FOOTBALL: Can Cardinals slow down Miners’ attack?
Surveying the statistics and watching the game film of this week’s opponent, Nevada Union coach Dave Humphers said he finds it hard to believe that Laguna Creek’s Cardinals haven’t found more success this season.
“They’re the most-deceptive team out there,” Humphers said. “You watch them on film and you can’t believe they’ve lost five games.”
But they have.
Laguna Creek, which handed Nevada Union its lone regular season loss (13-7) in 2008 has hit hard times. The Cardinals (2-5) have shown the potential to put points on the board, but they haven’t shown the ability to stop anyone else from doing so, either.
Opposing offenses have rushed for 2,042 yards against Laguna Creek, including a season-high of 545 yards gained by Vacaville, which means the Cardinals are allowing 291 rushing yards each week.
Meanwhile, Nevada Union quarterback Broughan Jantz will line up a Miner offense that is scoring 42 points per game against the Cardinals at NU’s Hooper Stadium tonight.
Jantz, who has been a model of efficiency all season long, had a huge game in last week’s 49-28 win over Franklin of Elk Grove. Completing 8-of-14 passes, the senior southpaw threw for 145 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 123 yards and two scores.
Not only has Jantz made many big plays that have helped propel the Miners to a 6-1 season record, he’s also not making many mistakes that could derail them from their gameplan. Jantz has completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,199 yards and 12 touchdowns. But perhaps even more important is he’s thrown only one interception all season.
“Shoot, I used to be thrilled when our quarterbacks completed over 50 percent,” said Humphers, comparing him to former NU signal-callers. “I’d say he has the passing touch of a Thor Larsen. He has the speed and quickness of a Jon Sheets and the scrambling ability of a Josh Roenicke.
“He’s just having a great year and he’s been having a lot of fun.”
Jantz’s ability to take care of the ball has helped make Nevada Union turnovers a rarity. The Miners have 13 takeaways (interceptions and fumbles) from opponents, while turning the ball over just six times. Laguna Creek, in comparison, has given the ball away 14 times and has a total of six takeaways.
One of Jantz’s favorite targets, fellow senior Duncan Chapple, leads the Miners with 481 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 30 catches. Tight end Dan Pettinato has 17 catches for 307 yards and three touchdowns.
But it’s the Miners in the backfield who have to be champing at the bit for a chance to run against the Cardinals’ soft run defense tonight. NU has rushed for 1,845 yards on the season, led by Jason Slade (55 carries, 388 yards), Drew Hoskin (57-375) and Jantz (42-365).
On the opposite side of the ball, Laguna Creek quarterback Arnold Ferrari will try to keep pace with the high-scoring Miners. He has completed 48 percent of his passes for 1,208 yards and 10 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Diondre Batson (27 catches, 490 yards) and Steve Jones (22-267) have been his top receivers.
The Cardinals’ rushing attack has been led by junior Don Jackson, who has totaled 582 yards and eight touchdowns.
A win would move the Miners to 3-0 in the Delta Valley Conference, giving first-place NU the inside track to the league championship. Nevada Union is the only team among the six DVC members with an overall winning record.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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