49ers face tough test with Cubs
Ted Hoal has always scheduled his Yuba College football teams to play the best Northern California has to offer.
Hoal said he likes the challenge and likes the ability to gauge how far along his teams are before the start of conference play.
The 49ers certainly face a challenge today at their Linda campus when visiting Santa Rosa brings its 3-0 record and No. 8 state ranking with it.
“You know what we're all looking forward to, is playing somebody that's really good,” Hoal said. “I think everybody likes the opportunity to know that you have a chance to play up and play against somebody that's a pretty good team. It's like Butte in the past or Sierra or somebody else like that.
“I think our kids realize that if you show up and play well, you can kind of make a name for yourself a little bit. I don't think we'll see anybody on our schedule this year that's like these guys, so it gives us an opportunity to measure ourselves, see how well we're playing and see where we're at.”
Yuba had a short time to celebrate its first victory of the season last Saturday before beginning preparations for the Bear Cubs, ranked fifth in Northern California. The win lifted two weeks of frustration for the 49ers, who committed untimely mistakes that cost them victories in each of their first two games.
Yuba will have to be extremely crisp this week to have a chance.
Santa Rosa uses a balanced offensive attack and a stifling defense that has allowed just 55 yards rushing and 502 yards passing. The Cubs have averaged 46 points per game, while allowing opponents just 11.
Yuba sophomore linebacker Mike Reed, who has committed to the University of Oklahoma, acknowledged the difficulty his squad faces.
“These guys are ranked in the state right now and we are underdogs, so we're just going to go out there and give it our best and give them a good fight and hopefully we come out on top,” he said. “I want to push our guys to compete with them. We want to compete with the best to be the best.”
Reed leads a Yuba defense that is allowing just 210.33 yards per game, which ranks 11th in the state. Wheatland High product Brian Rassmussen has teamed with Reed at linebacker to form a bruising run-stopping attack.
“(Santa Rosa) is a high-power offense, so we have to blitz, get to the quarterback and that's basically the game plan,” Reed said. “We have to get to the quarterback, get some pressure on him and eliminate mistakes.”
The Cubs have used two quarterbacks effectively, sophomore Mark Gray and freshman Greg Alexander. Their numbers are nearly identical with Gray completing 40 of 57 passes for 490 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception and Alexander completing 36 of 52 passes for 416 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception.
D.J. Sexton is the team's favorite target with 18 catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns, but the Cubs have three more receivers with more than 150 receiving yards each and a combined eight touchdowns.
Marty Ponzo leads the ground attack with 212 yards on 26 carries and three TDs.
“I like our defense. I like the kids we have on defense and I like their ability to work hard,” Hoal said. “I'd be lying if I said the offenses we have faced in the past three weeks have been prolific because they haven't. So, it will be a huge challenge for these guys. We have veterans in our linebacking corps, the young kids on the defensive line have pretty good motors and our corners and safeties are coming along.”
Yuba's offense will turn to Yuba City product and sophomore quarterback Trevor Stoehr and All-American receiver Marcus Allen.
Stoehr is 30 of 57 with 391 yards and eight touchdowns, six to Allen, who leads the state in scoring and has also caught 17 passes for 198 yards.
Allen is excited for the opportunity to prove he's a threat.
“I feel real excited because a lot of guys on (Santa Rosa) probably feel that ‘oh this guy plays for Yuba; he's not a top receiver; he really don't play nobody. So, it's a chance to show that I'm good and that I can play people who is on my level, All-American people.”
Sophomore Wheatland product Andy Fatten and Sutter red-shirt freshman Jake Winship have carried the rushing load. Fatten has gained 198 yards on 55 carries, and Winship has carried 31 times for 134 yards.
“We're still a little beat up on our offensive line but obviously Trevor's been playing well, the running backs have stepped up last week and we're putting points up on the board,” Hoal said.
BY THE NUMBERS
(After three games)
OFFENSE: POINTS/AVG.; RUSH/AVG.; PASS/AVG.; TOTAL/AVG.
Yuba: 69/23; 403/134.3; 391/130.3; 794/264.7
Santa Rosa: 138/46; 376/125.3; 906/302; 1,282/427.3
DEFENSE: POINTS/AVG.; RUSH/AVG.; PASS/AVG.; TOTAL/AVG.
Yuba: 55/18.3; 143/47.7; 488/162.7; 631/210.3
Santa Rosa: 34/11.3; 55/18.3; 502/167.; 557/185.7
Last week: Yuba (1-2) beat San Jose, 28-9; Santa Rosa (3-0) beat Delta, 41-27.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com