After several weeks of honing their skills in the dog days of summer the Bear River Jr. Bruins are ready to shed their practice jerseys, dawn the cardinal and gray, and get the season started.
“I’m very excited,” Jr. Bruins quarterback Garrett Pratt said of starting the regular season. “I think we will do good as long as we cooperate and work as a team.”
Pratt will be the signal caller for the Jr. Bruins midget division team, which, along with the jr. midget division, made it to the Sierra Valley USA Youth Football championship last season.
“Last year, I took a team that had won only one game the previous season, and we played fantastic, we went a long way, made it to the championship,” said midget division head coach Jeff Smith, who has been with the program for 12 years. “Now I’m getting a team that went to the championship, which is a little strange for me.”
Smith said he has high hopes for another strong regular season and deep run into the playoffs.
“We did lose quite a few of the key players that made that team last year,” he said. “But, we got some new faces out here and the football gods have been good to me, and sent me this kid Garrett Pratt and he shows a lot of potential.”
While winning is what each team strives for in the Jr. Bruin program, what individual players gain by being part of the program isn’t measured in wins and losses.
What Smith said he hopes players take from their experience with the Jr. Bruins is a sense of team, community and that the kids realize what can be accomplished when working as a unit.
“This is a team sport and as long as you give everything you got, and work as a team there is a lot of stuff you can accomplish,” he said. “And, never forget where you come from.”
The Jr. Bruins are fielding teams at all levels this season, but each team is thin as far as depth, said Jr. Bruin president Sarah Dzioba.
The reasons for lack of participation can be attributed to several things said Dzioba. The sport can be expensive, the commitment is considerable and many parents worry about injuries.
Dzioba said the program has tried to make it so anyone who wants to play can with lowered registration and scholarships. She also said the Jr. Bruins are part of USA Heads Up Football, a program that promotes safety in youth football.
“Were trying to teach the kids to tackle with their heads up and prevent injuries,” she said.
But the lack of participation hasn’t diminished the programs drive to win.
“I think that all our teams will do well,” Dzioba said. “The pee wees have a fantastic team this year... I just hope we continue to have teams in the playoffs and maybe reach the championship.”
The Jr. Bruins play a nine-game regular season schedule which kicks off today at the San-Joaquin Jr. Rams.
For more information on the Jr. Bruins visit www.brjb.net.