Lincoln Jr Zebras get rare sweep as Antelope falls in four

Midgets play in Battle for Veterans
By: Greg Easter/News Messenger Contributor
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The Lincoln Jr. Zebras home opener was a day of hardnosed football against non-conference rival the Antelope Jr. Titans Saturday at Edward Alexander Grey Sports Complex. The Midgets met at Del Oro High School as part of the Battle for Veterans. Although the games proved to be as difficult as promised, the Jr. Zebras executed a rare feat by winning at every level. It hadn’t happened to Lincoln in years, either winning or losing, and against a strong program like Antelope was quite an accomplishment. MITEY MITES (0-0) The morning began with the Mighty Mites (ages 6-8) battling a team that ran over them last year. However, coach Justin Miller's little Zebras were determined that wouldn’t happen again. With solid line play led by Carson Seman, the Jr. Zebras came out quickly. Big carries by Jack Nilsson, Jake Hamilton, and Caden Noonan was culminated by a 15-yard touchdown scamper around right end by Nilsson. A valuable extra point was scored on a sneak play. After the score, the game settled into a defensive battle with neither team cracking the end zone for the rest of the first half. Antelope started the second half with a great drive ending in a score. But the Jr. Zebras’ defense stood tall on the point after to deny Antelope. Both teams played their hearts out but neither was able to score again. JR. PEEWEES (1-1) Defense was the order of the day for both teams, but Lincoln would prevail 18-7. Lincoln’s Jr. PeeWees were eliminated by Antelope in last year’s playoffs and came with a plan to pound the middle. Although the offense led by Louie Chauvin, Cameron Chatterton, Seth Sampson, Cade Culpepper, and Chase Freeman gave the Jr. Zebras a good push, it was the defense that led to the first score. The defense stranded Antelope on their own 1-yard line and gave Dominic Spence an opportunity to follow good blocking into the end zone for the score. The extra point failed and Lincoln led 6-0. Antelope answered with a long pass play and extra point to forge in front 7-6. The Jr. Titans put up a good defense but it was matched by Lincoln’s Zach Hatten, Grady Manley, and Nick Burns. Lincoln then went on a long drive keyed by a fourth down pass from quarterback Tommy Turner to Nicholas Miller for a first down. Manley got the call from two yards out to give Lincoln a 12-7 lead. Antelope found it difficult to move the ball after that. The Jr. Zebras then recovered a costly Jr. Titans’ fumble and opportunity knocked. Burns burst up the middle for 37 yards and the final score, and then came back to make an open field tackle to squash Jr. Titans’ hopes of a comeback. PEEWEES (2-0) Missing a key player for the second week in a row, Jess Coffer's PeeWees showed that many parts working together can equal success and Lincoln demonstrated that by claiming a 12-6 victory. In spite of Antelope’s physical size, Lincoln showed heart and never flinched. The game started as a defensive tug-o-war, but strong runs by Jacob Lemus and Antonio Nevarez loosened up the Titan defense a bit. The Jr. Zebras’ momentum stalled near the Jr. Titans’ goal line, but quarterback Kyle Easter came up with a pass to tight end Ethan Suchomel in the end zone for six. The Zebra defense stood strong all day earning four takeaways. Miles Pleich, Suchomel, and Luke Wiley each had an interception and Ethan Guadarrama recovered a fumble. The defense cracked at the start of the third quarter, but the Jr. Zebras came right back. Lemus helped carry the load as Lincoln marched downfield to set up the final score. Easter then found Suchomel again in the corner of the end zone for a TD pass and give the boys in blue a six-point lead. The Jr. Titans tried mounting a final drive but that was cut short by Wiley who picked off an Antelope pass. JR. MIDGETS (2-0) The Jr. Zebra Jr. Midgets knew they would have their hands full and defense again came to the rescue as Lincoln battled for a 12-0 triumph. A strong defense anchored by Cade Borgerson, Colton Fraga, and Cole Guadarrama on the line, and Greden McFarlin and Tyler Eslinger in the backfield gave up almost no yardage at all. Antelope was equally as stubborn as the two clubs entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. The first break came when the Jr. Zebras pinned the Jr. Titans deep in their own territory and forced them to punt. Ryan Graham fielded the ball at Antelope’s 30 and returned it up the left sideline for the first score. The Zebras defense held throughout the contest setting up another long run from Graham to the Jr. Titan’s 1-yard line. McFarlin then punched it in for the final score. MIDGETS (1-1) The Jr. Zebras Midgets traveled to Del Oro to take part in a charitable event for America’s veterans. The event showcased local youth and high school teams to help raise money for veteran causes. After a disappointing loss to Elk Grove last week, coach Charles Middleton’s squad was looking to bounce back and did so with a resounding 30-13 victory over Antelope. The Jr. Titans opened quickly and jumped on top 7-0. After Lincoln stalled on its first possession, the Jr. Zebras’ Anthony Anderson intercepted a pass and returned it 83 yards for Lincoln’s first TD. Chad Bagwell converted his first of three 2-point kicks to put the Zebras up 8-7. Antelope’s next possession was again foiled when Dominic Sanders picked off a pass to set up the Jr. Zebras’ next score. Quarterback Gabriel Triano unloaded for a 68-yard bomb to Bradley Arline for touchdown No. 2 to make it 16-7 after Bagwell’s kick. Antelope scored to narrow the margin to 16-13. But strong runs by Triano and Elijah Bean pulled the Antelope defense tight into the box. That allowed Isaac Adams and Joseph Flores to hook up twice for two second-half touchdowns; a third 69-yard score was called back on a penalty. Antelope’s offense was again cut short when Sanders again nabbed an errant Jr. Titans’ pass. Coach Middleton credited his offensive line of Travis Vernon, Jackson Tofft, Wyatt Dornbush, Pablo Miller, and Bagwell in helping to secure the victory. The Jr. Zebras get a rest this holiday weekend and then open league play in Auburn Sept. 8 to take on the Placer Jr. Hillman. The action begins at 9 a.m. with the Mitey Mites followed every two hours by the Jr. PeeWees, PeeWees, Jr. Midgets, and Midgets. Greg Easter is a Jr. Zebras coach and contributing writer for Lincoln News Messenger Sports