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These Zebras change their stripes

Lincoln rebounds from one-win season with seven straight victories
By: Russ Edmondson Gold Country News Service
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Lincoln High’s football team hasn’t played in a regular season game like this in a very long time. The Zebras (7-0) will play in a huge Pioneer Valley League game at Placer (7-0) Friday night. Placer reached the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division IV championship game last season and lost to Whitney. Meanwhille the Zebras, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, suffered through a 1-9 season last fall. 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. The Zebras have a senior quarterback in Alex Stewart, lots of depth at running back, a stellar defense that has forced a staggering 29 turnovers and strong play on both sides of the line this season. Lincoln senior running backs Moses Stanley (59 carries, 555 yards, 11 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. Placer coach Joey Montoya said the Zebras have a new attitude about them after last year’s struggles. “You can tell their kids have got a lot of confidence in what they’re doing,” Montoya said. “They’ve put a lot of time in, done a lot of hard work in the offseason. They’ve definitely got some big kids.” Lowe expects a huge crowd on Friday night in one of the biggest games Auburn has hosted in several years. “People are telling me that they hear 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 him and a lot of respect for that Placer program.” Lowe expects the Hillmen to provide an enormous challenge. “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 (Collin Burnett) is pretty good and he throws the deep ball pretty well. “They are pretty deceptive with what they do with the football.” Lincoln’s signature win of the season so far came Oct. 2 when the Zebras stunned defending section champion Whitney 21-14 on Stanley’s late 57-yard touchdown reception. “They beat the defending section champions and it was a great game,” Montoya said. “They never trailed in that game. That was the sign that they were the real deal.” The winner of Friday’s game will take sole possession of first place in the PVL with two games remaining in the regular 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