Nevada Union and Bear River high schools will sort of kick-off the 2016 football season Saturday when they participate in a four-team scrimmage at El Camino High School in Sacramento. Fortunately for the Miners, nobody will be keeping score.
As those of you who follow these things know, the former Grass Valley powerhouse has not done well the last six seasons. Dave Humphers closed out his long tenure as head coach by playing .500 ball his last three seasons, and things have gone downhill since he was replaced by Dennis Houlihan.
The Miners have posted a 4-26 record in three years under Houlihan, and have not won a game in the Sierra Foothill League (0-17). The team was 1-9 last season, and with a strong non-league schedule this year, may be hard pressed to improve on that.
But the athletic masterminds at NU have a plan: Escape from the SFL and build a state-of-the-art scoreboard that could cost over $230,000. (Yes, $230,000.)
While the school’s enrollment has been sinking almost as fast the fortunes of its football team, they still have too many students to wiggle out of the SFL and find a league where they can be competitive. (The school’s other major boys teams haven’t done well either.)
In an effort to “shrink” NU’s enrollment, the athletic department wants to bar students from Ghidotti Early College High School from participating in varsity sports at the school. There was a report in The Union (which hasn’t been denied by school officials) that junior high school students with athletic potential are being discouraged from enrolling at Ghidotti–so much for putting education first!
The plan is to make Ghidotti students ineligible to play sports at NU by the fall of 2018, at which point NU will presumably have a low enough enrollment to escape the ultra-competitive SFL. (Long-time observers will remember that NU “added” the Ghidotti students to their athletic program so they would have enough students to get into the SFL. Aw, irony.)
Meanwhile, the boosters want to dazzle the diminishing crowds with a new scoreboard, reportedly costing in the neighborhood of $234,000. Apparently this will be an accessory to the $400,000 field that was installed several years ago to replace the muddy old dirt pile of yesterday. The field has only succeeded in making it easier for visiting teams to navigate the 100 yards between goal lines.
Apparently the goal is to dazzle ’em until NU can find a league that will return it to its storied days of yesteryear.
ANOTHER WAY: There is a simpler way to reduce Nevada Union’s enrollment so that it can find a more competitive league–redraw attendance boundary lines. NU has about 1,600 students while Bear River has about 700. Move the boundary lines so they have about 1,150 students each and you solve the problem.
The district could make better use of Bear River’s underutilized facilities, and NU could shed its reputation for being a big school where kids get lost. But some NU diehards would object to sending their children to Bear River–buildings are more important than smaller classes in their calculus–and the Miners would lose their excuse for not playing the Bruins in football.
Just a thought.