The Bear River Bruins are not wasting anytime this season, digging in against a quality Pacheco team in Week Zero of the 2014 prep football season.
“They are definitely loaded,” Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie said of Pacheco. “They are a very talented group, there’s no doubt about that.”
Pacheco (Los Banos), a playoff team last season, returns their quarterback and top two rushers from 2013.
The Panthers run an option style offense which heavily features their fullback, Frank Ginda. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 227 pound bruiser ran for 1,087 yards last season with 17 touchdowns and a 9.06 average per carry.
Quarterback Juwan Epperson is a dual threat as a signal caller, rushing for 505 yards and seven touchdowns last season while throwing for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Their quarterback runs a lot of option plays,” Savoie said. “He can throw the ball well and pass the ball well.”
In addition to Ginda and Epperson is senior running back Moffat Teneng who ran for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. The Bruins should expect a heavy dose of Epperson, Teneng and Ginda, who as the trio accounted for 79 percent of the Panthers ground game last season.
Ginda’s football prowess is not only limited to the offensive side of the ball as he tallied 81 tackles and three sacks as a linebacker last season.
“They have a very tenacious defense,” Savoie said. “They run six, seven, eight man fronts and blitz a lot, so that’s a concern.”
The Bruins will have first year starter Austin Smith at quarterback, and he will be tested by the Pacheco defense which tallied 18 sacks last season.
Pacheco and Bear River have never played before, something Savoie said is both a good and bad thing.
“It’s always interesting and exciting playing someone new,” he said. “You never really know what to expect. The good news is they are in the same situation as us, but they have to come here.”
Bear River will host Pacheco at J. David Ramsey Field, a place they haven’t lost a non-league regular season game since 2006 (Yuba City, 24-7).
Since 2010, the Bruins are 19-1 in non-league regular season play, with their last loss coming against Woodcreek (9/17/2010).
“Obviously this game is important and we want to win,” said Savoie. “We’ve upped the ante this year and we want to play good teams... They play good football, they are in a talented league (Western Athletic Conference) and this is a big game for us.”
The game will also be the first time fans will get to see the many new faces for Bear River.
With juniors Dave Mastrella, Kyle Uclaray and David O’Brien joining seniors Smith, John Voter and Ryan Wagner as the main offensive threats the Bruins have plenty of firepower heading into the opening game.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at J. David Ramsey Field.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.