PREP FOOTBALL: Miners, Bruins hit the road in search of league wins
The show must go on.
Despite the widespread power outages and local school closings throughout the week, the football teams from Nevada Union and Bear River are set to hit the road and battle it out with their respective league foes Friday night.
“We are fortunate our principal, athletic director and superintendent are so proactive and supportive that we have been able to practice (this week) and play our game Friday night, no matter if the power is going or not,” said Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks.
Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie confirmed the Bruins game is on as well, adding, “It’s been a weird week, for sure.”
Both the Miners and Bruins opened league play last week with matchups against perennial powers and it didn’t go the way either team had hoped.
The Bruins’ lost their star quarterback Tre Maronic to injury, and lost the game, 48-17, to the still undefeated Center Cougars.
The Miners led at halftime against defending league champ and rival Placer only to get outscored 22-7 down the stretch and lose 28-14.
Both teams have put last week’s setbacks behind them and are back on the hunt for a league win today. The Bruins head to Olivehurst to face the Lindhurst Blazers, and the Miners travel to Roseville to take on the Oakmont Vikings.
“I always tell (my players), ‘You can’t focus on last Friday night’s disappointments or successes, you always have to be moving forward’ and that’s a challenge,” said Sparks. “But our kids are focused and ready to go.”
Here’s a look at tonight’s matchups:
Nevada Union at Oakmont, 7 p.m., FRIDAY
The Miners (4-2 overall, 0-1 Foothill Valley League) had their four-game win streak snapped last week, and are looking to get back on track against an Oakmont squad, which saw its five game win streak end at the hands of Lincoln.
“Oakmont is impressive,” said Sparks “They don’t have any guys with big, big numbers but they get the job done.”
The Vikings (5-1, 0-1 FVL) come into the contest averaging 31.5 points per game while allowing just 12 per game. They are led by dual-threat junior quarterback Hayden Abbruzzese, who had thrown for 750 yards and eight touchdowns, and also rushed for 435 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Sparks said of Abbruzzese.
Oakmont also has talented offensive players in senior running back Kane Rosko (434 rush yards, 226 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns) and junior wide receiver James Mintmier (298 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns).
Looking to contain the Vikings attack will be an NU defense which has allowed just 13.2 points per game.
NU’s defense is led by senior linebacker Duke Morales (48 tackles, 2 sacks) and sophomore linebacker Gabe Baker (35 tackles). The Miners also boast a secondary which has snagged 13 interceptions this season, and a pass rush that has accounted for 12 sacks through six games.
When it comes to offense, Sparks said his team’s approach is a simple one.
“I’m a firm believer in: the tougher the team, the simpler the game plan,” he said. “We’re going to do what we do best and give Oakmont a healthy dose of Jaxon (Horne), Tino (Sanchez-Lane) and Gabe (Baker). We will sprinkle the pass in when we need to, but I don’t think we need to get too creative.”
Horne leads the Miners offense with 692 rush yards, 175 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns. Baker (279 rush yards, 5 touchdowns) and Sanchez-Lane (237 rush yards, 2 touchdowns) have also been effective with the ball in their hands.
“Defensively (Oakmont) puts a lot of guys in the box and forces you to throw,” Sparks said. “It could be a very challenging night for us … We’re going to have to play really well on offense.”
A season ago when NU and Oakmont met up at Hooper Stadium, it was the Vikings jumping out to a 26-0 first half lead and holding on to win 29-20.
Bear River at Lindhurst, 7 p.m., FRIDAY
The Bruins (5-1, 0-1 Pioneer Valley League) have dealt with small roster numbers and injuries to key players before, and will once again be leaning on their ability to adapt on the gridiron.
“Everybody is going to have to pick up some slack,” said Savoie. “It’s not just one guy, it’s a multitude of guys. It’s going to be a team effort.”
Maronic, a standout on offense, defense and special teams, suffered a collarbone injury in the first half of the game against Center and is likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Savoie said there is a possibility of Maronic returning if the team reaches the playoffs.
“As far as what we do offensively, it doesn’t change a ton. We’re just going to have to do it without Tre, and that’s a tall order, but our kids are up for it.”
Bear River will lean on offensive playmakers Colton Jenkins, Ryder Kiggins, Zach Fink, Joe Knowlton and Jacob Ayestaran to power the Bruins attack.
“We need to do what we always set out to do and that is to run the ball with confidence on offense and play really good defense,” said Savoie. “Our typical goals remain the same. We want to score 28. If we play good defense, 28 is usually good enough for us to win. Play good defense and score once a quarter, if we can do that I think we’ll be OK.”
Bear River does expect a couple of key players back from injury this week as well, but Savoie estimated they would suit up only 20 players for the game.
The Bruins will be facing a Lindhurst (2-4, 0-1 PVL) team coming off a 61-38 loss to Marysville last week.
The Blazers are averaging 18 points per game this season and allowing 36.3 per game. They are led by senior quarterback Adrian Armendariz (205 pass yards, 2 touchdowns, 135 rush yards) and sophomore running back Simon Enochs (332 rush yards, 4 touchdowns).
A season ago, the Bruins barreled through the Blazers, leading 42-0 at halftime en route to a 49-0 victory.
“We need to step up and take care of business with the hopes that maybe in the playoffs we get Tre back,” said Savoie. “We’ll see what happens. That’s out of our hands. We can’t control that, but we can control what we do between now and then, and that’s the focus.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4232.
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