Jr. Miners earn way into title game after muddy Mighty Mite Bowl | TheUnion.com

Jr. Miners earn way into title game after muddy Mighty Mite Bowl

The Nevada Union Junior Miners celebrate a victory over Lincoln at the SVUSA North Division Mighty Mite Bowl Saturday at Bear River High School.
Walter Ford/wford@theunion.com |

As sheets of rain poured over a soggy J. David Ramsey Stadium Saturday, the Nevada Union Junior Miners dug into the mud and gritted their way into a championship at the Sierra Valley USA North Mighty Mite Bowl.

The Mighty Mite bowl brings all the SVUSA North Mighty Mite teams together for a double-elimination tournament to whittle the competition down to two. The football field at Bear River was split in half with two games going concurrently on either side of the 50-yard line. The format allowed each team 8 minutes of offense to score as many points as they could on their opponent. Then the teams would switch sides. The team with the most points after each team had used their allotted eight minutes of offense claimed victory.

After losing their first game of the double elimination youth football tournament to Lincoln, the Junior Miners beat Woodland and Placer before exacting revenge on the Junior Zebras from Lincoln in the semifinals and earning a berth into next Saturday’s Mighty Mite Championship game at Lincoln High School.

In the semifinal matchup with the Junior Zebras, the Junior Miners didn’t wait long to get on the board, scoring on their first play from scrimmage. NU quarterback Keisen Hayden fumbled the snap from the center, but quickly plucked the ball from the mud and took off up a seam in the defense. Hayden would shake a couple Lincoln defenders and go 40-yards for the touchdown. Hayden added another score on NU’s last offensive play, going 15-yards for the touchdown. On Hayden’s second score, he took a quarterback keeper around the left side and beat a couple Lincoln defenders to the corner of the end zone, falling on the front pylon as he was tackled.

Nevada Union’s defense was impressive throughout and when all the other teams had wilted from the weather, NU’s defense remained staunch. The Junior Miners held Lincoln without a touchdown in the semifinal match, and allowed just two scores in their four games.

“Kudos goes to the defense right now, they held the two toughest teams in our league to next to no yardage,” said NU co-head coach Eric Giles. “Our offense fired really well against the Placer team. I just can’t say enough about this group. Every guy on our team is an iron man and I just couldn’t be happier.”

The NU defense was led by Hayden, Aiden McKenna, Andrew Jordyn, Trayton Santos, Sean Miller, Keegan Perches, Anakin Steen and Shaun Jones.

With the 12-0 victory, NU punched their ticket to the championship game against Antelope, who went undefeated on the day.

“We just talked about how we needed a do or die attitude,” said NU co-head coach Kyle Klauer. “We told them all week that ‘if we lose we turn in our pads,’ and I just feel like they didn’t want to turn in their pads and now we live to fight another day.”

In an earlier win over Placer, NU scored four times with Hayden scoring once, McKenna scoring twice and Riley Smith punching one in. Santos added several big runs in the win as well. In the victory over Woodland, Hayden scored once on a quarterback keeper that went for a 40-yard touchdown.

Bear River was eliminated after two games, falling to Woodland in its first game and losing a heartbreaker to Placer in its second game.

In the matchup with Placer, the Junior Bruins started with the ball and scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 12-0 lead. Bear River’s Kaelob Powell scored Bear River’s first touchdown, and Aiden Sloan scored the other.

Placer matched Bear River’s 12 points, getting a pair of scores from Hayden Erickson, sending the game to overtime.

In Mighty Mite overtime, each team gets four downs from the 10-yard line to score. The Junior Bruins were able to score on their offensive possession when Sloan carried a pair of Placer defenders with him into the end zone, scoring with a great second effort on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Placer answered with a 1-yard scoring run of their own.

Due to time constraints the game was decided with a coin flip and Bear River came out on the short end and was subsequently eliminated.

The Bear River youth football program has one team left in the postseason as their Jr. Midget squad is still alive after a playoff victory over Placer, 22-8, in round one. The Nevada Union Junior Miners program advanced their pee wee and midget division teams after playoff wins as well.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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