Dennis Houlihan never considered ordering the troops to pipe down.
The bus ride from Auburn to Grass Valley was festive and loud, and Houlihan, the second-year Nevada Union football coach, was leading the charge.
A storied powerhouse program in the Sac-Joaquin Section for decades, the Miners crashed to 0-10 last season, but all was grand again Friday when Nevada Union stunned Bee No. 14 Placer 41-20 in renewing a rivalry after an 18-year hiatus.
“Those kids, they definitely deserved a win, and I feel so good for them,” Houlihan said Saturday. “And that bus ride, I was celebrating with them. Nothing like a big win.”
Houlihan can speak from experience. He was a star halfback for the Miners in the late 1980s, and his father, Pat Houlihan, was on the Miners’ coaching staff for 30 years. Houlihan spent seven seasons on the NU staff before taking over for the retired Dave Humphers.
And old man Houlihan is back on the sideline, too, as the line coach for his son. Nevada Union’s line, led by right guard and team captain Enzo Arata, paved the way for the pistol offense that has a lot of wing-T elements to rush for 409 yards. Justus Spillner passed for 161 yards and three touchdowns, Travis Owens rushed for 196 yards, Mo Nieves 193. Josh Belendez led the defense with 17 tackles and Joseph Ten Eyck had 13.
“We played great,” Houlihan said. “It was a dream come true, having my dad coach with me and us having some success.”
Hammering Herd – No. 2 Elk Grove raced past Damonte Ranch of Reno 55-7 on Friday, thanks largely to the big guys in the trenches. Known as the “Hammerheads” under line coach Moe Loller, the offensive line includes Joseph Maniscalco, Trevor Reinwald, Dalton Heggi and brothers Lau Ta’amu and Sai Ta’amu, and they opened up lanes for backs Manny Scott-Anderson, Eltoro Allen and Arsenio Ayala.
“Great line play, and it always starts with those guys,” Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon said.
Patriotic socks – Elk Grove sophomore quarterback Tyler Vander Waal sparkled in his debut, hitting Kyle Van Lindt for two touchdowns, and he looked the part of patriot during the Honor Bowl, which pays homage to military veterans, sporting a pair of stars-and-striped socks.
Debut winner – Dan Carmazzi, a 200-game winner at Jesuit, won his first game at his alma mater, No. 17 Christian Brothers, as the first-year coach rejoiced in a 56-7 rout of River City. Chris Guillen hit Jalen Swanigan for two touchdowns, and sophomore Jamarri Jackson scored on a 90-yard run and returned an interception for a score. The offensive line, coached by Dave Hoskins, who got his coaching start at CBS in the late 1960s, provided gaping holes.
DLS rolls – If there was ever a shot for a Sac-Joaquin Section team to topple De La Salle, or at least push the nationally renowned Spartans of Concord, it was Friday. Thinned at quarterback and linebacker because of injuries, De La Salle never blinked in blasting No. 6 Jesuit 63-0 in improving to 8-0 against area teams.
De La Salle, which plays at No. 3 Del Oro next month, returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, blocked a punt, returned an interception for a touchdown, had six sacks in the first half and allowed 35 yards on 27 first-half plays.
“They’re relentless on defense,” Jesuit receiver Isaiah Bailey said. “I’m happy we played them, though. We’re definitely going to grow from it.”
De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh told Bay Area media he admires Marlon Blanton, the Jesuit coach who played and coached at De La Salle.
“We’ve known each other for a really long time,” he said of Blanton, “and he’s a great coach. (Jesuit) is better than what tonight showed. They’ll be fine.”
Et cetera – Trevin Wilson returned a fumble a school-record 98 yards in Del Campo’s 36-13 victory over Edison of Stockton.
• Marcel Brown rushed for 190 yards and three touchdowns, Hunter Clark had 31/2 sacks and Michael Serrano had seven tackles, three for a loss, in No. 16 Rio Linda’s 27-7 victory over Center.
• Trent Mattson passed for 200 yards and threw to Brenden McCarthy for two touchdowns, and Gabriel Alvarado rushed for 166 yards and three scores in Casa Roble’s 41-6 rout of Bella Vista.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.