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Zebras make early exit from playoffs

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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By Alex Stewart News Messenger Correspondent The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs have come and gone for Lincoln High School’s football team. Now the work begins for the 2011 season, and head coach Ken Lowe is ready to get started. “We will be in the weight room a lot this offseason. We have a strong commitment from the players to be there,” Lowe said. “We will also work on getting faster.” The offseason began for the Zebras after Friday night’s 35-28 loss at Yuba City in the first round of the section Division III playoffs. The loss left Lincoln with a 6-5 record a year after finishing 11-1. The seniors were sophomores when Lincoln finished 1-9 in Lowe’s first season as head coach. They went 10-0 in the regular season as juniors and returned to the playoffs in their final season. “These kids knew how to win,” Lowe said. “They had intangibles, and to lose all the positive leadership the seniors provided is going to be hard.” Lincoln was 5-1 this season after beating Foothill in its Pioneer Valley League opener. The Zebras stumbled down the stretch, losing four of their last five games after being ousted by Yuba City. “We played very well, especially under difficult circumstances,” Lowe said of Friday’s game. Those circumstances included junior tackle Marty Morris being out with an ankle injury and junior running back Isaac Allen leaving in the second quarter after sustaining a shoulder injury “(Allen) went to the hospital to have it reset,” Lowe said. Allen was injured at a critical time in the game as Lincoln’s offense was “really clicking,” Lowe said. “We had them on the ropes, but we just couldn’t knock them out.” Lowe can count on having Allen again in 2011. Allen was the Zebras’ second-leading rusher this season with 949 yards even after missing the two first games with a knee injury. He scored 15 touchdowns. Senior Oscar Fernandez led the team in rushing with 975 yards. Lowe is not looking forward to being without Fernandez next season. The coach is also going to miss Bobby Humiston, Travis Bakken, Tyler Morgan, David Silchuk, Anthony Latu, Anthony Esparza and Dickson Avecilla. The Zebras will have plenty of big shoes to fill when practice kicks off in August. Returning next season will be defensive end Mike Thompson, tight end Colin Taylor and wide receiver Aldo Aguilar. Lowe hinted that Aguilar might be moved to running back. The battle to replace Christian Perkins at quarterback will consist of junior Jacob Gomez and sophomore James Hubbard, who started for the junior varsity team this season. “Both are very talented and have a fighting chance for the position,” Lowe said, “but it is up in the air.” What remains a constant for the Zebras is Lowe’s philosophy. Continuity also helps. Lowe has had the same assistants for three years and all will return in 2011. “We may make minor tweaks here and there, Lowe said, “but we’re going to play to our strengths and make other teams stop us.”