PREP FOOTBALL: Miners close season at home vs. undefeated Oak Ridge
KNOW & GO
What: Nevada Union (2-7, 0-5 SFL) vs. Oak Ridge (8-0, 4-0 SFL)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High school
Follow along: on Twitter @WalterLFordIII or online at TheUnion.com
The Nevada Union football team has one last chance to earn a Sierra Foothill League victory, something that has eluded the Miners the past five seasons.
The Miners (2-7, 0-5 SFL) have not won a league game since 2012 and with SFL foe Oak Ridge (8-0, 4-0 SFL) coming to town tonight it will be the last attempt the Miners will have. Nevada Union moves into the Foothill Valley League next season.
“(Our guys) have a lot of pride in themselves and we have guys with talent,” said Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan, who is 0-28 in SFL games at the varsity level. “They are going to play and play hard, and we will see if we can’t get that one win we’ve been trying to get.”
Getting that win against the Oak Ridge Trojans will not be easy.
Oak Ridge come into the contest undefeated and on the heels of a 32-14 beat down of Del Oro. The Trojans are averaging 32.3 points per game, allowing just 12.1 points per game and have one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the region.
Senior signal caller Marco Baldacchino leads the Trojans with his legs and arm, passing for 1,598 yards and 12 touchdowns, and rushing for a team best 659 yards and 10 touchdowns. His favorite target in the passing game is senior Justin Poerio with 42 catches for 619 yards and four touchdowns. Oak Ridge’s big play threat is Austin Jarrard, who has 604 yards and five touchdowns on just 31 catches.
Looking to slow the Oak Ridge offense will be an NU defense that is coming off its best league performance of the season, allowing just 23 points to a talented Granite Bay team.
Anchoring the Miners’ defense all season has been senior linebacker Justin Houlihan, who leads the SFL in tackles with 94 this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Miners have struggled mightily, going the past two weeks without scoring a point.
Where the Miners have been successful this season has been in the run game, where they are averaging 232.3 yards per game. Leading the ground attack has been junior Dawson Fay with 1,123 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Fay leads the SFL in rushing yards, and is the first NU rusher to top the 1,000-yard mark since 2014, when Mo Nieves rushed for 1,139 yards.
Senior Tyler Nielson is second on the team with 514 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Nielson, who has topped the 500-yard mark in each of his three varsity years is 155 yards away from reaching the 2,000-yard mark for his high school varsity career.
Since Oak Ridge joined the SFL in 2014, they have beat the Miners three straight times, including double-digit wins in 2015 and 2016, and a three-point win in 2014.
Nevada Union and Oak Ridge are set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Hooper Stadium.
For the Miners, whose bye week falls on the final week of the regular season, the contest with Oak Ridge closes their 2017 slate of games. The Trojans face fellow undefeated SFL team Folsom in the regular season finale Nov. 3.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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