Attrition plays a large role in the fortunes of football teams, giving teams with good depth a decided advantage as the season wears on. As Bear River and Nevada Union showed last week, depth plays a large if silent role in who wins and loses.
The Bruins remained undefeated at 3-0 with a 31-10 victory over Pershing County, Nevada, the state’s defending 2A champion. Given the size of Pershing’s roster, I find it hard to believe there are any divisions in Nevada below 2A.
Pershing entered the game with a 23-man roster, according to MaxPrep Sports, not enough players to have a full practice. Bear River, with 30 on the team, managed to build up a 31-0 lead before Pershing kicked a field goal and scored a touchdown with the clock expiring.
Co-coach Terry Logue gave the school props for showing up: “They have a lot of class. A smaller school to come over here, (they) weren’t afraid to play us, battled us in the first half for sure,” he told The Union.
Still, they didn’t have the manpower to compete with the Bruins. The same can be said for Nevada Union, which couldn’t hold off a Lincoln rally in the fourth quarter and lost 23-22 to drop to 1-2 for the season.
The Miners fielded a roster of 42 players, while the Zebras showed up with 57 players. The depth disparity became apparent late in the game as many of NU’s best players, going both ways, couldn’t protect a 9-point lead. As commentator Dan Miller pointed out on KNCO, Lincoln’s enrollment is growing while NU’s is shrinking.
It’s a wonder the games was as close as it was. Lincoln ran 99 plays (vs. 50 for the Miners) and rolled up 533 yards of total offense to NU’s 141. The fatigue factor was evident in the last 4:43 of the game, when Lincoln ran 10 straight running plays to eat up the clock and preserve a 1-point victory.
“It was frustrating,” coach Dennis Houlihan told The Union. “Our defense played fine, they played well. They just got tired…We weren’t winning the line of scrimmage, you could see it, and we were giving up big plays on third down.”
Things get a little better this week, when NU travels to Napa, a team with 40 players. Meanwhile, Bear River plays the first of four straight road games at Marysville, which claims a bigger roster of 36 players. This is the last chance each school has to pad its record before league play starts.