Getcha’ popcorn ready. It’s finally time to raise the curtain and see what this season’s Bear River football team is made of.
Tonight under the lights at Union Mine, the 2013 Bruins will look to catapult their season in the right direction with a big road win over a familiar foe. The Bruins began their 2012 campaign with a 35-8 victory at home versus the Diamondbacks and although this year’s group features a much different composition, the team is eager to see if history can find a way to repeat itself.
“I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night,” said co-head coach Terry Logue after Thursday’s practice. “We had a pretty successful scrimmage last week. We’ll see if it carries over, but (Union Mine) has a game under their belt so I think that might be a slight advantage to them, but we’ll find out tomorrow.”
Union Mine was indeed able to get a feel for some game situations as it opened on the road last week and suffered a 49-6 loss against El Camino, a contest in which it allowed 243 yards rushing.
“Yeah, it kind of a toss up in that way,” added co-head coach Scott Savoie. “They did have a game, but they didn’t really have a game to go watch us play in either so we got a chance to see them under pressure in a real game situation and I think that’s helpful, but that first game out every year is always an interesting one. You just never know exactly what to expect.”
Union Mine, much like Bear River, has endured an offseason where it lost some of its key contributing leaders. The squad finished 2-8 last year and allowed 37.6 points per game while scoring just 14.5 per game. Senior running back Sean Tow and quarterback Scott McIntyre have since moved on. Tow racked up 1,239 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, but this season the Diamondbacks bring back Jake Horn and Tyler Parker to fill his shoes.
“Well (Horn) was their tailback last year when (Tow) was hurt,” said Logue. “He did a good job for him and we expect him to get a lot of carries. He split the carries with No. 4 (Austin Rigsby) last week. (Horn) is a tough, hard runner and we’re going to have to try and get him at the point of attack before he gets into the second level.”
Horn ran for 128 yards on 25 carries against Bear River last season. However, it proved to be a one-dimensional offensive performance as Union Mine could only muster 56 yards passing. Bear River’s stout defense recovered a fumble and sacked the Diamondbacks five times. Now graduated Jake Savoie wrapped up three of the sacks and recovered the fumble. This season David Chorjel will be called up in the lead linebacker role.
“We just hope to be in the plus category, get a couple turnovers, play great special teams and gang tackle on defense,” Logue said. “(Union Mine) spreads out and they do a lot of different formations and their quarterback can run so they create some problems even though they didn’t get loose a lot last week.”
Surprisingly last week Union Mine gave most of its carries (13) to sophomore Austin Rigsby and the team was led by sophomore Brody Pearman at quarterback.
The Bruins had eight different backs contribute positive gains for 180 yards in last season’s match up and among those were Michael Tipton and Caleb Johnson who will be called upon this season behind the younger, less experienced o-line.
“Well I think it comes down to the same thing always,” said Savoie. “We have to execute. And I’m getting tired of saying it, but we have a very young offensive line. But they’ve come a long way in three weeks and over the summer and we’re looking forward to seeing what they bring. I think we have really good backfield... but it all comes down to what’s going to happen up front.”
Tonight senior Braden Duncan will look to lead the offense in his first ever start at quarterback. Last season, behind a more experienced offensive line quarterback Dillon Smith completed 75 percent of his passes against Union Mine for 130 yards and a touchdown, but it was really the relentless defense combined with the rushing attack that kept the Diamondbacks on their toes. It might very well be the same formula for success in today’s matchup.
“We have a hard-hitting, aggressive defense,” said assistant coach Mo Barrios. “There’s a lot of work to be done on offense. Being such a young team, getting flustered, it’s going to happen.”
Meanwhile Bear River warmed up last week with a scrimmage against Mesa Verde.
“It was good getting a chance to hit somebody else besides ourselves,” assistant coach Duane Zauner said. “I hope we can carry it over.”
There were also some issues that arose in the Bruins’s scrimmage that will be areas of focus come kickoff at tonight’s season opener.
“Couple of things — we had way too many penalties even though the refs didn’t enforce the penalties last week,” said Logue. “I think we had at least four or five penalties — some of them were 15-yarders so we have to clean that up. The other is that we have to keep our cool. There were a couple times we lost our cool and started to get into little pushing and shoving matches out there and that’s not Bear River football.”
If Bear River can create opportunities on both sides of the ball, especially on defense as its offense adjusts to find a rhythm, then Union Mine is going to be forced from the comfort of its run game as it battles the clock. A lot that can happen, but with a clean slate the Bruins have a lot to gain.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“But that first game out every year is always an interesting one. You just never know exactly what to expect.”