PREP FOOTBALL: Miners head to Santa Cruz for non-league bout with Harbor Pirates
KNOW & GO
What: Nevada Union (1-1) at Harbor (1-1)
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Harbor High School, 300 La Fonda Ave, Santa Cruz
Follow along: On Twitter @WalterLFordIII or on the radio at 830 AM (KNCO)
The Miners are headed to the coast this weekend in search of a unique experience and gridiron prosperity.
“We’ve got guys on this team who have never seen the ocean, and that’s kind of a special thing to be able to share with your team and your coaches,” said Nevada Union football head coach Brad Sparks. “I find those experiences mean a whole lot. They get jazzed up about it … We’re going to spend a little time at the beach and the Boardwalk before we go. I’m going to limit how much they do, but get them out there and have a good time together.”
Two weeks after making the long trek to Napa, Nevada Union’s football team is set to make the more than 200-mile trip to Santa Cruz on Saturday where they will take in some of the sights and face off against the Harbor High School Pirates.
The Miners come into the contest with Harbor on the heels of a bye week, which followed an overtime win over Napa on the road Aug. 30.
“We’re healed up and ready to go,” said Sparks.
After struggling in a season opening loss to Yuba City, NU’s offense got rolling against Napa, thanks in large part to its offensive line.
The Miners in the trenches — senior center David Rueckert, senior tackle Isaiah Carter, junior tackle Ezra Tout, and senior guards Kyler Case and Sammy Slay — paved the way to victory as NU amassed 283 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
“What I really love is what we’ve done on the offensive line,” said Sparks. “(Offensive line coach) Andrew Jackson has done a great job … Up front we’re doing all the right stuff. Probably one of the best offensive lines I’ve had. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”
What made the line’s effort in Napa all the more impressive was how it dominated in overtime.
After NU’s defense forced a turnover, the offense ran four straight rush plays culminating with a 6-yard touchdown run by Jaxon Horne, who finished the game with 225 yards and three ground scores.
“I trust my offensive lineman,” Horne said after the game. “I knew we were going to score.”
Horne has been the benefactor of NU’s strong line play this season, already with 300 rush yards and four touchdowns through two contests. As a team, the Miners are averaging 195.5 yards rushing per game.
The Miners have been far less successful with their passing attack, completing just 32% of their pass attempts and notching only 103 yards through the air.
“We need to throw the ball better, and our guys need to catch the ball better,” said Sparks.
NU’s spread offense will be going up against Harbor’s 4-3 defense, which has allowed just 25 points through two games.
Harbor’s defense is led by 6-foot, 1-inch, 210-pound senior linebacker Garrett Lackey, who leads the team in tackles (30).
Lackey also captains the Pirates on the offensive side of the ball, rushing for a team-best 242 yards on just 24 carries.
“He’s a bruiser,” said Sparks.
Looking to contain Lackey and the rest of the Harbor offense will be an NU defensive unit which has shown promise, but still needs to limit big plays. Of the five touchdowns the Miners’ defense has allowed this season, four have come on plays of 20-yards or more.
Harbor is the only team on the Miners schedule that is different from last season’s lineup. The Pirates landed on the Miners’ schedule after Spanish Springs (Nevada) was dropped. The Miners (1-1) and Pirates (1-1) have never faced off in football before.
“It will be interesting,” said Sparks. “I’m looking forward to playing them. That’s for sure.”
The Pirates will be NU’s second straight opponent from outside the Sac-Joaquin Section. Harbor competes in the Central Coast Section. Napa is a member of the North Coast Section.
Kickoff for the varsity game is set for 5 p.m. Saturday. The junior varsity game gets going at 3 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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