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NU hosts Laguna Creek in opener

It’s safe to say Laguna Creek’s last meeting with Nevada Union didn’t quite go the way the Cardinals had hoped.

The year was 2002.

Laguna Creek opened season with two victories, two losses and tie, but rallied to win its last five games – including a 9-7 decision over perennial Sac-Joaquin Section power Elk Grove- to earn a ticket to the playoffs.



It’s reward was a showdown with NU at Hooper Stadium.

The Miners’ rushing attack churned out 221 yards on 48 carries and got three scores form then-sophomore Ryan Herrera en route to a 42-7 blowout win.




Two seasons later, the teams meet again in their season openers.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

OFFENSE

Graduation did a number on the Cardinals’ offense.

Running back Keith Johnson, who ran for 1,696 yards on 143 carries and hit pay dirt 26 times last season, along with three fellow All-Delta League first teamers, quarterback Matt Podesto, wide receiver Chido Nwokocha and tight end R.J. Fuentes are all gone.

Johnson’s departure puts the ball in the relatively green hands of running back Lamar Copeland (5’7″, 178) and fullback Steve Grossenbacher (5’11”, 220).

Copeland totaled just 461 yards on 52 carries in limited action last year, but proved he has nose for the end zone with five scores.

Grossenbacher, who will handle place kicking duties, had 11 yards on three touches.

At quarterback, the Cardinals will look to senior Ashton Tyler (5’10”, 175) to lead the way. He went 2-for-3 for 22 yards.

In the trenches, the Cardinals will depend on the skills – and bulk – of center Garrett Silvas (6’1″, 240), guard Alex Ochoa (6’2″, 225) and tackle Nick Burteil (6’1″, 290) to make life tough on NU’s defensive front.

DEFENSE

Laguna Creek is just as thin on the other side of the ball.

The Cardinals lost an all league linebacker, defensive tackle and a pair cornerbacks from last year’s Delta League champs.

Grossenbacher, who was fifth on the team in tackles with 70 last season, is the Cardinals most experienced defender by far.

Copeland will step in at corner, a spot where he had 20 stops and an interception in a backup role last season.

Silvas, Ochoa and Burteil will be joined by junior defensive tackle Deshon Matthews (6’4″, 230) up front.


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