Crushers hope to measure up
Those are the point margins in each of Vintage’s (Napa) losses to Nevada Union since the teams’ first meeting four season’s ago.
Starting with that ill-fated trip to Hooper Stadium for a 2000 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I first-round playoff game in which the they gave up 84 points, to non-league losses in both 2002 and last year, Vintage has had its hearts broken by Grass Valley’s boys in blue time after time after time.
“It’s true we went in there (in 2000) and got our tails waxed. But on the bus ride home, I told the kids if we had a chance to schedule Nevada Union in the future, we would (because they’ve) got a great program,” Vintage head coach Les Franco said. “I’ve coached some pretty good teams – teams who have made it to the section finals, and I know if you want to be the best, (you’ve got to play the best).”
The Crushers (1-0 overall), who topped Santa Rosa’s Cardinal Newman 28-21 in their Sept. 10 season-opener, will look to flip the script Friday in their rather one-sided rivalry with the Miners (1-0) when they return to Hooper Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Crushers’ triple-option offense lost its starting quarterback and both its top-three leading rushers and receivers to graduation, but Humphers said his young defense – which last week saw Laguna Creek march 80 yards for a score on the game’s opening possession – won’t get a break Friday.
“Laguna Creek’s (running game) was able to reveal some of the weaknesses we’ve had to improve on,” Humphers said. “But that’s helped us. That’s the reason why we (schedule) such tough opponents in the preseason.”
“Vintage has always prided itself on its offensive-line play. They’re big and strong up front. They’re very athletic.”
Of all of Vintage’s offensive weapons, the Miner defense will have to put a helmet on senior tailback Tim Matson (6 foot, 198 pounds) early and often.
Matson, who was way down on the Crushers’ depth chart last season, had a career-night versus Cardinal Newman with 189 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Senior fullback Kevin Harrell (5’11”, 205) bullied his way for 57 yards on eight touches.
“I was really happy with our running game last week. We were able to do a better job between the tackles (than in past years),” Franco said.
Senior quarterback Jeff Wright (5’10”, 190) was also productive on the ground with 66 yards on 12 carries.
Through the air, Wright went 2-for-3 for 41 yards. Both balls were caught by senior wide receiver Dennis Long (6’1″, 175).
“There are several ways to run the triple option. They can run either the inside or outside veer, throw it into the flat (or go deep),” Humphers said. “But Vintage is not just (a running team), it has shown the ability and willingness to throw the ball. The key for us is to play relaxed and focus on our reads.”
The Crushers’ relatively inexperienced defense- its top four tacklers last week were juniors – held Cardinal Newman’s pass-happy offense to three touchdowns.
It totaled a truckload of tackles, including two sacks, and nabbed a pair of interceptions.
Other than that, there wasn’t much else on the game film for Humphers to work with.
“It’s difficult to predict how their defense will match up against our offense because Cardinal Newman’s and our philosophies are so different,” he said. “They line up with five wideouts, so they obviously throw the ball (almost exclusively).”
“One thing I know about Vintage’s defense is it’s aggressive and full of hard hitters.”
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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.