Miners hit road in search of 1st SFL win of season | TheUnion.com

Miners hit road in search of 1st SFL win of season

Nevada Union's Mo Nieves squirts free from the pack for a big gain during a game against Folsom Friday at Hooper Stadium.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Know and Go

What: Nevada Union at Granite Bay

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Granite Bay High School, 1 Grizzly Way, Granite Bay

Nevada Union (3-4, 0-3 SFL)

Last Week: lost to Folsom, 63-6

PPG: 23.1

PPG allowed: 35.9

Players to Watch

(RB) Mo Nieves - 853 rush yards, 13 rush TDs

(RB/DB) Travis Owens – 1,155 all-purpose yards, 5 total TDs

(MLB) Josh Belendez – 85 tackles, 5 sacks

Granite Bay (4-2, 1-1 SFL)

Last Week: beat Oak Ridge, 38-24

PPG: 23.3

PPG allowed: 22

Players to Watch

(QB) Justin Yeaton – 59-of-107, 835 pass yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs

(WR) Will Stabbert – 16 rec., 349 yards, 7 TDs

(LB) Cameron Smith – 69 tackles, 3 INTs

The Miners hit the road today looking to tackle some Grizzlies and their first Sierra Foothill League win of the season.

Nevada Union (3-4, 0-3 SFL) will also be looking to shake a three game losing streak, but if history holds true Granite Bay won’t make it easy.

The Grizzlies (4-2, 1-1 SFL) have taken the last four head-to-head meetings with the Miners, and haven’t lost to NU since it joined the SFL in 2010.

Granite Bay is coming off a big win over SFL new addition Oak Ridge last week where they were successful through the air and on the ground.

Leading the Grizzlies’ offense is senior quarterback Justin Yeaton. The 6-foot, 4-inch 190 pound signal caller averages 139.2 yards passing per game and has nine passing touchdowns to just three interceptions. Yeaton targets a trio of seniors for the most part, hitting Brian Graber, Will Stabbert or Tyler Brendal. Stabbert leads the team with 349 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Graber leads the team in receptions with 19 for 278 yards and one touchdown.

On the ground, Granite Bay gives the ball to variety of backs with four different ball toters having 24 or more carries this season. As a team they average 163.2 rushing yards per game. Leading Granite Bay on the ground is senior Ben Smith with 59 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

The Grizzlies’ offense averages 23.3 points per game this season, but have averaged 33 points per game in their last two games.

For the Miners, it has been a two-headed attack out of their backfield with seniors Mo Nieves (853 rush yards, 13 rush touchdowns) and Travis Owens (764 rush yards, three touchdowns). Nieves leads the SFL in rushing yards and Owens is second in the league, but both have slowed lately. After starting the season with five straight 100-yard games, Nieves has been held to just 147 yards the past two weeks. Owens has tallied just 80 rush yards the past two weeks after opening the season with 684 yards in five games.

Nieves and Owens along with the Nevada Union offensive line will have their hands full with USC commit and three-year starting linebacker Cameron Smith. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 240-pound bruiser leads Granite Bay with 69 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Smith is second in the SFL in tackles behind Nevada Union’s Josh Belendez (85 tackles).

Defensively, the Grizzlies have allowed 22 points per game this season.

“We watched some film on them this week and they are not the typical Granite Bay team,” NU head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “They have a good defense, but teams have been able to run on them.”

The Miners offense has seen a steep decline in production since diving into the shark infested waters of the SFL. NU averaged 32.5 points per game through four non-league games, but has been held to just 32 total points in three games against SFL opponents. Part of that decline has been the absence of a pass game, but Houlihan said junior Justus Spillner made strides this week as the team’s quarterback.

“We gave him some competition this week and told him his job was up for grabs, and that seemed to work,” said Houlihan. “That got him going this week. He really stepped up.”

After opening the season with a three touchdown performance against Placer, Spillner has thrown just one since.

Tonight’s game marks the second straight season NU has played on the road at Granite Bay. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Granite Bay High School.

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

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