auburn at Placer’s LaFebvre Stadium.

OCT. 21: NU vs. Oakmont (4-6), 7 p.m.

The Miners host the Oakmont Vikings at Hooper Stadium in their final home game of the season. Since becoming league combatants in 2018, the NU/Oakmont games have been hard-fought, closely contested bouts. A year ago, the Miners came back from a 14-0 deficit on the road to beat the Vikings, 28-21.

OCT. 28: NU at Ponderosa (4-5), 7 p.m.

Nevada Union closes out the regular season the way they started it — on the road. In recent years, the Miners and Bruins have battled each other extremely closely. A season ago it took three overtimes to settle it, with the Miners coming out on top, 50-42.

Fans fill the stands at Hooper Stadium during last week’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage. The Miners will host four home games during this year’s regular season.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Walter Ford, email walterford44@gmail.com

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