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Progress through struggle

Nevada Union's Mo Nieves runs in for a touchdown against Del Oro.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Friday marked another historical night for the Miners — but for all the wrong reasons.

The Nevada Union football team lost it’s ninth straight this season, a record for futility in a season, and Del Oro set the record for most points ever scored on an NU team (70).

But while the scores are lopsided and the stats are straight out of a video game, if you look close enough, you can see the NU football team getting better.



The great writer and social reformer Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Douglass probably didn’t have high school football in mind when he said that, but it applies none the less.




The Miners have struggled mightily this season, but within that struggle, there has been progress.

In their loss to Del Oro (7-2, 4-0 SFL), the Miners scored 21 points. It was their second-highest point total of the season, and that came against arguably the best team they have faced all season.

The week before that, the Miners put up 42 in a loss to Roseville. It was the first glimpse of what the Miners can do when healthy. In the last two weeks, the Miners have scored 63 points. The previous seven games yielded 64 points.

The Miners ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns against Del Oro, their second-best output behind their 461 yards and five-touchdown performance against Roseville. In their last two games, the Miners have tallied 676 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. The previous seven contests garnered 887 rush yards and five rushing touchdowns.

The difference is the young and talented back field of Travis Owens, Mo Nieves and Ed Dardon is finally clicking with the offensive line, making for some good old-fashioned and productive wing-T football.

At first, the offense struggled, being both young and undersized, but has progressed, helping to lay the foundation for the 2014 season.

The progression of the Miners isn’t limited to the football field either.

The Miners have also progressed in the eyes of the community with a steady stream of civil service throughout the season coupled with a higher level of accountability. Several student-athletes on the football team were forced to sit out the first eight games of the season due to academics — they struggled through the season, watching from the sidelines as their teammates took pounding after pounding. But after that long struggle, the players rejoined the team with good academic marks. Progress through struggle.

While Friday may be the end of this season, the Miners have progressed both on and off the field and have already laid down the first building blocks for next season.

Rocklin 31, Roseville 14

The Thunder and their league-leading defense held the Tigers to just two scores in the first half and scored 17 in the fourth to get the win.

With the game knotted at 14 at halftime, Rocklin’s defense turned up the heat, and its offense punched in a pair of rushing touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth to win.

Rocklin’s sophomore sensation, Evyn Holtz, was the difference, rushing 30 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Holtz has 977 yards and eight touchdowns. Holtz is second in the SFL in rush yards behind Del Oro’s Dylan Kainrath (1,099 yards, 16 touchdowns).

In SFL play, Rocklin’s offense is averaging 40.5 points per game, while its defense allows just 8.8 points per league game.

The win for Rocklin sets up a winner-take-all situation for the SFL title this Friday between the Thunder (7-2, 4-0 SFL) and Del Oro (7-2, 4-0 SFL).

Granite Bay 35, Woodcreek 7

The Grizzlies got four passing scores from senior quarterback Josh Neal, and their defense kept Woodcreek in check as Granite Bay stayed very much in the playoff hunt.

Neal, the SFL’s leading passer, was efficient with 11-of-18 passing for 198 yards and four touchdowns. Neal now has 1,845 yards passing, 21 touchdowns and just four picks this season.

Junior Brian Graber was Neal’s main man Friday with five catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns, including a 63-yarder.

Granite Bay (6-3, 2-2 SFL) takes on NU Friday, and Woodcreek (3-6, 1-3 SFL) closes with Roseville.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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