Miners meet Ponderosa on the road tonight | TheUnion.com

Miners meet Ponderosa on the road tonight

Nevada Union could be in for another defensive slugfest if today’s game against Ponderosa plays out as coach Dave Humphers expects.

After losing 12-7 to McQueen (Reno, Nev.) last week, the Miners hope to sharpen their offensive game enough to edge the defensive-minded Bruins.

“They’re a hard-nosed, smash-mouth football program,” Humphers said. “They’re tough. They pride themselves on tough defense.”

Ponderosa, a Delta River League team, beat Elk Grove on the road, 14-7, last week.

“That makes them a huge contender,” Humphers said.

The Bruin program has been traditionally strong and Humphers anticipates the team is back on track after posting a 3-7 record last season.

During last year’s down season, Nevada Union rocked Ponderosa in the season opener 42-7. But two years ago, the Bruins made the playoffs. Ponderosa also qualified for the postseason three years ago, when it knocked off Northern California powerhouse Grant 21-14 before falling to Granite Bay the following week.

This week, the Miners concentrated on what they needed to do to improve.

“We worked hard with the offensive pass protection and run blocking,” Humphers said. “We also worked harder with the backs, faking harder and running harder.”

With one punt blocked and another one nearly blocked last week, the Miners also worked to better protect the kicker.

“It’s been a great week of practice,” Humphers said. “I know that our team has improved through the week.”

On Ponderosa’s side of the ball, the Miners will have to watch out for the fleet feet of quarterback Conner Bitnoff, who was only 1-for-4 in pass completions last week, but rushed for 71 yards on 22 carries. Jeff Camilli led the Bruin defense with nine total tackles.

For the Miners, Conner Keith rushed for 109 yards on 18 carries, while Tanner Vallejo led Nevada Union’s defense with 13 tackles.

The Miners anticipate rolling into Shingle Springs today as a mostly healthy team.

A couple players had a flu bug and some others had minor injuries, but none of the injuries were anticipated to sideline anyone, Humphers said.

Contact Sports Writer Greg Moberly via e-mail at gmoberly@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4234.

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