Jr. Zebras earn split with Granite Bay Jr. Grizzlies

By: Greg Easter/Special to the Messenger
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GRANITE BAY _ The Lincoln Jr. Zebras went on the road to match up with the Granite Bay Jr. Grizzlies as both teams held their own and ended up splitting their four games with two wins and two losses apiece Saturday. MITEY MITES (not scored) After Granite Bay put up the first points, Lincoln’s Caden Noonan and Gabriel Burns ran the ball downfield using some fine blocking by Karsen Seaman. Noonan eventually scored and Joaquin Miller rushed for the point after touchdown. Burns then found the end zone on a 42-yard run with Devon Henry running for the extra point. The Jr. Grizzlies also found pay dirt but couldn’t convert the PAT. In the second half, Jake Hamilton took up the load with runs of 15 and 40 yards. Hamilton had a touchdown called back, but Henry eventually ran it in. Henry then intercepted a pass to set up a Jr. Zebras’ drive, but it stalled on Granite Bay’s five. The Jr. Grizzlies then responded with a 95-yard jaunt to the end zone. Hamilton put the cap on the game by going 22 yards for a TD with just over a minute left in the game. JR. PEEWEES Determined to hang onto first place in the standings, the Jr. Zebras’ Grady Manley took the ball down to Granite Bay’s 1-yard line on a 52-yard run. Tommy Turner finished the job for a 6-0 Lincoln lead. The Jr. Zebras’ defense did its part after Nicolas Miller tackled a Jr. Grizzly’s runner at the Lincoln three. Seth Sampson then rallied the troops with two successive tackles to drive Granite Bay back to the 16. That opened the door for a 10-play, 83-yard Lincoln drive highlighted by two completed passes to George Diaz from Turner. Malachi Nelson then took it in with Manley rushing for the PAT for a 13-0 halftime lead. After an exchange of possessions, Nelson then stepped in front of a Granite Bay pass and handed his offense the ball at the Jr. Grizzly’s 16-yard line. Three plays later, Manley was in the end zone for a 19-0 lead at the end of three periods. After regaining the ball, Diaz had a 33-yard scoring run called back. Turner then hit Nelson for a 43-yard score and that stuck. Manley waltzed in behind the blocking of Cade Culepper and Tyler Scheer for the conversion attempt. Burns then killed a Granite Bay drive with a fumble recovery and Lincoln called in its reserves. Now at quarterback, Miller went 29 yards for six and the defense did the rest as Anthony Casaray held up a Jr. Grizzly’s runner until help arrived. That ended the game. PEEWEES The first half proved a classic defensive battle with drive-killing fumbles being recovered by Lincoln’s Deven Coffer, Christoher Hernandez and Nat Labrado. The Jr. Zebras then went on a drive sustained by runs both inside and out. Running backs Antonio Nevarez and Jacob Lemus pushed the ball down to the Jr.Grizzly’s 17 with two seconds remaining in the half. Lincoln’s Kyle Easter then rolled out and hit Miles Pleich in the corner of the end zone for a 6-0 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Easter again burned Green Bay on a 16-yard strike to Lemus. It was set up by a 52-yard march with Nevarez following the blocks of Colton Jones, Diego Miller, Ethan Guardarrama, Dylan Jacobs and Labrado. Leading by 12, Nevarez bulled in from three yards out after Easter and Hernandez connected on a fourth down pass for 25 yards to set up the score. Nevarez gave the Jr. Zebras a 26-0 lead with his PAT kick. Desperate, Granite Bay went to the air only to have it intercepted by Coffer. To seal the victory, quarterback Luke Wiley scored on a keeper and Nevaez added the kick for a 34-0 Lincoln win and a tighter hold on first place in the USA Sierra Valley League. JR. MIDGETS Granite Bay returned the favor of last year’s defeat by handing the Jr. Midgets their first loss of the season. The Jr. Grizzlies recovered a Lincoln fumble and went 35 yards in six plays to open up an eight-point lead. After the Granite Bay defense put the Jr. Zebras in a hole, they capitalized by returning a punt 32 yards for another six. The kick was good and the Young Bears were up 14-0 at the half. The Lincoln offense came alive in the third quarter when Preston Eklund threw a 35-yard scoring strike to Ryan Graham. Tyler Eslinger added the kick and closed the gap to six. After a Jr. Zebras’ onside kicked went to Granite Bay, the Jr. Grizzlies came down to make the score 22-8. Eklund and Eslinger again hooked up to try and mount a Lincoln drive, but to no avail. The Jr. Midgets tumbled from first place and will host No. 1 Grant next week. MIDGETS Both clubs came in at 3-2 but only Granite Bay would improve on that and break the deadlock for second place in the USA SVL standings. After the Jr. Grizzlies jumped out to a 13-0 lead, the Jr. Zebras fought back to narrow the gap. Lincoln’s Gabriel Triano returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield. After a sustained drive, Triano ran it in for six. Chad Bagwell added the 2-point kick and Lincoln trailed by only five heading into intermission. In the second, it was all Granite Bay. The Jr. Grizzlies would score three more TDs and add a safety to take the contest 37-8. The Grant Jr. Pacers come to town this week with Mitey Mites action beginning at 9 a.m. There’s plenty of food at the snack bar so plan to visit Edward Alexander Grey Sports Complex this Saturday and make a day of it. _ Greg Easter is a Jr. Zebras’ coach and News Messenger Sports contributor