The linebacker position for the Bruins is an area that only has one returning player, but he is key. Senior David Chorjel has gone above and beyond the call of duty and really put the defense on his shoulders.
“We graduated most of our linebacker corps,” said assistant coach Brock Boyle. “David Chorjel has stepped up big time, calling defense and filling a senior leader role. Varsity is a lot more high tempo, more demanding — it’s Friday night lights. It’s the show. The new faces get to know what varsity is about. It’s just like real life. You have to do your job.”
Not only has Chorjel stepped up as a leader this summer, but he has a football IQ and attitude that also compliments his tactics on the field.
“My intensity and not being intimated, those are my strengths,” Chorjel said. “I say to myself, ‘He’s not going to get past me.’ I’m doing everything I can to stop them, reading when the ball is snapped and reacting faster. And if it is a run, know where and get around blockers. We’re just going to keep our heads down and make the play. I’m looking forward to stuffing people at the line like Thanksgiving turkey.”
Joining Chorjel at linebacker are John Voter, and either Kyle Krogman or Zack Quirarte. Behind them at free safety will be junior Garrett Ramsour and, at strong safety, senior Kris Edie.
Edie and Chorjel wrapped up 54 tackles combined last season while the defense surrendered 22.5 points per game and allowed 271.5 yards.
“I led the team last year in interceptions,” said Edie, who hauled in four. “I’m looking forward to grabbing some more and just putting my head down and hitting some people. Logue is the reason why we can win a game 7-0. He’s just a really good coach who understands what’s going on.”
Over at right corner, Bear River has senior Michael Tipton, and left corner is currently still being battled for between senior Chris Stevenson and junior Ryan Wagner. Although Tipton looks to pile up yards at running back, he acknowledges the fact defense is vital.
“We’re based more on defense with David (Chorjel) at linebacker, said Tipton. “I’m good at reading the line, whether it’s a run or pass, and tackling. Our secondary is solid with Kris (Edie) at safety. I know I’m prepared and ready to go.”
Learning from faults and rolling with the punches is what this Bear River squad must do if it plans to improve in all facets of the game. There is so much potential bursting at the seams, and getting better each step of the way is inevitable.
“I’m always looking at progress,” Logue said. “In May, we were green and have made a lot of progress since then, and we’ll make even more. In November, when we look back, I want to say, ‘We got the most out of those guys.’”
Senior kicker Blake Nielsen has kicked field goals, PATs and kickoffs, but this season, he’s been working on something new — punting.
With J’Sean Harwood now graduated, Bear River is in dire need of someone to step up and pin the opposition deep.
“It’s a first for me,” said Nielsen. “It’s fun. There’s a lot of different technique and learning process.”
However, as the clock ticks down toward the season opener at Union Mine, the punting position still remains an open tryout heading into the final week of practice.
“Caleb Johnson is also in the mix for punting,” said co-head coach Terry Logue. “Blake has worked on that. He’s still our kicker for field goals, extra points and kickoffs. We’re looking at Austin Smith and Brad Botsford at long snapper for punting. Ryan Wagner and Botsford are competing for snapper for PAT attempts. Smith will be holding for our PATs.”
Last season, with Dillon Smith at the helm and multiple experienced backs, the Bruins seldom had to settle for a field goal, but being that this season has fewer experienced players, the punting is likely be tested on a more frequent basis, and it could spell trouble in the battle for precious field position.
“We have a great opportunity to showcase what we can do,” added Nielsen. “Last season, our third-down conversions were top notch. This season, I’m hoping to get some more opportunities to kick. Accuracy is definitely my strength. I played soccer at the state level for five years. It’ll be a challenge in the 40-yard range. My goal is for it to be a piece of cake inside 40.”
Special teams hasn’t had much attention to detail yet, but plenty of reps are on the way.
“It’s hard at the beginning of the year,” added Logue. “We’ll spend a lot of time on special teams this week. In our scrimmage Thursday, we’ll be doing a lot more of all three, kicking, punting and returns.”
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.