Football season kicks off Friday

Lowe now lone head coach for Zebras
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Ken Lowe is now the lone head coach of the Lincoln High varsity football team as Don Johnson is gone. The duo were co-head coaches last year but Johnson’s schedule was too full for him to remain involved with the program. Lowe and the Zebras open the season against visiting Woodland at 7:30 p.m. Friday. “It’s a lot of work and also exciting,” said Lowe, whose team won its first three Pioneer Valley League games last season but ended up finishing with a league record of 3-3. “We ended being without our quarterback (Tyler Freymond) for the last three games,” Lowe said. “I would say that I’m cautiously optimistic. Two out of our first three games we play higher division teams, Woodland is Division II and Monterey Trail is DI. So we will definitely have some challenges. We are a little bit young but I feel good about the crew that we have.” Lincoln, which is DIV, will also play non-PVL games against Wheatland and Marysville. The Zebras first two games are at home (Lincoln hosts Wheatland at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19). “It’s very important for us (to get off to a good start) just because every game, there is no (easy opponent) on our schedule,” Lowe said. “And it’s been a while since we’ve won our opener, so trying to get off to a 1-0 start is big for us in a game that is tough. I think we can compete with Woodland. It will definitely be a challenging game.” The Zebras will have plenty of experience on offense as Freymond, a senior, returns at quarterback and seniors Matt Paul (running back) and Ray Lyons (fullback) also return to their positions. Senior Matt Holt returns at tight end while seniors Casey O’Conner and Tyler Baumgartner provide some experience on the offensive line. Senior Mike Rover will start at center while juniors JJ Castillo and Jacob Tryon will also start on the line. Freymond’s targets at receiver will be senior Tyler Linarez and junior Todd Hinnebusch. Junior running back Alex Cowden, who didn’t play junior varsity ball last year, is also expected to make an impact on offense. Lowe expects Tyler Rusconi, who returns to his starting position at middle linebacker, to be the leader of the defense. Holt will play outside linebacker again while Castillo and Paul will also be key linebackers for the Zebras. “Holt and JJ are really ends and linebackers and the other two are linebackers and cover guys,” said Lowe, who noted that juniors Johnny Yoshikawa and Danny Walsh will also get some time at linebacker. Junior Ray Caster and senior Tejinder Bains will start at safety while Hinnebusch will start at cornerback. Linarez is battling with a couple other teammates to earn the other starting position at cornerback. Tryon, O’Conner and Matt Lippincott will play on Lincoln’s defensive line.