Nevada Union primed for Del Oro football matchup
What: Nevada Union vs. Del Oro
When: 7:30 p.m.,today
Where: Del Oro High School, 3301 Taylor Road, Loomis.
Last week: Nevada Union (5-3, 2-1 SFL) defeated Roseville, 52-19. Del Oro (3-5, 2-1 SFL) lost to Granite Bay, 21-7.
Directions: Take I-80 to the Penryn Road exit. Go north on Penryn to Taylor Road. Turn left (southwest) on Taylor.
There is no denying that Nevada Union is playing its best football of the season.
In the last two games the Miners are averaging more than 500 yards of offense per game and more than 48 points.
“We’ve got a hungry team that is playing their best ball of the season,” NU head coach Dave Humphers said. “They’re confident, healthy, and the kids are having a ball.”
Coming off back-to-back blowouts over Woodcreek and Roseville in which the Miners won by a combined score of 97-26, NU (5-3 overall, 2-1 Sierra Foothill League) now travels to take on last season’s league champion, Del Oro.
Del Oro (3-5, 2-1 SFL) isn’t the league champion-caliber team it was last season when it swept the SFL, but it still poses a threat to the Miners’ playoff hopes.
“They have an outstanding run game,” Humphers said. “They come right at ya.”
Leading the Golden Eagles’ run attack is Brandon Monroe. The senior tailback with a bruising running style is coming off a 112-yard effort against Granite Bay last week, including a 75-yard touchdown run.
Del Oro’s backfield also boasts Dylan Kainrath and Mark Leveron who have combined for 660 yards and five touchdowns this season. Overall, Del Oro averages 150.6 yards rushing per game.
From the quarterback position, the Golden Eagles average more than 108 yards passing per game. Del Oro quarterback Zach Labar is a decent passer and a good runner, said Humphers.
For the Miners, their offense will need to be on its toes facing a Del Oro defense that regularly plays five linebackers.
“Five linebackers is a lot of linebackers to block,” Humphers said. “They’re all good, too. We’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us if we want to move the ball.”
Quarterback Kyle Cota has shown he’s able to put the offense on his back with a pair of 300-yard performances in the last two weeks. Cota’s favorite target, Ian Davis, is on the cusp of a 1,000-yard season. He comes into the game with 55 catches for 978 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of Cota’s 105 completions and 1,756 passing yards this season, Davis has caught more than half of those passes and accounted for more than half the yards. Cota’s season continues to be stellar with 16 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
The Miner run game has picked up speed in the last two weeks as well, averaging more than 200 yards per game.
Hank Humphers and Tanner Vallejo continue to get the bulk of the carries, but recently Nate Dickinson has been getting more carries and contributing to the run attack. Last week Dickinson gained 56 yards on eight carries and added a touchdown.
For the season, the Miners average 155.4 yards on the ground. Humphers has 371 rushing yards with an average of 6.29 per carry and four touchdowns. Vallejo is second on the team with 312 yards and a 6.5-yards-per-rush average to go with a team-high six rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, the Miners will depend on their core of senior linebackers. Vallejo leads the team in tackles with 93 to go with three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. Hank Humphers has 46 tackles, a sack, an interception and two fumble recoveries. Miguel Espinosa has 40 tackles this season, two sacks and three fumble recoveries.
A pair of juniors has stepped up for the Miners with Gareth Noxon and T.J. Hart making an impact on the defensive side of the ball.
Noxon is second on the team with 67 tackles from the safety position, and Hart has a fumble recovery and a blocked kick to go with 21 tackles from the defensive tackle position.
In last season’s matchup with Del Oro, the Miners fell 35-31 after the Golden Eagles scored late in the fourth quarter.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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