High School Sports

Goodbye 38-game skid: Miner Magic returns to Grass Valley for Nevada Union football

Jaxon Horne helped Nevada Union beat Ponderosa on Friday to end a 38-game losing streak.
Jaxon Horne helped Nevada Union beat Ponderosa on Friday to end a 38-game losing streak. Lenie's Pictures

At long last, victory in the month of October.

Nevada Union High School on Friday night made football extra fun in the foothills on Senior Night, downing Ponderosa 20-7 to move to 5-3 overall in halting a 38-game league losing streak.

The Miners are suddenly 1-2 in the fiercely competitive Foothill Valley League, and they are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, which is also the last time NU fielded a winning record.

It hasn’t been for a lack of effort or pride in Grass Valley, of course.

This is one of the storied programs in the region, winning 15 league championships since 1984 with four Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles under coach Dave Humphers since 1993, the last in 2009.

Then declining enrollment hit, cutting the amount of campus students nearly in half to 1,650, which coincided with a brutal football stretch in the muscle-bound Sierra Foothill League against the likes of Folsom, Del Oro, Granite Bay and Oak Ridge.

NU was realigned to a league more enrollment and competitive friendly before the 2018 season, and players continued their quest to return to the postseason and put tragedy behind them.

The Miners had competitive league losses this season to Placer (28-14) and to Oakmont (34-21) before the breakthrough against Ponderosa as J.T., Conway, Jaxon Horne, Jeremy Nettles and Tino Sanchez-Lane helped lead the charge for spirited second-year coach Brad Sparks, who hugged all comers on Friday night.

Sparks said that after marriage and the birth of his children, this win resonates as an all-time special moment.

Vista uprising led by Menezes

Ethan Menezes came to work Saturday morning at Hughes Stadium, rushing for 140 yards and four touchdowns for No. 15 Vista del Lago, including the game winner as time ran out to defeat Christian Brothers 34-28 in a wild Capital Athletic League contest.


“Oh yeah I was nervous,” he said with a laugh.

Menezes credited his offensive line of Blake Harville, Collin Homer, Josh Morris, Kellen Murphy, Nathan Erlich and Nathan Guess.

“That last play was all my O-line,” Menezes said. “We have worked since January for that moment. That’s all them. That’s their touchdown. That’s what a playoff game is going to look and be like.”

Vista hosts Sacramento on Friday and visits No. 6 Capital Christian on Nov. 1 with the CAL title on the line.

A is for Alex

It’s difficult enough trying to spell Alex Stelmaszczyk’s name, so imagine trying to cover him.

The Casa Roble senior receiver got open for three first-half touchdown strikes from Marciano Huston to key a 45-14 rout of Woodland to remain in first place in the Golden Empire League at 3-0 with Dixon (5-3, 2-1) looming. Casa Roble is finally rounding back into full health after injuries devastated the program, including missing seven starters during a 44-0 loss to Oakmont on Sept. 20.

“We’re getting back to where we want to be,” Casa Roble coach Chris Horner said.

The Woodland game also included an interception return for defensive end Brad Rankin, a leader and team captain who was so giddy that he spiked the ball, thus earning a flag and a lot of ribbing from his teammates.

Volleyball: Nevada Union landmark

Faith Menary of Nevada Union has eclipsed the 1,000 mark for career kills in her three seasons with the Miners after playing her freshmen season at Forest Lake Christian. She has committed to Louisiana Tech to compete and study.

Menary has 513 kills this season and 1,007 for her career entering the week for The Bee’s No. 6-ranked team that is 37-9.

And she comes from an athletic family. Menary’s mother JoAnn Biszantz Menary played the sport at Arizona and Boston College in the 1980s and her father Dave Menary played football and golf at Marin College and later competed professionally in long drive golf events.

St. Francis rolls on – Top-ranked St. Francis clinched the Delta League title with a sweep over No. 4 Cosumnes Oaks. The Troubadours have only dropped one set in 11 league games and will likely draw the No. 1 overall seed in the section playoffs next week.

Alexa Edwards (346), Chloe Henning (136), Ashley Magley (129) and Lauren Patella (104) have all registered overall 100 kills. Setters Ellie Eichhorn and Jesiree Moral have combined for 649 assists this season.

UM, CB soar – Union Mine enters the rankings for the first time this season at No. 20. The Diamondbacks have an 8-0 league record and clinched the Sierra Valley Conference with a sweep over Liberty Ranch. Multisport athlete Alli McDonald leads the team in kills with 245. Mikayla Ide (183) and Erin Eschleman (110) are second and third respectively in kills.

Christian Brothers moves up one spot to No. 5 after beating El Camino and No. 19 Vista Del Lago on the road. The Falcons already wrapped up the Capital Athletic League title and sit at 10-0 in conference play with two games to go. Sophia Overstreet and Gigi Hurley have led the charge at the outside hitter position, while Sydney Durana has played crucial defense.


1. Folsom (7-1)

2. Inderkum (8-0)

3. Rocklin (6-2)

4. Oak Ridge (6-2)

5. Monterey Trail (7-1)

6. Capital Christian (6-2)

7. Elk Grove (6-2)

8. Davis (7-1)

9. Vacaville (6-2)

10. Del Oro (5-3)

11. Granite Bay (4-4)

12. Center (8-0)

13. Cosumnes Oaks (6-2)

14. Placer (6-2)

15. Vista del Lago (7-1)

16. Pleasant Grove (5-3)

17. Lincoln (4-4)

18. Whitney (3-6)

19. Rio Linda (6-2)

20. Casa Roble (5-3)

Bubble teams (alphabetical order): Amador (7-1), Antelope (4-5), Bear River (6-2), Bradshaw Christian (6-2), Christian Brothers (5-3), Colfax (6-2), Dixon 5-3, East Nicolaus (6-1), Foothill (5-3), Franklin (3-4), Golden Sierra (6-2), Highlands (7-1), Jesuit (3-4), Johnson (6-2), Laguna Creek (6-2), Liberty Ranch (5-4), Mesa Verde (5-2) Nevada Union (4-3), Oakmont (6-2), Pierce (5-2), Ponderosa (4-4), Rio Vista (6-1), Rosemont (7-1), Roseville (5-3), Sutter (6-1), Union Mine (4-4), Wheatland (5-2), Wood (4-4), Woodland (5-3), Yuba City (5-3).


1. St. Francis (31-2)

2. Rocklin (22-10)

3. Oak Ridge (26-8)

4. Cosumnes Oaks (26-9)

5. Christian Brothers (23-8)

6. Nevada Union (37-9)

7. Lincoln (19-8)

8. Whitney (15-12)

9. Del Oro (15-13)

10. Rio Americano (26-11)

11. Woodcreek (19-9)

12. Vacaville (23-4)

13. Pioneer (36-5)

14. Ponderosa (14-11)

15. Vanden (20-4)

16. Pleasant Grove (10-10)

17. Colfax (19-11)

18. Oakmont (13-10)

19. Vista Del Lago (10-11)

20. Union Mine (20-8)

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Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.