North digs up a win
SACRAMENTO Ð In the 48th-Annual Optimist All-Star Football Game Friday, Nevada County proved itself to be the powerhouse it has always been, with representatives helping lead the North team to a 27-19 win over the South.
Four county players went Ð three from Bear River and one from Nevada Union Ð to compete with the Northern-Sacramento region team at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento along with the elite from the entire Northern California area.
Cody Yeager, Matt Stuber, and Josh Rumsey were Bear River’s representatives, while John Burquez was the sole Miner.
From the first whistle Burquez flexed his defensive muscles, picking up two of the first three tackles in the game.
Late in the first quarter Burquez successfully played receiver in a two-point conversion to put North up 8-0.
That was not the last Burquez was heard from, as he tallied tackle after tackle and had a fumble recovery late in the first half.
University of Hawaii-bound Burquez found the game to be closer to a preseason college match than a chance to flaunt his talent.
“(The game) has given me an insight for what college is going to be like,” he said.
Although Burquez made sure his name was remembered after the game, Bear River players did their share to boost North to victory.
Stuber waited until the second half to begin his onslaught on defense, picking up a pair of sacks and several tackles. Each sack proved to be key, the first of which forced a punt from deep in South’s territory, and the second forced fourth-and-goal from the 26-yard line as the South, with one minute, 30 seconds showing on the clock, tried and failed to fight its way back into the game.
Rumsey, too, took time to warm up, but once he did South’s defense learned to fear him as much as it had starter Eddie Thompson, with whom Rumsey switched in and out with throughout the game.
Rumsey threw the touchdown that gave North a 20-19 lead, and although Thompson later scored on an option, Rumsey’s TD pass was all North needed for the win.
The importance of the game was evident with Rumsey, who joined two players in Yeager and Stuber with whom he had played since junior high. All three will be playing for Sierra College this upcoming football season.
Rumsey also added that it was an honor to be on the field with players he would be seeing on television in a few years’ time, something he would not be forgetting in the near future.
“This is a game I’m never going to forget,” he said.
One of the many quirks in a game like Friday’s is the combination of players.
Many followers of NU football recall the name Gerwin Williams, the Grant running back who picked up hundreds of yards against the Miners in the times the teams have met.
The combination of two fierce rivals Ð Burquez and Williams Ð has the potential to be a bomb within the nucleus of a team, but it was a bomb that failed to go off over the short two weeks the Optimist teams held practices up to game night.
“They lost to us,” Burquez said. “So there’s always going to be that bitterness. But it was an honor playing with him. He’s a great guy.”
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