New league for Miners
When Nevada Union travels to Fair Oaks to square off against Del Campo for a Saturday game Oct. 5, it will seem like old times, business as usual.
Only times have changed. If nothing else, realignment tells us so.
The game against Del Campo will not be your typical Capital Athletic League barn burner between the two programs, but NU’s final preseason game of the football year now that the Miners have joined the Metropolitan Conference.
The Miners leave behind not only the Cougars, but programs such as Davis, El Camino, Bella Vista and Casa Roble. Grant? The Pacers will join NU for the ride into the new Metro Conference, which will also include Hiram Johnson, Woodland, Kennedy, Yuba City, and McClatchy. In fact, the Miners will travel to Grant Nov. 15 for the final game of the season, which some believe might determine the new league’s champion.
While some players see the preseason game with Elk Grove and Grant as the ones to circle on the calendar, NU coach Dave Humphers warns that a tough schedule this year will allow little time for looking too far ahead.
“Johnson has always been a power in football, and Woodland moves in with most of their team back from last year’s team that made the playoffs,” NU coach Dave Humphers said. “Anybody in our league that is looking too far ahead is really going to get caught, because there are some good teams this year.”
Nevada Union will not have to wait for the Metro Conference play to begin before being challenged. In the preseason opener Friday, the Miners will travel four hours to take on Merced, which five times has produced teams that have made the championship game of the Sac-Joaquin section.
Next will be Vintage, which will be seeking revenge after NU crushed them in the 2000 playoffs.
Then NU faces Elk Grove, which twice defeated the Miners in 2001 and whose senior class has never lost a football game to NU’s senior class.
NU will then take on Del Campo before starting its Metro campaign against Hiram Johnson.
“That Elk Grove game will be a big one for us, but I am not even thinking about it,” Humphers said. “The game with Merced is a big game, and then we’ll prepare for Vintage, which will be the biggest game, and so on. Our first five games in a row are against monster opponents. We’ll have to be ready week in and week out.”
Preparation this year will take a little more work than it has in the past, with new opponents requiring new game plans, and more legwork.
“Most coaches are good about exchanging films,” Humphers said. “Some are not, some will play games, but most are good. By the middle of the season, we’ll be calling those schools for some of their most recent games played. But for Merced and Vintage, we’ll go to their opponents to get films from last year. So sometimes scouting starts a year ahead, and you try and build libraries on opponents.”
The new alignment means more long trips for NU, which was saddled with being the team with the most travel time during the Miners’ time in the CAL. Friday’s preseason opening game on the road to Merced College is nearly a four hour drive.
“There is a psychological part to long trips that is very important,” Humphers said. “The way the bus ride goes is a real sign of the maturity of the team. I was telling coach (Joey) Montoya on the bus ride to Stockton (for last week’s scrimmage) that I have a real sense of how badly this team wants to do well. They weren’t so nervous they were overcome by it, and I like that.”
Tonight, @ Merced (Merced College)
Sept. 20, home vs. Vintage
Sept. 27, home vs. Elk Grove
Oct. 5 @ Del Campo (Sat. Game, 11am/1 pm)
Oct. 11 home vs. Hiram Johnson
Oct. 18 home vs. McClatchy
Oct. 25 @ Kennedy Nov. 1 at home vs. Woodland
Nov. 8 @ Yuba City Nov. 15 @ Grant.
(jv games start at 5:30, varsity at 7:30, unless noted)
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