Jr. Zebras look strong against tough Jr. Hillmen clubs

Lincoln garners three wins
By: Greg Easter/Special to the News Messenger
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AUBURN _ The Lincoln Jr. Zebras Sierra Valley USA League opener was expected to be competitive against longtime nemesis Placer Jr. Hillmen last weekend at LeFebvre/Dragila Stadium. MITEY MITES The morning began with Lincoln’s 6-8-year-olds against the much improved Jr. Hillmen. The Jr. Zebras started with a strong defense stopping the home team. The scores are not recorded in Mitey Mites play. Running back Caden Noonan went on two long runs to set up a touchdown. Quarterback Joaquin Miller then ran it in for Lincoln's first score. Jacob Hamilton added the extra point. Placer answered right back by turning a turnover into six points, but it was all Placer could muster. The Jr. Zebra defense led by Kaleb Bacus, Aiden Newberry, and Karsen Seaman repeatedly got the ball back for the Zebras. On offense, long runs by Gabriel Burns, Hamilton, and Bacus put the Auburn club on its heels. Bacus then went around left end for the Jr. Zebras second TD. Burns rushed for the extra point. Hamilton closed out Lincoln's scoring with a run around right end enabling the Jr. Zebras to leave the field with wide smiles. JR. PEEWEES Giving up almost 15 pounds per man on the lines, Lincoln's Jr. PeeWees faced a Placer team set to ground and pound, and it almost worked. However, the Jr. Zebras would prevail 6-0 in overtime. The Jr. Zebras bent but wouldn’t break. Both teams moved the ball well but couldn’t score. The Jr. Hillmen managed to reach Lincoln’s 10-yard line near the end of the game but couldn’t score. Outstanding open field tackles by Nicholas Burns and Jorge Diaz closed the door on the Jr. Hillmen. In overtime, each team was awarded four downs to score from the 10-yard line. Again, Lincoln called upon its defense and they responded. The Jr. Hillmen were unable to score but got a reprieve when roughing the quarterback was called. That gave Placer another four downs, this time from the 5-yard line. The home club was able to reach the 1-yard line but would get no closer. Great defense from Seth Sampson, Chase Freeman, and Nicholas Miller prevented Placer from getting into the end zone. The Jr. Hillmen defense came up big as well with a quarterback sack to put the Jr. Zebras back to the 21-yard line. On third down, Malachi Nelson went wide and executed a perfect reverse handoff to Diaz who raced into the end zone behind the blocking of Grady Manley. PeeWees Lincoln wins 16-0 Head coach Jeff Coffer’s Jr. Zebras PeeWees remained undefeated by blanking the Jr. Hillmen 22-0. Lincoln used a strong running attack behind a fast-improving offensive line and a solid defense to earn the victory. Christopher Hernandez returned the opening kickoff to the Placer 35-yard line. Jr. Zebras’ quarterback Lukas Wiley then found Deven Coffer on a fourth down pass for Lincoln's first score. Antonio Nevarez kicked the 2-point conversion for a Lincoln 8-0 lead. The Jr. Zebras’ Jacob Lemus then recovered a Jr. Hillmen fumble and the Lincoln offense went on the march. Ethan Suchomel ran it in for the second touchdown and Nevarez added the kick for a 16-0 lead. The final score came following a third Placer fumble recovered by the Jr. Zebras’ Nate Labrado. Lemus ran the ball deep into Jr. Hillmen territory where Nevarez was able to bull his way into the end zone for six. From that point on, the defense anchored by Ernesto Cuevas, Miles Pleich, Dylan Jacobs, Coffer and Nevarez did the rest. Hernandez did his part pulling in a one-handed interception as well. JR. MIDGETS The Jr. Midgets brought an unblemished record into the game and using a powerful defense shut out the Jr. Hillmen 16-0. After a scoreless first quarter, Lincoln put together a drive that ended when Greden McFarlin followed Zach Eutsey into the end zone for the score. Tyler Eslinger kicked the conversion to give the Jr. Zebras an 8-0 lead. Placer appeared to rise to the occasion by denying Lincoln a score on fourth-and-goal. However, on defense Cade Borgerson dropped the Jr. Hillmen quarterback in the end zone for a safety and a 10-0 lead. Defense again scored when Riley Meyer blitzed off the corner to scoop up a muffed Placer snap and raced 38 yards to the house. Although the extra point was missed the victory was in hand. The defense of Borgerson, Eutsey, Robert Coe, and Meyer shut down any Jr. Hillmen chance of a comeback. MIDGETS In maybe the most exciting game of the year, the Midgets battled into overtime allowing the Jr. Hillmen to take the final contest 28-22. Placer’s first play from scrimmage was a pass for a touchdown for a 6-0 lead. Lincoln’s Brandon Corrasa returned the ensuing kickoff to the Jr. Hillmen 35, but the Jr. Zebras were unable to capitalize. Placer again went to the pass for a TD and the extra point to give the home team a 14 – 0 in the first quarter. After a Lincoln score by Joseph Flores was nullified by a penalty, he later took a pass in the flats from quarterback Issac Adams and raced to pay dirt on the final play of the half. Chad Bagwell added the kick for a 14-8 score. The Jr. Zebras took the lead 16-14 in the third quarter behind a solid offensive line and runs by Gabriel Triano. Bagwell provided the 2-point margin. The Jr. Hillmen quickly responded to regain the lead 22-16. The Jr. Zebras answered even quicker when Anthony Anderson rambled 80 yards with the following kickoff and knotted the score at 22-all. In overtime, Placer won the toss and got first shot at offense. Wasting no time, the Jr. Hillmen carried it in for a 6-point lead. The Jr. Zebras’ hopes ended when their pass was intercepted. Lincoln will host Nevada Union this Saturday with the Mitey Mites beginning at 9 a.m. _ Greg Easter is Jr. Zebras coach and News Messenger contributor.