Miners meet Monterey Trail in rematch of football section title game
Considering just three Miners making today’s trip to Monterey Trail were in the starting lineup for Nevada Union last fall, it’s no wonder NU coach Dave Humphers doesn’t consider tonight’s clash to be much of a rematch from last year’s section championship game.
The Mustangs (1-1), who were dominated by the Miners 20-2 at University of the Pacific, are likely looking forward to getting another shot at Nevada Union.
And topping the list of T.J. Ewing’s Mustangs looking to avenge their dismal day in the December downpour at UOP is Drake Tofi.
As a junior, Tofi tore up opposing defenses to the tune of 1,730 yards and 22 touchdowns. But when the Miners and Mustangs toed the line with the section banner hanging it the balance, Tofi totaled just 69 yards on 20 carries, which was about half his per-game average in 2009. The 5-foot, 10-inch, 175-pound senior has rushed for 169 yards in two games this fall.
Also back is 5-10, 175-pound senior signal-caller Mike Calvan, who threw for 1,009 yards and 17 touchdowns with just one interception, while also rushing for 739 yards and nine scores. Calvan completed 9-of-11 passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 42-27 win over Fairfield.
And a third Mustang has emerged in the Monterey Trail offense through two games, as 5-9, 190-pound senior Derek Bellamy leads the team with 176 rushing yards.
Like the Miners, Monterey Trail ended up on the short side of tough opener, falling to 2009 section semifinalist Pleasant Grove 20-12.
“They have three of their best players back from last year’s team. I’d say they were their best three, too,” Humphers said. “”Drake Tofi ran for almost 2,000 yards last year. Mike Calvan, their quarterback, is back and their free safety (Ethan Clark) led the section with 11 interceptions last year and he’s back.
“So they look very similar to last year … But as far as anything related to a rematch of the section title game, we’re just really focused on ourselves and trying to get better, rather than worry about who it is we’re playing this Friday.”
Through the first two weeks of the season, Humphers likes the improvement he’s already seen. An impressive defensive showing in the season-opening, 12-7 loss to McQueen (Reno), was following by an offensive outburst in last week’s 41-20 rout of host Ponderosa.
Fullback Connor Keith led the team with 14 carries for 126 yards, while Devyn Grimes (56 rushing yards) and Jake Tilly (45 yards) also were productive out of the backfield.
On the defensive side, sophomore Tanner Vallejo totaled 17 tackles to lead the Miners, while Gabe Humphers had 13 stops and Boddi Winegar had 10. Josh Cena led the secondary with two interceptions in the win.
NU sophomore Hank Humphers, who had six tackles in last week’s win, will be sidelined by a knee injury this week. Although he underwent an MRI late this week, the extent of the injury remains to be seen. Conner Fuller, the team’s junior starting tight end, is the next man up to fill the outside linebacker spot.
Humphers hopes to see tonight the kind of defensive play the Miners have put forth in the first two weeks of the season, as they attempt to corral a dangerous herd of Mustangs. Although the Miners had last week’s game in hand with a 27-7 halftime lead, Ponderosa’s Conner Bitnoff became the second rusher in two weeks to put up big yards (192 on 21 carries) against NU. McQueen’s Nick Shepard had 22 totes for 138 yards in the opener.
“There are 10 specific areas where I’d like to see us improve this week,” said Humphers, pointing to penalties, the passing game, defensive pursuit and special teams play among others.
“(Monterey Trail) is very quick and aggressive and their offensive line is very impressive in the way they get off the ball. I can see why their program has risen so fast in such a short period of time. They’ve got a tremendous coaching staff.”
Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4240.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.