Giants-Dodgers, Kings-Lakers, the Bear River Bruins and the Colfax Falcons under the Friday night lights — it doesn’t get any better than this.
Rivalries are what bring out the best in sports and tonight Bruin Nation and Colfax collide for their 26th meeting at Bear River with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. This year the stage is bigger and brighter than ever as both teams lay their 5-0 records on the line to battle for their first Pioneer Valley League win.
“The rivalry has been since 1986,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “I came to Bear River in 1987 so I’ve played them ever since then except for the two years I was gone when coach Savoie took over. The overall series is 14-11 in favor of Colfax. It’s just an intense rivalry because they’re so close — our kids know their kids, they know us, we know their coaches. Their defensive coordinator is a former Bear River player and his son is their starting linebacker so there’s all kinds of interesting little subplots. But I think this is the first time where it’s been 5-0 versus 5-0 or undefeated versus undefeated.”
When it’s all said and done one team will leave 6-0 and the other 5-1, but numbers and ink printed on paper won’t justify the emotion and determination that will be exerted on the gridiron. Lots of blood, sweat and tears will come out of this one.
“This game pretty much reflects our whole senior year,” said Bruins’ senior quarterback Braden Duncan, who is 46-of-71 passing for 701 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. “We’ve been waiting our whole high school careers for this game and it’s going to be big. It’s going to be crazy — I don’t know I’m excited. Fans are going to be going crazy — it’s going to be wild out there.”
As is tradition, Bear River listened in on what some of its seniors had to say after Thursday’s practice and there was one speech in particular that served to be extra inspirational.
“This game is what I’ve been waiting for,” said Bruins starting right guard Brandon Leipsic, who described the speech he gave. “After my hip surgery, laying in bed and not being able to play it gives you a whole different perspective on football and how much it means to you. It’s the reason I stayed on the sidelines for so long — games like these of this magnitude that it’s so important to win and it’s the biggest game of our life. I’m excited to see the turnout and see how many people show up to cheer us on.”
Colfax may lead the all-time series 14-11, however bragging rights currently belong to Bear River after it knocked off Colfax last season 24-14 — its first victory against the Falcons since 2008. Ironically, that victory also sent the Bruins to a 6-0 record. Now the scene shifts back to J. David Ramsey Field with both teams looking to keep their streaks alive to stay undefeated, but more importantly it’s about the cardinal and gray clashing with the forest green, white and silver.
“I try not to (say their name),” said Bear River starting linebacker David Chorjel. “I don’t like that color, I don’t like that word, I don’t like the Falcons. It’s definitely just from being told we’re rivals with them. It’s different when you’re playing them — all sports, not even just football, in baseball, everything, it definitely is different playing them than any other game.”
Bear River enters the game ranked 33rd in the Sac-Joaquin Section while Colfax comes in at 34th and the Sacramento Bee has the Bruins ranked 20th and the Falcons at 19th so something has to give Friday night.
“We’ve put together two spectacular weeks of practice and preparation,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “I feel we’ve done about everything we can do in preparation to win this game. We’re playing a tough opponent. Sometimes I think (Colfax’s) defense is overshadowed by what they do on their offensive side. They get after it.”
The Bruins average 35 points per game and have allowed a league-low 12.6. The Falcons average 38 points per game and have allowed 14.8, the second fewest in the PVL. In its first five games Bear River has rushed for more than twice the yards the Falcons have, but Colfax has passed for more than twice the yards the Bruins have — two unique formulas that have both achieved perfect records.
“Lot of nightmares went into preparation,” said Logue. “They’ve got the best passing attack maybe next to Folsom in the entire Section, a really good quarterback, three really good receivers, good running backs and they block really well. They’re an offensive machine averaging 30-something points a game. (Michael Wilson) has thrown 22 touchdowns so we got our work cut out for us on defense, but our kids have really, really worked hard think week. We’re trying several different things and see how they go.”
In the Bruins victory over the Falcons last season they allowed 212 yards passing and only 78 on the ground. However, the real game-changers were the four interceptions that Bear River was able to snatch from junior quarterback Wilson. Now one year later Wilson is back and the Bear River defense is hungrier than ever to make it two in a row.
“It means a lot,” added Chorjel, referring to the rivalry. “There’s going to be a lot of people here — big stage tonight with two 5-0 teams so it means a lot to play the home town rivals.”
It sure would be nice to come up with four turnovers again, but the way Colfax and Wilson have been operating Bear River is going to need to put together some longer methodical offensive drives to bleed the clock if it wants to slow the Falcons down. Last year the Bruins were held to just 52 yards rushing against the Falcons. Bear River senior fullback Brad Botsford leads the team in rushing this season with 82 carries for 513 yards and 12 touchdowns. His effectiveness will be something to watch as the game progresses.
Colfax certainly has lots of flair with it’s passing game. At the midway point of the 2013 season Falcons’ senior quarterback Wilson has 22 touchdowns with just four interceptions and should give the Bruins’ secondary all they can handle. He already has two games with 300 yards passing or better. The Falcons aren’t exactly a one man show at receiver either. The squad features a triple threat with seniors Chas Reisinger, Kyle Bryant and Chris Harshman. The squad own wins over Argonaut, El Camino, Union Mine, Woodland and Mesa Verde.
“As far as the rivalry thing it’s a big game for our kids,” added Savoie. “There’s been some great games over the past several years and it’s a big deal for us and for the kids.”
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email email@example.com.