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A look back on the Jr. Zebras championship season

Organization comes out the winner
By: Greg Easter Jr. Zebras Football
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The brightest moment of the Lincoln Jr. Zebras was the Sierra Valley Football championship brought home by the PeeWees, but the 2011 season will go down as a huge success for the entire football and cheer organization. Joining the USA Football and NFL-affiliated Sierra Valley USA League, the four squads (Jr. PeeWees, PeeWees, Jr. Midgets, Midgets) compiled wins that more than doubled their losses. The Jr. Midgets didn’t lose a game until their championship showdown with Roseville. There is a fifth division, the Mitey Mites (8-9-year-olds), but scores were not recorded at that level, The PeeWees had a number of returning veterans, who were hungry for a championship after getting knocked out in the semi-finals last year. Although they entered the 2011 playoffs with two losses, those two defeats might have been the catalyst that brought them the title. Their first loss came at the hands of the Jr. Grizzlies of Granite Bay. That game went into overtime after a scoreless deadlock, but a missed 2-point kick cost the Lincoln club the game. The team’s only other loss was a non-league contest with Valley’s Jr. Vikings. It came late in the regular season and helped serve as a wake-up call to refocus. “The Valley game, although a loss, really helped us get to that championship” said PeeWees head coach Dana Graham. “The team came out of that game determined to not taste defeat, again, and it showed from the very next practice on, that we were all focused on that single goal,” The PeeWees entered the first round of the playoffs against nemesis Granite Bay. However, linemen Matt Brown, Greden McFarlin, and Cole Guadarrama opened big holes for running back Ryan Graham to score two touchdowns, and Preston Eklund one, for a 20-7 victory. The title match pitted the Lincoln squad against Woodland, but the Jr. Wolves proved no match as the PeeWees captured the SVUSA crown, 30-12. “While this team earned this championship, there has been a lot of support for these players along the way,” coach Graham said, thanking his coaching staff for a job well done. “Hopefully, they all take pride in this Lincoln championship. It has been six years in the making.” The Jr. Midgets rolled up 308 points of offense, and gave up only 57 on defense. They entered the championship game undefeated, but lost a heartbreaker to Roseville’s Jr. Tigers. The Jr. PeeWees finished the season 6-3, after suffering a loss in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Although the Midgets and Mitey Mites had a tough year in the SVUSA League, they progressed well in spite of giving up a considerable size advantage in each game. They competed well in the postseason consolation bowls, with the Mitey Mites staging an amazing double-elimination comeback for fourth place. All total, 153 players, nearly 100 cheerleaders, a cadre of coaches, and huge number of volunteers helped make the Jr. Zebras 2011 season perhaps the best yet. Already there is plenty of anticipation for 2012. Learn more about Lincoln Jr. Zebras Football and Cheer at jrzebras.com. Greg Easter is a Jr. Zebras coach The champion Jr. Zebras Peewees Quarterback - 12-Logan Stern Running backs - 3-Kyle McKnight, 7-Ryan Graham, 9-Michael Hamp, 24-Hunter Soffel, 27-Tyler Eslinger, 29-Pete Murillo Jr., 51-Conner Manley Linemen – 46-Matthew Brown, 65-David Izarraras, 67-Dawson Nichols, 70-Tyler Peacock, 74-Miguel Estrada, 79-Kenneth Lucas, 87-Danny Allen, 91-Diego Miller, 95-Cole Guadarrama, 97-Colton Fraga, 99-Cade Borgerson Tight ends - 43-Greden McFarlin, 80-Riley Meyer Wide receivers – 14-Robert Krei, 22-Joseph Rocha, 40-Preston Eklund, 83-Anthony Boisvert, 89-Skyler Evans Head coach - Dana Graham Assistant coaches - Mark Stern, Blaine Eslinger, Brian Eklund, Poli Guadarrama, Ron Meyer, Mike Hamp, Greg Borgerson