Miners anxious to leave last year in past | TheUnion.com

Miners anxious to leave last year in past

If there’s one prevailing feeling coursing through the veins of Nevada Union’s football team, it’s the undeniable angst of getting the first one in the bag.

The Miners travel to Ponderosa high school today in Shingle Springs (Placerville) for the team’s season opener, hoping to deflect last year’s downward spiral and catapult themselves to higher hopes ” and more specifically, a winning season.

The Ponderosa Bruins, 9-3 last season and winners of the Sierra Valley League, come into the Week 1 matchup after winning last week at Fernley (Nev.) 21-20.

The Bruins return their top running back, Lyndell Scarr, who rushed for 92 yards last week on 17 carries. But the jewel of their offense may be their quarterback, junior Casey Friederich, who tossed three touchdowns in last week’s win.

“Ponderosa presents a great challenge for us,” Nevada Union head coach Dave Humphers said. “They really had a strong opener, they’re a very good program, they know how to win, they won their league title last year, they beat Grant in the first round of the playoffs and they have the best players off of last year’s team back.

“We have another tough, tough schedule this year,” Humphers continued. “We know we’ve got a great challenge ahead of us for Friday.”

The Miners, 4-6 last season, plan on dealing with Ponderosa the old fashioned way: a tough defense and keeping a cap on the team’s own errors.

“There are a lot of basics parts of football that we know we have to do. One is not beat ourselves with penalties and turnovers,” Humphers said. “We have a couple of goals: Under 50 yards of penalties and no turnovers. And just working on our own play and improving. Defensively we’ve got to tackle their strong backs. Their line is good and their backs are big and strong. The most important part of their game is they like to run the ball right at people.”

The Miners will counter the straight up attack of the Bruins by depending on their defensive leaders Cole Stanford at safety, Ty Dentinger on the defensive line and Zach Vallejo at middle linebacker. Vallejo replaces last season’s tackling leader for NU, Tucker Colomb.

Humphers also is very happy with the development of junior Broughan Jantz at quarterback and halfbacks Cameron Ryan and Jared Ralph.

“I think (Jantz) improves every single day … our running backs are hitting the holes better. But we still think one of the keys to the games is how our defense plays. We know we have to win with defense.

“They do a lot of things,” Humphers said of Ponderosa. “They’re primarily a smash-mouth running game. But they run outside, they throw the ball down field … They’re a playoff program. I know it will be a good game.”

To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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