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Battle of unbeatens - Zebras to take on Hillmen in Auburn

Both teams, each 7-0, run the wing T; Huge crowd expected
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High’s varsity football team hasn’t played in a regular season game like this in a very long time. The 7-0 Zebras will play in a Pioneer Valley League game against the 7-0 Placer Hillmen in Auburn on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Placer reached the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division IV championship game last season and lost to Whitney. The Zebras, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, have rebounded from last year’s 1-9 record. Coach Ken Lowe was the co-coach of the Zebras with Don Johnson in 2006 (6-5) and 2007 (5-5) and he became the sole head coach in 2008. He has been on the Lincoln coaching staff for 11 years, after being on the staff at Granite Bay for one season. Lincoln struggled while learning to run Lowe’s wing T offense last year but the Zebras have had no problems with it this season. Lincoln was down when Lowe took over the program, having gone 3-7 in 2005 under Clint Nelson. Lincoln, which has never won a section championship in football, has made the playoffs five times in the last 20 years, extending its season in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006. The Zebras have a senior quarterback in Alex Stewart, lots of depth at running back, a stellar defense and strong play on both sides of the line this season. Lincoln senior running backs Moses Stanley (59 carries, 555 yards, seven touchdowns), Tim Bevins (80 for 326, seven touchdowns) and Alex Cowden (19 for 341, three touchdowns) and junior running backs Oscar Fernandez (34 for 143, three touchdowns) and Bobby Humiston (29 for 170, two touchdowns) have all been solid on the ground thus far this year. Stanley, also the team’s leading receiver (15 catches, 280 yards, four touchdowns), is new to the team this season after being home schooled for most of last year. Lowe, friends with Placer coach Joey Montoya, expects a huge crowd on Friday night. “People are telling me that they hear that everyone in (Auburn) is going and it should be fun,” Lowe said. “I know Joey and he is a great coach. I have a lot of respect for Joe and a lot of respect for that Placer program.” Lowe expects the Hillmen to be very tough. “They run the wing T (like Lincoln) and their team speed is very good and they swarm to the ball on defense,” Lowe said. “I would say their quarterback (Colin Burnett) is pretty good and he throws the deep ball pretty well. “They are pretty deceptive with what they do with the football.” Placer has beat El Dorado (42-20) and Bear River (51-7) in PVL play this season and taken down Rosemont (32-6), Woodcreek (49-35), Casa Roble (31-30), Mesa Verde (61-13) and Capital Christian (48-20) in non-league play. Lincoln has topped Whitney (21-14), Mesa Verde (41-0) and El Dorado (42-7) in league and beat Woodland (19-7), Wheatland (28-21), Brookside Christian (55-20) and Marysville (35-0) in non-league contests. “It’s a big game and I shouldn’t have to say much to get our kids pumped up,” Lowe said. “(Placer is) a very good team.” The winner of this game will take sole possession of first place in the PVL with two games remaining in the season. “This game will show our true colors of what kind of team we are,” Lincoln senior defensive back/ receiver Bo Avery said. “They don’t have respect for us. We have respect - no one has respected us all year. So if we beat them - we can earn that respect.” Galen Kusic contributed to this report