Zebras healthy enough for PVL showdown

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Left tackle Dickson Avecilla’s right forearm is broken. Center Travis Bakken’s left ankle is sprained. Forty percent of Lincoln High School’s starting offensive line is not at 100 percent these days. The show goes on for the Zebras, however. Bakken and Avecilla will be ready to go Friday night when Lincoln hosts Placer in a game that could decide which team wins the Pioneer Valley League. With so much at stake, Zebras head coach Ken Lowe has tried to contain his players’ ex-citement. “We want to let it build up all week,” Lowe said, “and then we’re going to pop the lid off Friday night.” Avecilla did not start last Friday in the Zebras’ 41-21 victory over Foothill in Sacramento. He split time at left tackle with fellow senior Edgar Granados, and Lincoln’s offense did not miss a beat. Oscar Fernandez and Isaac Allen combined to rush for 325 yards, with Allen scoring three touchdowns. Christian Perkins threw for a career-high three scores, including two to Bobby Humiston. Granados earned Lowe’s praise for making the most of his opportunity in the PVL opener. “He did a good job for us,” said Lowe, whose team is 5-1 and riding a three-game winning streak. Placer is also 5-1 and has also won three in a row since a 44-31 loss to Casa Roble on Sept. 17. Bakken sustained a high ankle sprain Sept. 17 in Lincoln’s 42-28 win over Wheatland.He did not play the following week in the Zebras’ 30-28 victory at Argonaut. The Zebras had a bye Oct. 1. Players have come and gone for the Zebras this season, and Lowe is proud of his team’s resiliency. Senior linebacker Thomas Little was lost when he was seriously injured in a car accident Aug. 24. Allen missed the first two games with a knee injury. He has scored 10 touchdowns since returning. He rushed for a season-high 214 yards against Wheatland and had 183 against Foothill Senior defensive end Antonio Moreno also missed the first two weeks to straighten out a few academic issues. With Little sidelined, Moreno came back as the only returning starteron defense. Moreno gives the Zebras three big defensive linemen. He is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, as is senior nose tackle Anthony Latu, and senior defensive end Mike Thompson is 6-2 and weighs 200. Senior linebacker Anthony Esparza returned to action last week after missing two games with a knee injury. Esparza made an instant impact in his return with 12 tackles against Foothill. Esparza also contributed at running back when Allen was out. With Allen healthy, Lowe does not need Esparza to carry the ball and wants to keep Esparza fresh for his defensive duty. “Losing him on defense was a bigger blow for us,” the coach said, “than not having him on offense.” Lincoln’s defense regrouped last week against allowing touchdown runs of 61 and 75 yards on Foothill’s first two possessions. The Mustangs did not score again until late in the fourth quarter.