The Bear River Bruins 2013 football season is set to kickoff under the lights Sept. 6 at Union Mine, and the players and coaching staff are plenty eager to see what this bunch can do.
“The first game: It’s very, very, very important to us to kick off our year,” said co-head coach Scott Savoie. “It sets the tone — huge emphasis. Our focal point is positioning ourselves for league.”
The first contact these young Bruins will have with another opponent is Thursday when they host Mesa Verde in a scrimmage.
“We’re young and green,” said assistant coach Mo Barrios. “The scrimmage this week is our first chance to butt heads and trade paint with another team. It’s going to be baptism by fire. With a lot of these younger guys, it won’t be until week seven or eight when they figure it out.”
Last season, the Bruins got off to a hot start by rattling off a streak of six consecutive victories. In those contests, they outscored their opponents 188-108, an average margin of victory of 13.3 points. Similar numbers are going to be hard to duplicate with this season’s younger and less experienced group.
“Overall, I’d say were a B-plus, A-minus,” said co-head coach Terry Logue. “I like a lot of stuff were doing. We’re not fighting through the hot, smokey days — picture day. Mentally, once our tougher attitude comes around, we’ll be pretty good.”
Looking ahead at the season schedule though week five, Bear River’s other non-conference opponents include Woodland, Highlands, River Valley and Eureka. The Oct. 4 matchup versus Eureka does jump off the page a little as odd, but as Savoie will tell you, it’s just as important as the rest of them, and the team is fortunate to have gotten the game lined up.
“It’s scary,” said Savoie, referring to the thought of only having nine games on the schedule as opposed to 10. “It happened to Union Mine two years ago and cost them a playoff position in the tie-breakers. Scotts Valley’s bye week didn’t match up this year, so we had to find someone else. We called Eureka and hounded them. They didn’t have a coach in there, so we couldn’t get an answer. Once Jason White was hired, I got a hold of him and was able to lock it in place.”
Pioneer Valley League play begins week six when Bear River welcomes rival Colfax to J. David Ramsey Field. The stakes are also sure to be high in week seven when Placer makes the trip up Highway 49. However, unlike last season when the Bruins finished with three consecutive home games, this season boasts a new challenge by closing things out with three on the road at Center, Lincoln and Foothill.
A recent ranking of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 154 teams was released by MaxPreps and has the PVL scattered across the board with Center as the favorite breaking through the top 10 at seventh. Coming in at 39th is Placer followed by Colfax at 51st, Lincoln at 74th, Bear River at 75th and Foothill at 107th.
“I know Colfax is returning a lot of players,” said Brock Boyle, assistant coach. “They’re going to be dangerous. Center also has their QB back who is fast and can throw. It’s a joke with the rankings. We’re never ranked up high. I like it that way. It gets to your head when teams buy into the newspaper clippings.”
Also rejoining the team on the field this season are assistant coaches Damon Turner and Duane Zauner, who aided the team last year as its eyes in the sky.
“It’s a joy to be back,” Zauner said. “Last season, I helped up top. It’s the hardest time of year — no games — guys are not believing their reads enough. We have to fight through it. It’s a wall to go through.”
Savoie was thrilled to add the extra talent and knowledge to his staff.
“We’re excited to have the new additions,” said Savoie. “It was a good move for our athletic program to get (Zauner) back. Both guys just know what they’re talking about.”
It may be easy for some to write this season off as a “rebuilding year,” but from watching the Bruins’ practice sessions, the vibe remains one full of optimism and promise.
“We’re slowly progressing,” said assistant coach Dean Sweeney. “The challenge is fun with the extra work. We’ll step it up and give it all we got.”
As Bear River embarks on its journey into the 2013 season with young blood and high hopes, it’s important not to judge this team by its cover and let the plot play itself out.
“They’re very coachable kids, not the most talented, but you hear the word ‘young,’ and sometimes you think they don’t know any better,” added assistant coach Damon Turner. “In this case, I hope that’s a good thing.”
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.