Nevada Union football team mid-season report
The Nevada Union football team ended its non-league schedule last Friday on a sour note, losing 43-19 at the hands of a very talented Elk Grove team.
The Miner defense was exposed in the run game (438 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns allowed), and the offense had their worst showing with only 19 points and four turnovers.
Nevada Union head football coach Dave Humphers said he scheduled a non-league lineup that would prepare his team for the daunting task of winning the Sierra Foothill League, a feat it has never accomplished. The Miners finished 0-5 in the SFL in 2010, and 3-2 in 2011.
“We challenged our team with a very difficult schedule,” Humphers said. “We learned a lot about our guys. They’re a hard-working group, and through the ups and downs, we found some things out.”
The Miners finished the non-league schedule at 3-2, which is impressive considering they played five teams that had winning records last season and two teams currently ranked in the top-25 in Northern California (No. 2 Elk Grove, No. 25 Pleasant Grove).
Five games into the season, the team with Sac-Joaquin Section championship aspirations has a lot to be upbeat about as it heads into the Sierra Foothill League season.
The Miners have one of the best quarterbacks in the section in Kyle Cota. The second-year starter has thrown for 972 yards and 12 touchdowns to only one interception through the first half of the season. Cota’s favorite target has been lanky wide out Ian Davis. The sure-handed receiver has pulled down 33 passes for 542 yards and six touchdowns. Davis leads the section in receptions and has found his way into the endzone in every game this season.
Another bright spot has been kicker Braaten Sill. The senior kicker has 24 touchbacks in 29 kickoff attempts. Sill gives the Miners a scoring option from 35 to 45 yards out, if the line can stop the defensive rush. Sill has had two kicks blocked this season after failures on the offensive line. An area Humphers said the team has addressed this week.
The defense is still being led by all-section linebacker Tanner Vallejo, who is averaging 12 tackles a game while taking on a bigger role with the offense (229 yards rushing and three touchdowns this season).
Hank Humphers has shown his ball hawking ability with an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries, one he took back for a touchdown.
Other Miners like Terry Graham and Austin Marks have become difference makers. Graham seems to always be around the ball on defense forcing fumbles, blocking kicks and rushing the quarterback. Marks, a tall, powerful tight end, is second on the team in catches and provides a scoring option inside the red zone.
That’s the good. Here’s the bad.
The Nevada Union defense is a huge question mark. Through the first two games, it looked dominant holding McQueen and Grant to a total of 17 points. In the three games since it has allowed an average of 34 points per game. Against Pleasant Grove and Chico, the Miners struggled to stop the passing game, yielding long touchdowns through the air. And against Elk Grove they had no answer for the Thundering Herd’s run game. So as the Miners head into the SFL season, it is still uncertain where their defense hangs their hat.
Penalties have also hurt NU, while they cut down on them against Elk Grove the Miners had been averaging over nine penalties a game this season including 14 against Chico. There have been four Nevada Union touchdowns called back on penalties through the first five games this season, including two punt returns.
This week is the Miners bye week allowing them some time to work on their problem areas and continue to progress in their strong areas as they head toward the SFL season opener against Rocklin.
Rocklin Thunder (2-3)
Offense: 17 ppg
Defense: 18.8 ppg allowed
Last season: (3-7, 0-5 SFL)
Rocklin is coming off a big 31-22 win over Inkerdum last Friday and will look to keep its pass happy offense rolling against the Miners suspect secondary.
Junior quarterback Logan Webb has started the last three games for Rocklin averaging just over 180 yards passing per game while throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Thunder doesn’t have much of a run game to speak of as they only average 65.6 rush yards per game and have just two rushing touchdowns.
Last season Rocklin pushed NU to overtime in a season finale thriller where the Miners were able edge the Thunder on a option play scored by now graduated Josiah Paye.
Woodcreek Timberwolves (2-2)
Offense: 41.3 ppg
Defense: 42 ppg allowed
Last season: (5-5, 1-4 SFL)
The Timberwolves are as offensively capable as they are defensively incapable.
While their offense has scored at least 36 points in every game they played, they have allowed at least 27 points in every game including 68 to Folsom.
Senior quarterback Stephen Nogosek is throwing the ball well at 262.5 yards per game and 13 touchdowns to go with three interceptions. Nogosek is also the second-leading rusher on the team. Mitchell Layton leads Woodcreek’s run game with 123.5 yards per game and six touchdowns.
Last season the Miners thumped the Timberwolves 37-0. I wouldn’t expect a shutout this year.
Offense: 13.8 ppg
Defense: 28 ppg allowed
Last season: (5-6, 2-3 SFL)
The Tigers look to be this season’s SFL cellar dweller as they lack a passing game or a dominant running back. The Tigers opened with three straight losses this season and have only a win against Oakmont (1-3). Roseville’s main threat is running back Matt Razzano who is averaging 88 yards per game. Roseville does spread the ball around as five different backs have touchdowns. Last season the Miners thrashed the Tigers 54-30.
Del Oro Golden Eagles (0-4)
Offense: 16.5 ppg
Defense: 28.75 ppg allowed
Last season: (13-2, 5-0 SFL)
Last season’s SFL title holder and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II champs have had a rough start to 2012 going 0-4, losing three close games and getting stomped by Oaks Christian. The Golden Eagles lost their quarterback in the first game and haven’t recovered. They still boast running back Brandon Monroe who is back for his senior year. Monroe rushed for 1,662 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. This season Monroe is averaging 88.3 yards per game with only one touchdown for an offense that averages just under 250 yards total on offense. Last season the Miners fell just short of upsetting the Golden Eagles in Hooper Stadium 35-31, but 2012 looks like a good year for revenge.
Granite Bay Grizzlies (1-3)
Offense: 23.3 ppg
Defense: 30.3 ppg allowed
Last season: (12-2, 4-1 SFL)
Don’t let the record fool you, the Grizzlies are a good team that may have scheduled a harder non-league season than the Miners.
Granite Bay’s losses are to Southern California powers Westlake and Oaks Christian as well as Bay Area power Pittsburgh.
The Grizzlies boast a balanced offense with senior quarterback Grant Caraway averaging just under 120 pass yards per game. The Grizzlies give the ball to a bevy of backs led by senior John Cooley. Cooley leads the team with 358 yards this season and three rushing touchdowns. Granite Bay has a tackling machine on defense in sophomore linebacker Cameron Smith who averages 15.5 tackles per game.
Last season the Miners fell to Granite Bay 28-21.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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