The Bear River football squad has been outscored 72-0 by the Colfax Falcons over the past two seasons, and in 2009, it lost a heartbreaker 31-30 on a blocked extra point in overtime.
That sort of history would leave a bad taste in anybody’s mouth.
Of course, statistics don’t carry as much significance when you are in a hostile environment, taking on your arch rival.
Tomorrow the Bruins (5-0) try to continue their successful season as they open Pioneer Valley League play at Colfax (3-2).
Bruins quarterback Dillion Smith returned from his shoulder injury last week when Bear River took down Scotts Valley, 41-31. Smith showed no signs of rust, completing 13-of-22 passes to bring him to 542 yards, five touchdowns and just two interceptions on the season.
Cameron Barrios, who had temporarily replaced Smith, also returned to defense after nursing a sore groin, wrapping up five tackles and snagging an interception. Barrios leads the team with 34 tackles this season.
Bear River enters tonight’s game averaging 32 points per game compared to Colfax’s 29. Running back Cody Heard leads the Bruins with nine touchdowns on just 49 carries for 241 yards, followed by Michael Raigoza, who has four touchdowns on 50 carries for 302 yards. In the receiving department, Tevyn Kimble leads the team with 15 catches for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
The good news for Bear River is Colfax’s quarterback from a season ago, Austin Young, has graduated. But the Falcons have bred another talented quarterback, junior Michael Wilson, who has emerged as one of the PVL’s newest top performers. Wilson has thrown for a total of 1,356 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“They only have one senior on offense, but their kids always get better and better,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “Wilson is a junior, has a great arm and makes good decisions.”
Colfax features a dynamic offense that loves to put the ball in the air and relies on its talented core of receivers. However, the Falcons also average 123 yards rushing per game, giving them the ability to keep any opponent honest.
“Defending the play-action pass is definitely going to be a reoccurring issue, but people often forget to give them credit for their running game too,” said Savoie.
Receivers Kyle Bryant, Chas Reisinger and Christopher Harshman have recorded a combined 70 catches, good for 1,153 yards. Bryant has been the biggest threat to opponents, averaging 105 yards receiving per game. Tim Rawlins is the Falcons leading rusher with 53 carries for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
“They’re the two-time defending PVL champs,” said Savoie. “Our guys respect that. We aren’t looking past them.”
Last season the Bruins fell hard to Colfax in a contest that was over by halftime, as the Falcons led 41-0 and eventually won 48-0. In that game, the Bruins had only 16 yards passing to go with three interceptions. Bear River did manage to run for 247 yards, but the Falcons’ defense held strong, and their offense amassed 215 yards through the air and 177 yards on the ground.
“Last year was terrible,” said Savoie. “We didn’t play our best, and we were out of it early.”
This year, the Falcons’ defense has allowed a mere 13 points per game, while the Bruins have given up an average of 19. Putting pressure on Wilson in the backfield is going to be crucial if the Bruins want to disrupt the rhythm of the Falcons’ offense. Last year, Bear River failed to record a sack. Jake Savoie and J’Sean Harwood lead the Bruins this season with four sacks each.
“The league kept this as the last game of the season for years, but now we are jumping right into the fire,” Scott Savoie said. “I admire the heart of this team. We’ve battled from behind, regrouped, and now we just want to play well in the big game and be in the thick of it.”
Tradition between Bear River and Colfax has always been unforgettable for fans, parents and students. Everyone comes out and packs the house for this much-anticipated thriller, Savoie said.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org