Big play potential: Nevada Union and Bear River football players to keep an eye on this season
The 2021 fall high school football season kicks off in less than a week and local football teams are eager to pop pads against players in different colored jerseys.
The Nevada Union Miners and Bear River Bruins will be giving fans a taste of what to expect this season when the two cross-county schools face off in a preseason scrimmage at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at Hooper Stadium. The Miners then open the 2021 regular season with a road game against Bella Vista Friday night. The Bruins kickoff the season Aug. 21 at Truckee High School.
Before the Friday night lights pop on and the season gets underway, we take a look at the Miners and Bruins to keep an eye on this season.
Gabe Baker, Nevada Union
Baker is back for his third season at the varsity level for the Miners and will be a leader on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 240-pound Baker is a hard-hitting linebacker on defense, and a big play threat on offense from the quarterback position.
“He’s so good, he’s going to be playing all over the place on defense,” said Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks. “We got to move him around so teams just can’t scout where he’s at and run away from him. And, he’s continued to work on his craft at quarterback.”
Ryder Kiggins, Bear River
Bear River’s hard-charging fullback is back for his third-season at the varsity level. Kiggins burst onto the scene during his sophomore year in 2019 and has proven himself to be a dependable and productive ball carrier ever since.
“The maturity level that he’s gained through the years has been tremendous,” said Bear River co-head coach Mike Profumo. “He’s a responsible, hard-working, dedicated leader on the team and he brings a presence on the field. He’s at a different level, and teams will have a hard time preparing for him.”
Cameron Cormack, Nevada Union
Cormack is a speedy running back who showed flashes of his big play potential during NU’s two-game spring season. Small in stature, Cormack more than makes up for it with his elusiveness and determination with the ball in his hands. He’s also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield for a big gain.
“He is a lot of fun to watch,” said Sparks. “He’s going to be someone to deal with in our league. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s smart and we’re excited to have him back.”
Ryder Holcomb, Bear River
Holcomb played just about every position on defense during the Bruins’ spring season, and his coaches are expecting big things from the talented defensive back/linebacker/edge rusher.
“He’s going to be a stud and we’re super excited to see what he can do,” said Bear River co-head coach Tanner Mathias.
Profumo added, “He’s probably our biggest leader on the team and one of our most sound players, fundamentally and physically.”
Brenner Krogh, Nevada Union
Now in his third season with the varsity Miners, Krogh takes over a starting wide receiver role this season.
“He’s a smart kid. Hard worker. Dependable,” Sparks said. “With the offense we run, our receivers catch about 200 balls a day. I bet he doubles that. He’s a workaholic. He’s first in and last out.”
Gino Lorenzo, Bear River
Lorenzo takes over the QB1 role at Bear River after splitting time with Jacob Ayestaran during the 2021 spring season.
“This year it’s his job all the way and he’ll do a good job,” said Mathias.
Lorenzo is an athletic player who can make plays with both his arm and his legs.
“He’s made some great progress and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do throwing the ball this year and running as well,” said Profumo. “He’s balanced. He does everything well.”
Mathew Wilkins, Nevada Union
Wilkins is one of the anchors on NU’s offensive line and will be vital to the Miners’ success on that side of the ball.
“(Wilkins) is doing a heck of a job, especially in the weight room and in practice,” said Sparks. “He’s a dude, and doing a great job for us.”
Ben Christmon, Bear River
Christmon brings some much needed senior leadership to the Bruins offensive front, and will be a key contributor in the trenches.
“He just does things above and beyond, and impresses us every day,” said Profumo.
Elliot Tinnel, Nevada Union
The other anchor in NU’s offensive line is Tinnel, a high football IQ guy who will play center for the Miners this season.
“A lot of coaches say ‘your smartest lineman has to be your center,’ and he fits that mold,” Sparks said. “The kid played quarterback his sophomore year and now he’s playing center. He’s got a great head on his shoulders, snaps the ball really well and moves our offense along the way we need to be.”
Anders Torgerson, Bear River
Torgerson is a talented linebacker and ball carrier who saw lots of action during the spring season as a sophomore.
“He probably has the greatest work ethic on the team and he’s hungry,” said Profumo. “He wants to learn, he’s constantly asking questions and it’s a pleasure to have someone that into football.”
Mathias added, “He’s full speed all the time. He’s going to be awesome, and he’s a good leader also.”
Drew Menet, Nevada Union
Menet is a speedy receiver that the Miners coaching staff is very high on.
“He’s a dude,” said Sparks. “He’s a 4.5 (seconds) 40 (yard dash) kid. He’s not big, but he’s elusive. He’s got great hands, he’s smart, he’s a competitor, and I’ll tell you what, he has got a drive to be great. And that’s really what NU football is about.”
Joey Knox, Bear River
Knox saw lots of playing time as defensive back and running back as a sophomore, and is expected to continue to shine in those roles as a junior.
“He’s a 100% reliable player,” said Profumo. “He doesn’t make very many mistakes. On offense he’s just as good of a blocker as he is a runner. Very smart, high football IQ. He just does everything well.”
Mathias added. “I’m excited to see what he can do as a defensive player, and a leader on our team.”
James Kinney, Nevada Union
Kinney impressed at cornerback for the Miners as a sophomore during the spring, and will be a key member of their secondary during the fall season.
“Strong kid, understands the game, hard-worker and dependable,” Sparks said of Kinney.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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EL DORADO — Nevada Union’s up and down season continued Friday night as the Miners struggled mightily in a 41-7 loss to the Union Mine Diamondbacks.