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Season kicks off Friday

Zebras look to rebound after going 1-9
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High varsity football coach Ken Lowe expects his Zebras to be much better than they were last year. Lincoln went 1-9 overall and 1-5 in the Pioneer Valley League last season, Lowe’s first as head coach of the team. Lowe served as Lincoln’s co-head coach with Don Johnson in 2006 and 2007. The Zebras went .500 overall and in league in 2007 and went 6-5 and 4-2 in 2006, losing 41-14 to Manteca in the playoffs. “I really expect a rebound and I think that our team is much, much improved from last year,” Lowe said. “And that was kind of the first year of the offense that we ran and now they kind of have it down and I expect a big improvement offensively. “We still have a tough schedule but I expect improvement in our record and I feel like we can battle with (the top teams in the PVL).” Lincoln opens its season at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Woodland against the Wolves. “We are (ready for the first game) and we’re in a much better position this year than last year (with) the number of plays we have in our playbook,” Lowe said. “I would like to clean up some of the blocking and probably get off the ball a little bit better.” Lincoln scrimmaged Center on Sept. 3 and scrimmaged against Foothill, Galt, River City and Mira Loma on Saturday at Foothill High. “I was encouraged by the scrimmages,” Lowe said. After Woodland, the rest of Lincoln’s non-league schedule includes games against Wheatland, Brookside Christian and Marysville. The Zebras will open PVL play at home against the defending Sac-Joaquin Section, Division IV champion Whitney Wildcats on Oct. 2. Whitney went 13-0 last season. The rest of the PVL includes Placer, Bear River, Colfax, Mesa Verde and El Dorado. Lowe has two quarterbacks that he likes a lot in senior Alex Stewart (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) and junior Christian Perkins (5-10, 145). “They are battling it out for the (starting) QB (position),” Lowe said. “Both are doing really well. It probably looks like Alex (will start the Woodland game), he has had two really good scrimmages. “Alex is a bit taller and knows the offense because he was a junior last year. “He knows the idiosyncrasies of the offense and the little parts of it. Christian is also a very good quarterback that moves really well. He is maybe more agile while Alex is a little more accurate.” Lincoln has a group of athletes that could see time at running back or fullback including junior Oscar Fernandez and seniors Tim Bevins, Alex Cowden, Moses Stanley and Danny Walsh. Stanley, a speedy wing back, is new to the team as he was previously on independent study. Bevins will start at fullback. Seniors Todd Hinnebusch, Dylan Croisant and Bo Avery are expected to be key receivers for the Zebras. Avery is a transfer from Roseville High. Seniors JJ Castillo (6-5, 255) and Jacob Tryon (6-5, 300) will play both ways on the line as returning starters while senior Brock Dobbs (5-10, 170) will start at center. Castillo, an offensive tackle last season, is expected to play some tight end this season. Lowe says the battle for the spots at offensive guard is competitive and has heated up. Walsh should be a key playmaker at middle linebacker while senior Steven Gunter will also start at linebacker. Cowden will start at defensive end. Croisant and Avery will be at cornerback while Hinnebusch comes back at free safety. “Dylan Croisant has had a great summer and a couple of good scrimmages,” said Lowe of the two-way senior.