PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union wraps up rough season with loss to Rocklin |

PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union wraps up rough season with loss to Rocklin

Nevada Union's Kase Scott carries the ball during a game against Rocklin Friday night.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Season at a GLAnce

Nevada Union

Overall record: 1-9

SFL record: 0-6, last

Points per game: 16

Points allowed per game: 40

Leading passer: J. Schnitzius – 745 yards, 4 TDs, 7 INT

Leading rusher: T. Nielson – 121 carries, 565 yards, 6 TDs

Leading receiver: A. Link – 14 rec., 304 yards, 1 TD

Leading tackler: J. Houlihan – 96 tackles (41 solo)

Moments of “Miner Magic” were few and far between for Nevada Union during the 2015 prep football season, but that didn’t stop the Miners from battling until the bitter end.

Nevada Union (1-9, 0-6 Sierra Foothill League) closed a rather dismal season on somewhat of a strong note Friday night, scoring a touchdown on its final offensive possession of the season. But, there wasn’t much else to celebrate during a 42-13 loss to SFL foe Rocklin (7-3, 4-2 SFL).

Senior running back Kase Scott led the Miners with 34 rush yards and two rushing touchdowns, coming on Nevada Union’s opening and closing possessions. Tyler Nielson added 41 yards rushing as the Miners totaled 149 yards on the ground and 57 through the air.

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore Justin Houlihan led the way with 11 tackles, senior captain Andrew Schnitzius had 10 tackles, senior Ryan Elkins wrapped up a sack, and junior Andrew Link snagged an interception.

Sierra Foothill League futility

Nevada Union’s loss was their sixth-straight to close out the season and extends an SFL losing streak to 19 games, dating back to 2012. Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan is yet to win a league game in three years as the varsity head coach and is 4-26 overall.

By the numbers

The Miners were overwhelming underdogs in many of their games this season, and did little to shake that status. Nevada Union went 1-3 in their non-league schedule, earning a win over Pioneer (3-7), but went 0-6 in league play and was outscored 261-68 by SFL opponents.

Nevada Union’s defense struggled much of the season, holding only one team to less than 20 points. On average, the Miners allowed 40 points per game, while scoring just 16 points per game this season.

Stiff competition

Those incredibly lopsided numbers do have something to do with the brutal schedule Nevada Union played. In addition to the five playoff-bound league opponents (Folsom, Oak Ridge, Rocklin, Del Oro, and Granite Bay) the Miners played, they also faced playoff teams in Placer, Pleasant Grove and Lincoln, making it eight out of 10 NU opponents that advanced into the postseason.

Graduating talented

The Miners bid farewell to a handful of talented seniors in Scott (349 rush yards, four touchdowns, 63 tackles, two interceptions), Andrew Schnitzius (12 catches, 143 yards, two touchdowns, 66 tackles), Bryan Sparks (31 tackles), Elkins (33 tackles, three sacks) and senior quarterback James Schnitzius.

“I felt for them all year,” Dennis Houlihan said of his seniors. “They really tried to be great leaders and get us going in the right direction and we just were a little short with talent matching up with other talent in our league. They worked hard every day, and every down.”

Youth movement

The Miners have a group of talented sophomores who all left their mark this season.

Linebacker and running back Justin Houlihan finished the season with a team-high 96 tackles (41 solo), including four for a loss. Justin Houlihan also had 202 yards rushing this season to go with four rushing touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Nielson led the Miners on the ground this season with 565 rushing yards and six ground scores. Nielson also caught eight balls for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Fellow sophomore running back Owen Day tallied 345 rush yards and two ground scores, and sophomore wide receiver Hayden Fay was second on the team with 12 catches for 211 yards and one touchdown.

Sophomore defensive lineman Drew Heaps, who stands just 5-foot, 6-inches tall and 163-pounds, impressed in his five games of action with 19 tackles (14 solo), including five for a loss.

Owen Dal Bon, a sophomore safety and quarterback, got some time under center this season, throwing 13-for-36 for 164 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Dal Bon also made 26 tackles this season.

Other non-seniors that stood out were junior running back and linebacker Nick Whittlesey (32 tackles), junior defensive back Jared Finau (49 tackles), junior offensive lineman Bronson Ryberg and junior wide receiver and defensive back Andrew Link (14 catches, 304 yards, one touchdown, 13 tackles, two interceptions).

“I think all the experience for our juniors and sophomores is what we were hoping for, we had guys playing both ways that are sophomores and that experience will be there next year,” Dennis Houlihan said. “They will play above their level and that’s where were hoping to see those dividends come through.”

Back to the drawing board

Even though the 2015 season closed just days ago for Nevada Union, Dennis Houlihan said he’s getting right back to work for the 2016 season.

When asked when does preparation start for next season, Houlihan said, “Immediately.”

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

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