Nevada Union learns from a loss
It is a scenario that has repeated itself twice within the last decade. Coach Dave Humphers has put the positive spin on it. There might be debate, but it definitely causes a sting that inspires players to avoid it again at all costs.
Truth be known, it hardens the skin like leather. Players intensify. It galvanizes the effort even more.
Let it be said. Last Friday’s loss is not necessarily a bad thing unless it continues. In fact, it is a rite of passage. In the two previous seasons in which the Nevada Union Miners captured the Sectional Championship, a loss has blemished each campaign.
You might think that there is a abundance of insanity in this claim. However, it is a prerequisite to greatness. Entering the post season without a loss is dangerous territory.
So, did Nevada Union get it out of their system last week in the narrow 29-28 loss to a talented Pleasant Grove team.
Indeed, only time will tell.
A few notes may be in order now that we are over a 1/4 of the way toward the conclusion of the season.
Each team scored as many touchdowns last week. Each team received one extremely fortunate break in the contest. The Miners running game was better. Pleasant Grove’s passing game (17 for 20) was better. The Miners did not surrender a lead in this game for 47:27. Pleasant Grove captured the win with 33 seconds to play, their first lead. Each team had their opportunity to win this game in the last minute. Pleasant Grove converted.
The point is, this was two very evenly-matched teams that brought it down to the bitter end. Nevada Union had its chance to win with :16 to play.
Pre-league games are designed to work out the kinks. A few were definitely exposed last week. Even with this said, there were several areas that were exceptional.
The pluses of this early season are:
The running game- Humphers has assembled an awesome crew. The blocking is crisp and the runners find the holes. No huge gains but an extremely steady performance.
The passing game- Ian Davis plays out of this hemisphere. Austin Marks is a tall, skilled, and intelligent tight end. Hank Humphers rounds out an awesome threesome.
Offensive line- Kyle Cota has had time to throw and there have been gaping holes. Eli Butcher and Cameron Townsend have been standouts. They are also both team leaders.
Defensive line- Opponents have had a hard time getting the job done on the run. When Tanner Vallejo sniffs out a play it usually ends with a significant loss.
Quarterback- The only question is whether Kyle Cota will win be the section’s MVP. However, he needs to stay healthy.
Improvement is needed in two areas:
Pass defense- The difference in last week’s game may well have been allowing Pleasant Grove’s passing game to go 17 for 20. Two weeks ago, Chico High’s passing game went 30 for 30, and that was the second string quarterback.
Special teams- Two notes here. The Miners have an incredible place kicker in Braaten Sill. Against McQueen he was the No. 2 star of the game. Last week’s game winning field goal attempt went straight into the defender’s stomach. Better blocking is needed for Sill to set records and win games. Secondly, the return teams need to be more dogged in their pursuit. Bullets have been dodged, but there is little doubt Nevada Union will continue to face tough runners. Sill is to be applauded for a very high percentage of touchbacks on kickoffs.
Yes, these are all tune ups for the real thing that surfaces in a few weeks. The SFL is a tough league. In order to get to the postseason there are several games where the Miners will be hard-tested. Fine tune the pluses. Get the minuses under control. This will be the formula to success.
I stick by my original claim. Two losses through the second week of playoffs. This is a talented team with great chemistry and incredible character.
Some may claim that the Miners should have been victorious last week. Remember, it is all a part of the journey. No pain, no gain.
Jim Adams lives in Nevada City and is a regular contributor to The Union and a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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