Calaveras varsity football players are getting ready to take on the Stellar Prep Thunder at Frank Meyer Field on Friday night at 7 p.m., and they hope to improve on their 2-2 overall record before they begin Mother Lode League play Oct. 4 when they host Bret Harte.

The team from San Andreas has multiple players going both ways on offense and defense, including senior quarterback-cornerback Nolan Dart. Calaveras also has young players contributing, including freshman running back Jake Hopper.

Dart was busy on both sides of the ball last week, helping the Calaveras defense force three fumbles, and picking off a fourth-quarter pass to seal a close win 21-19 over Bradshaw Christian in Elk Grove. Hopper broke free for a 67-yard gain in the first quarter to set up the first Calaveras touchdown last Friday night.

The Stellar Prep Thunder are 1-4 overall in 2019 and they are coming off three straight losses, 34-0 to Santa Margarita in Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo on Sept. 20; 57-0 to McCallie High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Sept. 13; and 62-54 to Miramonte in Orinda on Sept. 5.

Bret Harte vs. Linden

There were 20 varsity football Bullfrogs at practice Wednesday as new interim head coach Kelly Osborn and his staff worked with the team to get ready for their opponent this Friday night.

“I want to see you wear that defensive line down by the third quarter!” Osborn hollered at offensive players doing drills. “I want their D line dog tired! Huddle up again. Anthony I said get set. Let’s go! Huddle up again.”

Somebody fumbled the ball in the drill that included 11 offensive players and Osborn shouted, “If we fumble you have to get on the ball! Everybody get down there on the goal line now! I told you yesterday I won’t stand for that s---. If you fumble you gotta get the ball back!”

Osborn had the players do four 20-yard sprints and return to midfield. Defensive coordinator Craig Cook took over and called out, “Solid dagger weak! Solid dagger weak! Dagger means you’re coming down. You got to fill these gaps here.”

The Bret Harte Bullfrogs varsity football team faces a former Mother Lode League rival for homecoming when they take on the Linden Lions at Dorroh Field at 7 p.m. Friday in Angels Camp.

It will be the Bullfrogs varsity program’s second game under Osborn, who accepted the post last week after Casey Kester’s sudden resignation. The Bullfrogs improved to 2-2 in non-league play last Friday with a 13-7 home victory over the visiting Arroyo High School Dons.

Linden played their last season in the Mother Lode League in 2017, when they finished 0-10 overall and 0-6 in league play. Last year they were 4-6 overall and finished 2-3 in Sierra Delta League play. They are 2-2 so far this year, with two consecutive defeats coming into the matchup with Bret Harte.

The blue-and-gold Lions won their first two games of the year, 43-6 over Franklin in Elk Grove on Aug. 23, and 35-7 over Gustine in Linden on Aug. 30, then lost 35-49 to Galt at home Sept. 6, and lost again 22-36 at Le Grand High School in Merced County on Sept. 13. The Lions did not play last week.

Last year Bret Harte defeated Linden 48-28 at Linden for Linden’s homecoming. Bret Harte committed four turnovers, and took the ball away from Linden six times. The Bullfrogs will obviously seek to beat Linden again, and avoid a homecoming embarrassment like Bret Harte laid on Linden last year.

Osborn is a Bret Harte graduate who played Bullfrogs football and continued playing football at Sacramento State University, and a former defensive coordinator for Bret Harte varsity football. He’s inherited some of the low roster numbers Kester dealt with earlier this year, and the numbers are improving slightly.

“We’re probably going to pick up one or two more players,” Osborn said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We might be up to like 18 this week. And we have some other kids who have just come on board so we won’t get them for another couple weeks. The new players need 10 days practice.”

Osborn praised the Linden Lions and their strengths, and said Bret Harte has work to do to be ready for their former league rivals.

“They’re pretty big up front,” Osborn said. “Their quarterback is an outstanding athlete. Very quick. Elusive. He loves to use his legs. He likes to make things happen. He’s smart enough to draw defenders out of the flats and then throw. He tries to put you on an island and force you to make a wrong decision.

“So we have to work real hard at containing him this week,” Osborn said. “That’s our focus defensively, is to try to stay disciplined with our coverage and contain, so he doesn’t get out in open space and make things happen with his legs, because he’s really good.”

Bret Harte is sticking with the split-back veer triple option in attack, Osborn said.

For Bret Harte High School’s homecoming, school authorities are touting special event pricing for the Linden-Bret Harte game. Tickets are supposed to be $8 for adults, $6 for students, $4 for seniors age 60 and older, and $4 for children under age 10. Students with associated student body stickers get in free. Gates at Dorroh Field open at 4:30 p.m. Bret Harte and Linden junior varsity teams play at 5 p.m.

The varsity matchup between Linden and Bret Harte is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Sept. 27. Bret Harte High School and Dorroh Field are at 364 Murphys Grade Road in Angels Camp.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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