Zuri Berry: Miners hope to bring back the magic | TheUnion.com

Zuri Berry: Miners hope to bring back the magic

Almost a year later, there’s a new buzz going around Nevada Union football that’s keeping the optimism high and the negativity at bay.

There’s a reason to be cheery for the new season and a reason to forget memories of last year’s mediocrity, a 4-6 season in which the Miners won only three games on the field. Head coach Dave Humphers feels renewed in his 18th season at the helm of the blue and gold.

He’s the longest tenured and most winningest coach of Nevada Union history. So after being around the block a few times, going through some good winter, spring and summer camps, he’s hyped about the prospect of this season, this team and their energy.

“We think this team has a chance to be good,” Humphers said. “Our guys have been working extremely hard. They’re a group that really likes each other. They’ve been through a lot together this summer. I’m extremely happy with them. On top of that, we have some very exciting players.”

Look forward to seeing more of half backs Cameron Ryan, Cole Stanford and quarterback Broughan Jantz with newbies Juan Espinoza and Duncan Chapple in the mix. Humphers thinks these kids will excite the base this year, leading the Miners to a much a better season.

This year is different from so many years past because of the obvious need to get back to the “Miner Magic” bestowed upon this community in the early part of this decade. Talking to Humphers, you can tell there is no pressure to win a section championship anytime soon, but instead be successful with this season and have a strong outing.

“I know we will face our highs and lows and different challenges this year,” Humphers said. “But the key to having a great season is how well the team sticks together through the highs and lows and how they bond.”

Defining success early on can be critical. Last year, there was a never-ending cycle of figuring out what were the problems in a sputtering offense, and what were the holes in a gaping defense. As the season wore on, and the playoffs became less and less attainable, players eventually bought into Humphers’ positive nature and started responding with vigor and enthusiasm. The Miners won their last game of the season emphatically 41-25 over Valley.

This time, the Miners have that kind of energy going from the start.

“Guys are just really gung ho about this season and about getting better,” he said. “And you need that on any team. I’m just really happy with the way things have progressed.”

It also helps that they’ve banged out a couple of details about who is who and who plays where in the lineups. Jantz has been “given the keys” at the quarterback spot and John Wivholm, who split time with Jantz last year, will be playing cornerback for the Miners.

There appears to be a clear focus from all parties about getting the job done and making the team better.

It’s good to know that such details have been addressed before going into a stacked preseason against new opponents Ponderosa (9-3 last year), Cesar Chavez (7-3), and Rocklin (8-2), with Natomas (1-9) being the only school that appears to have struggled. The preseason could very much well dictate how the rest of the season is played out. And even more so, it’s good to know the players are dedicated to improving from last year so early on.

But the secret word on the street is that these kids are unquestionably more talented than last year due to their hard work and diligence. And if the whispers have any truth to them, NU will have plenty of Friday nights to be excited about. Their competition is still top notch and their expectations are in tune with their talent.

It’s easy to see why Humphers is so gung ho about new beginnings.

Next week: Bruins football.

Read more about Nevada Union’s football team in the upcoming football insert Sept. 5.

Zuri Berry is a sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. You can contact Zuri via e-mail at zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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