Here comes the Herd: Nevada Union set to host Elk Grove
As if taking on the No. 5 team in the Sac-Joaquin Section wasn’t tough enough, Nevada Union will do it minus its head coach.
Dennis Houlihan will miss today’s non-league finale against the Elk Grove Thundering Herd as he tends to a family matter, said NU defensive coordinator Brad Dal Bon.
Dal Bon will assume head-coaching duties for the Miners’ homecoming game against the 4-0 Thundering Herd.
“They are one of the best teams I’ve seen in a long time, not just this year,” Dal Bon said. “They are five, six, seven deep at running back and anyone can break it at anytime. Our guys know that, and it’s just a matter of strapping the helmet up and hitting them and doing what we got to do.”
The Thundering Herd blows into town averaging 355.3 yards on the ground and 106.5 through the air per game.
Leading the Herd is Wadus Parker, a senior running back with speed and strength. Through four games, Parker has 652 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. The Miners, as a team, have 671 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Parker did leave last week’s game with an injury and never returned. His status for tonight’s game is unknown, but that doesn’t put Dal Bon’s mind at ease as the Thundering Herd has a stable of backs, all of which can be a game breaker.
Between nine different ball carriers this season, Elk Grove has totaled 1,421 yards, scored 20 rushing touchdowns and averaged 8.99 yards per carry as a team.
That is bad news for a Miners team that has struggled against the run, allowing more than 200 yards rushing in each of their games this season, including 394 yards to Pleasant Grove two weeks ago.
Dal Bon said that tackling was a focus at practice this week and that for NU to be successful, there has to be more than one guy making the stop, there has to be multiple players making the tackle.
“(Tackling) is a focus every week,” Dal Bon said. “We’ve really focused on it, and it’s just a matter of putting it together, and we had a good week of practice this week, so hopefully that translates on the field.”
If Elk Grove’s offense has one weakness, it would be the passing game. The Herd’s quarterback Tommy Arnold has attempted only 25 passes this season, completing 13 for 426 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
As for the NU offense, Dal Bon is taking the hit-them-fast-and-hit-them-hard approach.
“Their defensive is also real tough,” he said of Elk Grove.
“We’re going to try and hit them as quick as we can with some quick hitting stuff, and hopefully that keeps them off balance. It’s one of those things where, like the defense, you need to hit them real hard and back them up the best you can and hopefully sneak a couple plays by them.”
The Miners offense has shown glimpses of promise with Gareth Noxon going for more than 100 yards of total offense in each of the past two games. Jake Berger, Travis Owens, Joe Voight and Brandon Lopez will all be looking to get the Miners’ run game going against a talented Herd defense that has two shutouts and allowed only 20 points all season.
Elk Grove is the third team ranked in the Sac-Joaquin Section top-8 the Miners have faced already this season, with Granite Bay and Del Oro also in that category down the line.
Despite a 0-4 start, a litany of injuries, kids quitting, academic issues and now Houlihan being out, the Miners are focused and having fun, said Dal Bon.
“The kids are being kids,” he said. “They’re having fun and there are smiles on their faces. The record doesn’t show it, but the kids are still having fun at practice and that’s part of it — having fun.”
The Miners host Elk Grove at 7:15 p.m. today at Hooper Stadium.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rankings and stats provided by MaxPreps.com.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.