Miners ready for to make long-awaited return to SFL action | TheUnion.com

Miners ready for to make long-awaited return to SFL action

Nevada Union coach Dave Humphers expects a balanced offensive attack today from Granite Bay, the Miners’ (4-1) first Sierra Foothill League foe.

“They have an outstanding running game and passing game,” Humphers said.

Junior quarterback Brendan Keeney is “very accurate,” he added.

Today’s home game will be the Miners first playing an opponent in the newly joined Sierra Foothill League. Nevada Union first played as an SFL member when the school opened in 1952 and continued competing in the league for the next 30 years, including NU’s first league championship season in 1978, with coach Marshall Nixon at the helm.

Nevada Union moved into the Capital Athletic League in 1982, where they remained until league realignment moved the Miners to the Metro Conference from 2002-05.

Last year, Nevada Union competed in the Delta Valley Conference – the final year of a four-year membership – which the Miners won with a perfect 5-0 record (13-1 overall) en route to the Division I section title.

Granite Bay, though a first-time opponent in the SFL, is a familiar foe for the Miners. The two teams squared off three times during the Grizzlies’ two-year membership in the Metro Conference. Although Granite Bay beat NU in two of three meetings, regular-season games in 2004 (24-14) and 2005 (22-20), the Miners defeated Granite Bay 42-27 in the 2004 City Championship game at Sacramento’s Hughes Stadium on the way to a section runner-up run.

This year’s Grizzlies (3-2) downed Pittsburg 45-7 last week, but lost to Vacaville 47-23 the previous week.

“They’re putting up a lot of points,” Humphers said. “Our guys know it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Keeney has thrown for 17 touchdowns, completing 63 passes in 114 attempts. Granite Bay is also led by senior Danny Thomas, who has rushed for 263 yards on 54 carries. He’s averaged 52.6 yards per game.

But Humphers said his team is ready to hit the Grizzlies hard.

“They’re not used to getting hit like they’re going to get hit by us,” Humphers told his team during Wednesday’s practice.

“Our kids are really gaining confidence and having a lot of fun,” Humphers said.

After downing Elk Grove 28-0 on Sept. 24 and last week’s bye week, one might think the Miners could come out flat, but Humphers said he’s only seen the team work harder in practice.

“It’s been, by far, our best week of practice,” Humphers said.

For the Miners to continue their four-game winning streak, it’s likely they’ll need continued good games from Connor Keith, Devyn Grimes and Josiah Paye on offense; and Tanner Vallejo and Boddi Winegar on defense.

Keith has carried the ball 86 times for 510 yards, scoring 10 touchdowns.

Grimes has carried the ball 45 times for 428 yards, scoring three touchdowns.

Paye is 28-for-74 passing, throwing five touchdowns, and has also carried the ball 39 times for 159 yards.

Vallejo has 68 tackles, including 48 solo, while Winegar has 40 tackles, including 23 solo.

The game starts at 7:15 p.m.

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

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