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Ready for stretch run

Dave Humphers did admit to spending some time in front of the TV this week, as Nevada Union High School was not in session due to the annual Fall Break.

But it wasn’t like NU’s head coach was catching up on the afternoon soap operas he misses while teaching PE classes each day.

Or was he?



“No, no,” Humphers said with a laugh, “but I am having a Grant and Granite Bay Film Fest.”

As the Miners head down the backstretch of the 2004 season, it has become clear that the Metro Conference championship has come down to a three-way race, including Humphers’ Miners and the two teams he spent so much time reviewing this week.




Before NU fans worry that their coach is overlooking this week’s opponent, rest assured that Humphers has mixed some Hiram Johnson High into his viewing.

It’s just that, at this point of the season, the Miners are more concerned with their own play – and for good reason.

“Improving our play every single week, that’s our mission,” Humphers said. “We’ve got to reduce the turnovers and the penalties we are committing – along with improving our tackling. We’ve got some work to do.

“It’s kind of an amazing thing. Through the first four games, we went fairly penalty-free. But in the last two games, there’s been a dramatic change.”

In last Friday’s 35-14 win at Yuba City, NU had four turnovers and was flagged 10 times for 95 yards. That total actually was an improvement over the week prior, when NU was penalized 12 times for 115 yards in a 34-0 route of Kennedy. But in a tighter contest last Friday, and with the flags nullifying several big offensive plays, Miner fans loudly voiced their opposing opinions and frustrations with the officiating crew.

Were they right?

“Some of the penalties that were called,” Humphers said, “we could see them on the film.

“Two of the long punt returns were called back because of clipping penalties that were unnecessary. We’ve been called for blocking in the back numerous times and now we’re doing the things it takes to improve on that.”

Nevada Union (5-1 overall, 3-0 Metro) welcomes a Johnson team (2-4, 1-1) that snapped a three-game losing streak last Friday with a 42-21 pasting of McClatchy, which remains winless on the season and in the Metro cellar with an 0-6 mark.

Johnson is led by senior running back Anthony Harrell (5 feet, 8 inches, 151 pounds), who showed how potent his speed can be in a 22-14, week-2 win over West Campus. In that victory, Harrell racked up 311 rushing yards on 29 carries.

“They’re struggling, but they are talented,” Humphers said of the Warriors. “They have as much speed as anyone in our league.”

Nevada Union’s defense will look to keep that speed under wraps Friday. Humphers said he continues to see improvement on that side of the ball and expects further progress this week.

“We can play a small, quick group with Thomas Brindley (5-10, 165, Jr.) at nose, or go with Zach McCasland (6-0, 205, Sr.) and Shane Freeman (5-11, 265, Jr.) to plug some holes. Our linebackers also are improving. Nick Cantrell (5-11, 170, Sr.) moved to strong-inside linebacker and now he’s averaging over 10 tackles a game.”

NU’s offense continues to put up the points – posting an average of 39.8 points per game – led by the Herrera twins, who have combined for 966 yards and 17 touchdowns this fall. Ryan Herrera, a senior fullback, leads the team in rushing and scoring with 535 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“Offensively, Brennan McFadden (6-4, 265, Sr.) has been a devastating blocker for us at tight end,” Humphers said. “Matt Metter (5-9, 230, Sr.) and R.C. Cameron (5-10, 180, Sr.) played a great ballgame against Yuba City, as did our entire offensive line.”

THE SKINNY

Opponent: Hiram Johnson Warriors

Site: NU’s Hooper Stadium

Date: Today

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

2004 record: 2-4 overall, 1-1 Metro Conference

2003 record: 2-8 overall, 1-5 Metro Conference

2003 League finish: Sixth

All-time series: NU leads 3-0

Last Meeting: 10/11/03 (NU won 34-0)

Warriors to watch: QB Brian Meier (6-3, 180, Jr.); RB Anthony Harrell (5-8, 151, Sr.), WR Chris Lopez (5-7, 160, Sr.); WR Shane Broushard (5-8, 158); DB Marcus Schaffer (5-10, 151).

Miners to watch: QB Ty Smith (6-4, 185, Jr.) 35-61-5, 407, 3 TD; FB Ryan Herrera (5-8, 235, Sr.) 63-535, 14 TD; HB Rich Herrera (5-8, 225, Sr.) 52-431, 3 TD; WR Josh Noxon (5-11, 170, Sr.) 17-249, 2 TD; LB Mike McClain (5-10, 170, Jr.) 49 tackles, 1 sack; DB James Brindley (5-10, 170, Jr.) 44 tackles, 2 INT; DE Andrew Jackson (6-5, 230, Jr.) 32 tackles, 2 sacks; LB Nick Cantrell (5-11, 170, Sr.) 3 sacks.


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