‘A win like this means a lot’: Miners barrel past Bella Vista; Bear River, Colfax have games canceled due to poor air quality | TheUnion.com
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‘A win like this means a lot’: Miners barrel past Bella Vista; Bear River, Colfax have games canceled due to poor air quality

Nevada Union's Gabe Baker busts loose for a big run during the Miners’ 44-34 victory over Bella Vista Friday. Baker finished the game with 284 passing yards, 73 rushing yards and six total touchdowns (five passing, one rushing).

Prep football made its highly anticipated return Friday night and while poor air quality caused several teams to cancel their scheduled contests, the Nevada Union Miners were able to get on the field and kickoff the season in victorious fashion.

“It was amazing,” Nevada Union team captain Gabe Baker said after the Miners’ 44-34 opening night victory over Bella Vista, “especially after everything that’s been going on. A win like this means a lot to everybody.”

The Miners got the job done behind strong play from their offensive linemen coupled with a huge effort from Baker, their senior quarterback and inside linebacker.



The 6-foot, 3-inch, 240-pound Baker led the Miners on both sides of the ball. On defense, Baker grabbed two interceptions, tallied 12 tackles and set the tone with several hard hits that drew audible reactions from the sideline and stands.

On offense, Baker shined as he completed 18-of-28 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns (16-yards, 44, 32, 9, 54). He also made his presence felt in the run game as he rumbled for 73 yards and a touchdown. Baker also caught a pair of two-point conversions and ran another in.



“He’s a dude,” Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks said of Baker. “He’s a great kid and he played a heck of a ball game tonight.”

The Nevada Union High School cheerleaders perform at Bella Vista High School during Friday’s halftime show.

With the offensive line giving Baker plenty of time in the pocket and clearing the way for NU’s other playmakers, the Miners built up a substantial, 36-7, lead through the first three quarters and then held off a late surge by the Broncos to secure the road victory.

“The O-Line did amazing,” said Baker. “I know that’s the stereotypical quarterback thing to say, but I had time to go through three, four progressions and step up and throw, and that’s all I can ask of them.”

The Miners also got big games on offense from running back Cameron Cormack, receiver Clay Renner and receiver Ethan Billock. Cormack, a senior, rushed for 88 yards, caught four passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns (32, 9), and amassed more than 100 yards in kick returns. Renner, a junior, led all NU pass catchers with eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns (16, 54). Billock followed with two catches for 77 yards, including a 44-yarder for a touchdown.

“I’m proud of how many points we put on the board,” said Sparks. “We did some great things offensively.”

Making the offensive explosion possible were the Miners up front, including seniors Elliot Tinnel, Timber Wilkins, Justin Lopez, Tim Steffenson and Ryder Querequincia, and junior Roland Betito.

“The linemen definitely had a great day today,” Cormack said. “They blocked, they kept the quarterback safe, and the run game was perfect.”

Sparks was also pleased by the work done in the trenches.

I’m really impressed with the offensive linemen,“ he said. ”I think we allowed one sack. So, we did a great job protecting (Baker), and they did a great job up front getting holes for our running backs.”

Defensively, NU’s leading tackler was inside linebacker Jedi Vculek with 13, including one for a loss. Renner, Bodey Eelkema and Trayton Santos all had nine tackles. Renner, Eelkema, Steffenson, and Cole McCracken all notched sacks in the win. Dustin Philpot and Steffenson both fell on fumbles. And, Andrew Webster nabbed an interception to thwart a deep Bella Vista drive.

Nevada Union’s junior varsity team also earned a win against their Bella Vista counterparts, beating the JV Broncos, 40-6, behind a strong effort from quarterback Nolan Chappell, who tossed four touchdown passes in the game and ran for another.

Nevada Union’s Ethan Billock celebrates scoring a touchdown during the Miners 44-34 victory over Bella Vista on Friday. Billock tallied two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown in the game.

SMOKED OUT

While the Miners varsity and junior varsity teams were able to play Friday night, the Bear River Bruins (varsity and JV), Colfax Falcons (varsity and JV) and NU freshmen teams weren’t as fortunate.

Bear River’s scheduled Saturday matchup with Truckee was canceled Friday afternoon in anticipation of poor air quality in the Truckee region. Bear River co-head coach Tanner Mathias said the team is exploring options to find an alternate opponent to face during their upcoming bye week (Sept. 3).

The Bruins have a road game against the El Dorado Cougars this Friday. El Dorado (1-0) is coming off a 32-6 thrashing of Amador in its opener.

Colfax’s scheduled contest with Hug High School (Reno) was also canceled due to poor air quality. In accordance with Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association rules, teams must have three contact practices in order to play a game, but the team from Hug was unable to meet that requirement due to poor air quality in Reno throughout the week.

The Falcons from Colfax are scheduled for a home game against the Woodland Wolves this Friday. Woodland (1-0) is coming off an 18-6 victory over Marysville in its opener.

Nevada Union’s freshmen team was scheduled to face Bella Vista Thursday, but poor air quality in Fair Oaks caused it to be canceled.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com

SCORE BY QUARTER

MINERS 44, BRONCOS 34

FIRST QUARTER

NU: Gabe Baker 30-yard run. Extra point no good. (4:04)

SECOND QUARTER

NU: Clay Renner 16-yard pass from Baker. Extra point no good. (6:26)

NU: Ethan Billock 44-yard pass from Baker. Two-point conversion good. (2:59)

BV: Caelan Sallander 63-yard run. Extra point good. (1:48)

THIRD QUARTER

NU: Cameron Cormack 32-yard pass from Baker. Two-point conversion good. (3:53)

NU: Cormack 9-yard pass from Baker. Two-point conversion good.(2:27)

FOURTH QUARTER

BV: Sallander 32-yard run. Extra point good. (11:27)

BV: Sallander 61-yard run. Extra point no good. (9:43)

NU: Renner 54-yard pass from Baker. Two-point conversion good. (7:41)

BV: Gabriel Carrillo 5-yard run. Extra point no good. (4:03)

BV: Sallander 25-yard catch from Ian James. Two-point conversion good. (:38)


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