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Humphers: Herd down, but not out

Two games into the season, Elk Grove finds itself in unfamiliar territory:

Winless.

The Thundering Herd (0-2 overall), a perennial Sac-Joaquin Section power since, well, forever, hasn’t just lost. They’ve been blown out.



First off was a 31-7 shellacking at the hands of Grace Davis (Modesto) in which no Herd runner gained over 15 yards.

Elk Grove’s offense managed just seven first downs, 51 yards rushing and turned the ball over five times.




The Herd got its running game back on track the following week versus Division II juggernaut Del Oro (Loomis) with 221 yards on 31 carries, but it couldn’t make up for a second-straight lackluster defensive performance.

Del Oro 40, Elk Grove 12.

Sure, the Herd is down at the moment, but Nevada Union head coach Dave Humphers, whose boys will play host to Elk Grove Friday, said he’s not taking the team lightly, and neither should NU (1-1) fans.

“No matter what their record is, they’re still Elk Grove. Their program has been, and will always be, very tough,” Humphers said. ‘They’ll still hit you hard.”

Friday’s game will be the 19th meeting between the teams since the start of their storied rivalry in the 1984 Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

NU lost 9-6, but went on to win six of the next seven through 1996.

Elk Grove took its turn on top the following year with wins in both the pre- and postseason. The Herd kept their momentum going, winning five of the next seven, including the 2000 Sacramento City Championship.

“We always love to play at home, but we love to play Elk Grove anywhere,” said Humphers, who has skippered the Miners to two straight wins over the Herd in the past two seasons. “This is what a high school rivalry should be. The games are competitive and because of that, there’s mutual respect.”

“(But to be honest), our opponent this Friday is not Elk Grove, but ourselves. We have to improve on areas we struggled on as a team last week,” he added, referring to NU’s 30-20 homefield loss to Vintage (Napa). “(Our guys) have to realize the that the Nevada Union football legacy is not just handed down, It’s earned.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Offense

There’s plenty of good news for a young Miner defense – Humphers started eight juniors last week – hoping to bounce back from the week before.

• Elk Grove’s base offense is the wing-T. The very same set they go against every day in practice.

• The Herd has been slow out of the gate. They’ve been skunked in the first half in both of their losses.

• Elk Grove has been careless with the pill. It has turned ball over an average of three times a game.

The Herd has given the ball to eight runners this year, but none have done more with less than Gabriel Davenport (5-foot-9, 150 pounds).

The senior running back has only touched the ball twice, but one of the carries was an 82-yard score in the late stages against Del Oro.

Senior quarterback Cody Allen (6-1, 190) has the most carries with 10 for 28 yards.

Jeff Jackson (6-0, 200) is close behind with nine totes for 46 yards. Jake Glass (5-9, 205) has 36 yards on eight touches.

Through the air, Allen has completed 19-of-26 for 152 yards with a score, but three interceptions.

Allen’s first option has been Dwight Childs (6-2, 150). The junior wide receiver has four catches for a team-high 76 yards.

Running back Joe Allen (5-11, 185) has two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. Joel Hull (5-9, 150), also a running back, has two catches for 23 yards.

Defense

Charged with putting a lid on NU’s high-octane rushing attack will be a defensive unit which has allowed 38.5 points per contest this season.

Junior inside linebacker Ryan Coulson (6-3, 220) leads the team in tackles with 22, including a sack. Senior outside linebackers Tony Zanardi (5-9, 155) and Edward Feliciano (5-9, 170) have combined for 26 stops.

Division-I prospect, 6-6, 270 pound senior defensive end Matt Kopa has four tackles.

‘They play the same defense we do, an overshifted 4-4. They’ve got good size, and they’re physical,” Humphers said.


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