PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union hosts Del Oro on Community Heroes Night |

PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union hosts Del Oro on Community Heroes Night

Nevada Union's Hayden Fay catches a pass during a game against Rocklin at Hooper Stadium. Fay and the Miners will take on Del Oro tonight.
Laura Mahaffy/ |


What: Nevada Union (2-3) vs. Del Oro (5-0)

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High School

Special event: Community Heroes Night

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In addition to hosting the undefeated Del Oro Golden Eagles tonight, the Nevada Union football team will also honor those in this community that go above and beyond to keep it safe.

It is Community Heroes Night at Hooper Stadium where the Miners will take time to celebrate members of law enforcement, Fire, EMS, military and veterans.

“We are grateful to live in this town and support those who give their lives everyday,” said NU head coach Dennis Houlihan. “This is a great community and we like to say thanks to those who make sure it stays that way.”

Admission to the game will be free for “Community Heroes” who come in uniform or have their service ID.

“We are humbled to honor the men and women who stand on the front lines for our community and our country,” said NU athletic director Jeff Dellis.

On the field, the Miners have a stiff test against their Sierra Foothill League foe and what some consider the top-team in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Del Oro is the Sacramento Bee’s No. 1 ranked team and comes into Friday night’s game on the heels of a 42-21 victory over Granite Bay. Del Oro, which returned many key players from its Small Schools Open Division CIF State Championship run a season ago, is currently riding a 13-game winning streak that dates back to last season.

“They are so athletic,” said Houlihan. “They use tons of formations to put their athletes in position to make a play on your athletes.”

The Golden Eagles (5-0, 1-0 SFL) have plenty of playmakers and it all starts with senior quarterback Stone Smartt. The 6-foot, 4-inch, 198 pound signal caller is a threat both through the air and on the ground. So far this season, Smartt has completed 66 percent of his passes for 968 yards and nine passing touchdowns. On the ground, Smartt has 231 rush yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target by far is senior Mason Hurst, who has 30 catches for 592 yards and five touchdowns. No other player on Del Oro has more than five catches this season.

Del Oro is also strong on the ground, averaging 205 rush yards per game. Leading the ground attack is senior Camrion Davis with 368 yards and seven touchdowns.

Slowing the multi-faceted Del Oro offensive attack will be key if Nevada Union (2-3, 0-1 SFL) looks to upset the Golden Eagles, said Houlihan.

“Defensively, make some plays, stop the run and slow the pass,” he said.

The Del Oro offense is averaging 39 points per game and the defense is allowing a league low 15.4 points per game.

The Miners enter the game on the heels of a 48-35 loss to Rocklin in which NU led 28-21 at halftime. Despite taking the loss, NU’s offense had its best game of the season last week and will look to keep that momentum going. The Miners are averaging 200.2 rush yards per game thanks to the dynamic duo of junior Tyler Nielson and sophomore Hayden Fay. Nielson leads the team in rushing yards with 464 to go with his three rushing touchdowns. Fay has 329 yards to go with seven rushing touchdowns. Both players are averaging at least 6 yards per carry and both can do more than carry the ball. Nielson is second on the team with eight catches for 132 receiving yards and one touchdown. Fay has caught five passes for 69 yards and has also thrown a touchdown pass.

Through the air, Nevada Union has a bonifide deep threat in junior Hayden Fay, who has 20 catches for 435 yards to go with six total touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing). Hayden Fay is averaging 21.8 yards per carry.

NU’s junior quarterback Owen Dal Bon will need to be quick on his feet this week as the Golden Eagles bring the pressure, having already notched 20 sacks this season. Leading the Del Oro defensive rush is 6-foot, 215-pound senior defensive tackle Israel Luna with 6.5 sacks.

Dal Bon threw for a varsity career high of 205 yards last week. For the season, he has 715 passing yards to go with five touchdowns and four interceptions.

The last time NU and Del Oro met up was in Loomis a season ago where the Golden Eagles trounced the Miners 52-10.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at NU’s Hooper Stadium.

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

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