PREP FOOTBALL: A look at area seniors who are making a difference on the gridiron
For most football players the opportunities to capture gridiron glory are few and far between, and with just a handful of games left on the high school football regular season schedule those opportunities and becoming less and less.
While some exceptional players will play at the next level, for many seniors these final few games will be the last time they will lace ‘em up for a school team or possibly ever.
So, as the regular season nears an end, and Nevada Union, Colfax and Bear River battle for playoff position or pride, or both, we take time to shine a light on some area seniors that are making the most of their final year of high school football.
Kase Scott, RB/LB, Nevada Union
Kase Scott didn’t carry the ball once during the first four games of the season, but since breaking out for 62 yards on four carries in game five against Del Oro, he has been Nevada Union’s most consistent offensive threat. Scott has amassed 251 rush yards and two touchdowns on just 34 carries since becoming an integral part of the offensive attack. He has led the Miners in rushing the past two weeks, including 117 yards and a touchdown against Folsom. Scott is also one of Nevada Union’s best defenders with 49 tackles (32 solo), two interceptions and a sack.
“(Scott) is one senior you can just tell he doesn’t want it to end yet,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “He’s playing really hard and I love it.”
Dave Mastrella, RB/DB, Bear River
Dave Mastrella is “key” to the success that undefeated Bear River has had this season, said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pound Mastrella is a dual threat for Bear River’s offense, amassing 325 yards rushing on just 34 carries, catching nine passes for 151 yards and scoring four total touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving). He’s no slouch defensively either, wrapping up 35 tackles (28 solo), including five for a loss.
Lukas Rineer, RB, Colfax
Lukas Rineer stepped into some pretty big shoes this season, taking over for Colfax’s record-setting running back Tim Rawlins, but the transition has been smooth as the undersized running back is one of the best in the Pioneer Valley League this year.
“(Rineer) plays beyond his body size. He’s not a big kid. 5-foot, 7-inches at the tallest and maybe 140 pounds, but when he hits (the hole) he hits it hard. He’s not a slash-and-dasher, he’s more of a power runner than anything else. I’m just amazed at how hard he runs,” said Colfax head coach Tony Martello.
Rineer opened the season with six straight 100-plus yard games, a streak that was snapped last week against Bear River when he gained 96 yards. Rineer leads the PVL with 881 rushing yards and has scored at least one touchdown in five of Colfax’s seven games this season.
Gunner Simpson, OLB, Bear River
Gunner Simpson came off a junior campaign in which he tallied 49 tackles and 10 sacks. As a senior, Simpson hasn’t taken his foot off the gas, recording 47 tackles (31 solo) and eight sacks already this season.
At 6-foot, 192-pounds Simpson is Bear River’s most effective pass rusher off the edge.
Jason Voter, QB, Bear River
As a junior, Jason Voter was thrust into the starting quarterback position after the opening game starter was suspended, and despite the crash course in varsity football he was able to help the Bruins to a Sac-Joaquin Section D-V championship. Coming into this season, Voter knew he was the man from the start and he hasn’t disappointed, leading the Bruins to a 7-0 start. Voter doesn’t put up big numbers but he does put up efficient numbers. The 5-foot, 11-inch Voter completes 56-percent of his passes, averages 118 yards per game and had eight touchdowns to just three interceptions. Voter has only thrown 86 times this season in the run-heavy Bear River offense, but makes the most out of those opportunities, averaging 17.3 yards per completion.
Andrew Schnitzius, TE/LB, Nevada Union
Andrew Schnitzius is a two-way standout who also plays special teams for the Miners. Schnitzius rarely comes out of the game and when he does, he’s not happy about it. On the defensive side of the ball, the 6-foot, 200-pound linebacker has a nose for the ball and is second on the team with 50 tackles (22 solo). Schnitzius is also a force on the offensive side, pulling down 12 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns this season, including one thrown by his twin brother James Schnitzius.
Connor Hollister, LB/TE, Bear River
Connor Hollister is in the middle of a Bruins defense that allows just 14.7 points per game. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 225-pound linebacker is second on the team with 45 tackles (34 solo), including five for a loss. Hollister is also an impact player on the offensive side of the ball, pulling down seven catches for 100 yards and one touchdown from his tight end position.
Jimmy Vaughn, OL/DL, Bear River
Jimmy Vaughn is a force in the trenches for Bear River as the 6-foot, 260-pound offensive and defensive lineman is an impact player on both sides of the ball. On the defensive side of the ball Vaughn has 30 tackles (18 solo) to go with two sacks. On the offensive side, he helps spur along the Bear River offensive attack that averages 317.4 yards and 30.7 points per game.
Matthew Harshman, WR, Colfax
Mathew Harshman has been Colfax’s big play guy all season, racking up 41 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in just seven games. The talented receiver is averaging 17.9 yards per catch and more than 100 receiving yards per game. Despite seeing extra attention from opposing defenses, Harshman has been able to get free in every game and make impact. Golden Sierra held Harshman to a season-low three catches earlier this year, but two of those catches went for touchdowns.
Ben O’Lena, WR, Bear River
Ben O’Lena has game breaking speed and has quickly become Bear River’s big play threat in the passing game. O’Lena leads the Bruins with 20 receptions for 397 yards and four touchdowns. O’Lena has topped the 100-yard mark twice this season and averages 19.9 yards per catch.
David O’Brien, RB/DB, Bear River
After Bear River’s leading rusher from a season ago went down with a season-ending injury in the first game of the season, David O’Brien stepped up and led the Bruins to a 6-0 record before himself suffering an injury that will sideline him for a considerable amount of time. Before breaking his finger against Foothill, O’Brien led the Bruin offense with 448 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He was also a talent in the secondary with 10 tackles, an interception and multiple pass breakups.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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