PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union hits road to face Folsom |

PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union hits road to face Folsom

Nevada Union's Tyler Nielson runs the ball against Woodcreek earlier this season. Nielson was named to the All-Sierra Foothill League Second Team.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Know & Go

What: Nevada Union (1-5, 0-2 SFL) at Folsom (6-0, 2-0 SFL)

When: 7:15 p.m., Friday

Where: Folsom High School, 1655 Iron Point Rd, Folsom

Follow along: On Twitter @TheUnionSports or online at

Six games into the 2015 high school football season and Nevada Union has one win.

With an away game against defending CIF Division I State champion Folsom on the docket tonight and three more difficult Sierra Foothill League games to follow, the road ahead is nothing short of daunting.

Head coach Dennis Houlihan is aware of what the remainder of the season has in store for his team.

“We’re going to be an underdog in every game in our league, and we know that,” Houlihan said after a 52-10 loss to Del Oro in his team’s SFL opener. “We will continue to fight and get better.”

Tonight the Miners face off with one of the biggest, baddest dogs on the block, the Folsom Bulldogs. Folsom (6-0, 2-0 SFL) is riding a 22-game winning streak, and has not lost to a Sac-Joaquin Section team since 2011. Nevada Union was no match for Folsom a year ago, losing by a score of 63-6 after trailing 49-0 at halftime.

Facing Folsom

The Bulldogs still have plenty of bite despite the loss of national-record setting quarterback Jake Browning, who now starts for the University of Washington. Stepping into Browning’s exceptionally large shoes has been senior quarterback Jake Jeffrey, who may not be putting up the numbers Browning did a year ago, but has shown he has what it takes to win.

Jeffery can beat defenses with his arm and legs, amassing 1,527 passing yards and connecting on 71 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns to only two interceptions. Jeffrey also has 299 yards rushing to go with four ground scores.

Jeffrey’s favorite target this season has been Christian Huber (33 catches, 542 yards, six touchdowns), but he spreads the ball around, completing passes to 10 different receivers this season.

Senior running backs Tre Green (358 rush yards, eight touchdowns) and Roger Neal (202 yards, three touchdowns) are the main threats out of Bulldog backfield.

Defensively Folsom is stout, holding opponents to just 16.5 points per game. The Bulldogs have been especially strong in their two SFL games, holding Granite Bay to just 14 points and shutting out Del Oro a week ago.

The game between Nevada Union and Folsom kicks off at 7:15 p.m. tonight in Folsom.

Brick by brick

For Nevada Union (1-5, 0-2 SFL), a program that boasts the motto “brick by brick,” this season has been about laying a foundation for future seasons.

The current Miners team is led by a group of sophomore and junior starters at key positions, none more impactful than sophomore running back Tyler Nielson on offense and sophomore linebacker Justin Houlihan on defense.

Offensively, the Miners have their underclassmen carrying much of the load. Through six games Nevada Union has run the ball 237 times for 1,046 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Sophomores and juniors have accounted for 203 carries, 983 yards and all 12 touchdowns.

Nielson has been the Miners most consistent offensive threat this season, rushing for 406 yards and six touchdowns, and also grabbing five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“The experience he is getting right now is really important for him for the future,” Houlihan said. “We may not be blocking real well right now or creating big holes, but he’s finding creases to get tough yards. As a sophomore its unheard of the way he’s running and he will see the benefits in the next year or two.”

In addition to Nielson, the Miners have seen flashes of talent from sophomores Owen Day (333 rush yards, two touchdowns), Hayden Fay (eight catches, 166 yards, one touchdown), and Justin Houlihan (144 rush yards, four rush touchdowns). Junior wide receiver Andrew Link (10 catches, 211 yards, one touchdown) and junior running back Nick Whittlesey have also shown the ability to be playmakers this season.

There is no shortage of youth on the defensive side of the ball as well with Justin Houlihan heading the charge from his middle linebacker position. Justin Houlihan, at 5-foot, 11-inch, 200 pounds, has shown he belongs at the varsity level, leading the Miners in tackles with 54 (24 solo).

Sophomore defensive lineman Drew Heaps (17 tackles, 12 solo, five for a loss), junior Jordon O’Hara (18 tackles, sack), junior Jared Finau (25 tackles, 14 solo), and junior Jonathan Weaver are all young defensive playmakers with bright futures as well.

The youthful Miners are peppered with the senior leadership of quarterback James Schnitzius, linebacker/tight end Andrew Schnitzius, offensive lineman Anthony Carcamo, linebacker Kase Scott and defensive back Bryan Sparks.

The young Miners will face their toughest test to date when they take on the experienced and high-powered Bulldogs tonight.

Around the SFL

Del Oro (2-4, 1-1 SFL) hosts Rocklin (3-2, 0-1 SFL). Oak Ridge (5-1, 2-0 SFL) travels to Granite Bay (3-2, 0-1 SFL). And, Woodcreek (5-1, 1-1 SFL) has a bye.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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