Miners seek to snap streak on the road | TheUnion.com

Miners seek to snap streak on the road

Dave Humphers had a bit of a blast from the past last weekend, when a former player greeted Nevada Union’s head coach while taking in a youth football game over the weekend.

Scott Wheeler, who lined at defensive back for the Miners in the early ’80s, told Humphers that he was surprised to see his own former NU team discussed in The Union’s coverage of last week’s loss to Granite Bay.

“He said, ‘Hey coach, we finally made the newspaper again,'” Humphers said. “‘But it was as the last (NU) team to lose three in a row.’

“And we both laughed before he asked how the kids were doing. I told him they’re doing great.”

Wheeler’s junior season was the last the time the Miners dropped three straight games until the current skid started for Nevada Union with a week-two loss at Vintage (22-7), followed by home losses to Del Oro (33-21) and Granite Bay (36-23).

Humphers said the Miners have kept a positive approach and are beginning to see improvement in the areas necessary for Nevada Union to get back to its winning ways.

If NU is to end that streak tonight in Stockton, the Miners will have to stop a three-game win streak by the home team, the Franklin Yellowjackets.

But Franklin (3-1) is battling its own bit of adversity.

Last week, the Sac-Joaquin Section of the California Interscholastic Federation announced an investigation turned up allegations of the program recruiting up to 10 players over the past three seasons from the American Somoa to play for the Yellowjackets.

The section had given Franklin officials until today to formerly respond to the accusations. But in a story appearing in Thursday’s Sacramento Bee, Franklin coach Tom Verner said the allegations are a result of a personal vendetta against him by section commissioner Pete Saco.

Whether school officials will make an official response today or determine that any players on the roster should be considered ineligible remained unclear Thursday.

Back in Grass Valley, though, the Miners are more concerned with their own play after early-season struggles than with whom they’ll kick off against tonight.

“All I know is what I see on the news, which was that the CIF has made these allegations … and that (Franklin’s) superintendent has denied any wrong-doing,” Humphers said. “We’ve talked to the kids about it, letting them know that isn’t our deal.

“Our deal is we’ve got a game to play (today).”

The outcome of that game, Humphers said, will likely come down to a couple of key areas: NU’s special teams play and how well Nevada Union’s defense stacks up against the Yellowjackets’ smash-mouth style of football.

“They’ll go double tight (end), double wing, with no split ends and no splits (space between linemen),” Humphers said. “They’ll put up a wall of 300-pound guys with their shoes touching shoes, and they’ll try to just crush you.

“They try to just drive people off the face of the Earth.”

That approach has worked impressively well so far, as the Yellowjackets already have rushed for 1,687 yards this season. Franklin features two backs with almost 500 yards through four games in Solomon Martin (492 yards) and Fred Jones (491). Three other backs have rushed for around 200 yards each.

Despite the three-straight losses, Humphers said, the Miners have shifted their focus to continue getting themselves ready to contend with the Delta Valley Conference season, which begins next week at Franklin of Elk Grove.

“It’s a lot better for us to lose three in a row this way,” Humphers said, “before league, while we’re getting better, as opposed to finishing that way.”


To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call 477-4240.

To get there:

Nevada Union

at Franklin (Stockton)

7:15 p.m. today

Directions: Take Highway 99 South to Stockton. Exit East (left) on Fremont St. (Hwy 26) toward Linden. Right on Gertrude Ave. School is on left side of street.

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