PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union set to face Placer in home opener
KNOW & GO
What: Nevada Union vs. Placer
When: 8 p.m., Friday
Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High School, 11761 Ridge Rd, Grass Valley
Follow along: on Twitter at @WalterLFordIII and online at TheUnion.com
The Wing-T offense will be on full display at Hooper Stadium as Nevada Union and Placer face off in a non-league bout today.
The two foothill teams known for their prowess running the Wing-T, an offensive scheme that uses misdirection and fakes to gain an advantage over the defense, will face off for the fourth straight season and for the last time as non-league opponents. Both NU and Placer will relocate to the Tri-County Conference next year.
“When you’re playing a team that runs the same offense, it comes down to, can we push them and be a little more physical than them to continue our drives,” said Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan. “Both teams are going to recognize plays. We will recognize theirs and they will recognize ours, and it comes down to execution.”
Placer executed their offense with great efficiency in their season opener, a 49-30 win over Pleasant Grove. In that game, the Hillmen rushed for 302 yards and tallied another 158 through the air on just five completions.
Leading the Placer attack is senior running back Mario Perez, who tallied 109 rushing yards on 12 carries a week ago. Perez is just one of several Placer backs with big play capabilities as four different backs scored touchdowns last week and as a group they averaged 8.9 yards per carry.
Despite giving up 41 points in a loss to Antelope in the opener, Houlihan said he’s confident his defense will have a better showing against Placer.
“I think our defense is looking forward to lining up against Placer this week,” he said. “Our linebackers read the Wing-T really well. We want to put them in third and longs and try to stop the run right away. We need to tackle better and we want to control the line of scrimmage.”
Nevada Union’s Wing-T offense was able to move the ball in their loss to Antelope, but just couldn’t finish off drives and cash in for points. Despite driving into their opponents 30-yard line six different times, NU scored only 15 points.
“We want to be able to finish our drives,” Houlihan said. “We were able to move the ball. We didn’t punt once and we were in position to come away with points, but we didn’t finish. Offensively, we want to finish our drives and come away with points.”
As a team the Miners rushed for 209 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry against Antelope.
FAY IN PLAY
The Miners got some good news this week when junior running back Dawson Fay had his one-game suspension dropped after an appeal Tuesday. Fay, who led the Miners in rushing with 91 yards and two touchdowns against Antelope, was ejected in the fourth quarter of the game after a skirmish broke out. If a player is ejected from a game, they will also be suspended from the following week’s game according to Sac-Joaquin Section rules. Fay was the only player ejected, but after the Section viewed video of the incident, the ejection was thrown out and Fay was reinstated for this week’s game.
GOING TO BE A HOT ONE
In anticipation of high temperatures, Nevada Union and Placer have agreed to move the varsity game back to an 8 p.m. start. The freshmen will play at 6 p.m. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 90s throughout the day, according to http://www.wunderground.com.
TESTING THE NEW TURF
The new synthetic turf in Hooper Stadium will see its first high school game action tonight.
“The boys are very excited,” Houlihan said. “It’s really nice. You can definitely tell the difference.”
The more than $600,000 turf was installed this summer, replacing the old one, which was put in place in 2006.
The new turf is one of several Hooper Stadium upgrades in the past few years, including a new track and new scoreboard.
The rivalry between Nevada Union and Placer reignited in 2014, and they have faced each other each year since. The first two matchups were blowouts, with NU knocking off Placer in Auburn in 2014 and the Hillmen returning the favor in 2015 on NU’s home turf. Last year’s contest was a thriller, with the Miners rallying from a 12-0 fourth quarter deficit to win 16-12 after a pair of passing touchdowns from Owen Dal Bon to Hayden Fay, both of whom are back this season. Of note: since the rivalry returned in 2014, the away team has won each time.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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