After two weeks of Pioneer Valley League play, it’s safe to say it’s still anybody’s league to win or lose.
With Bear River being crushed by Placer, Lincoln throttling Foothill and Colfax flopping at Center, the league is looking more and more like we could have one of those classic, we-beat-you-you-beat them-but-they-beat-us endings. A three- or even four-way tie is possible if the cards fall into place. Of course, the steepest, slickest road ahead for anyone is the Bruins’ (5-2, 0-2 PVL).
Fireworks were expected to go off Friday night at J. David Ramsey Field in what most anticipated to be a highly competitive match between Bear River and Placer, but the Hillmen had other plans, and the Bruins apparently didn’t get the memo.
The only show that was put on was Placer’s running attack, which racked up 463 yards on 39 carries — more than enough for a first down every time on average. The Hillmen hung 49 points on the board to the Bruins’ seven and marched off the field with their second straight PVL win.
Meanwhile, Bear River is still searching for its first league victory, and if it can’t right its ship fast, there may very well be no place for it in the postseason.
The Bruins face the daunting task of having to win at least two out of their final three games, all of which are on the road and two of which are against teams against whom they will be underdogs. Center (4-3, 1-1 PVL) and Lincoln (6-1, 2-0 PVL) is what’s on tap. Banking on a win over Foothill (1-6, 0-2 PVL) does Bear River no good.
Looking back the last two weeks in painful losses to Colfax and Placer, it’s evident that the Bruins need to light a fire, and they need to light it now. As hard as it is, those games have to be let go, and the focus must be shifted ahead.
On Friday at halftime, when the Bruins trailed 35-7, they had only 46 yards rushing to the Hillmen’s 265. However, that was already more than last year’s Bruins could muster against the Hillmen for the entire game when they lost 14-7. The difference last week was defense. Placer simply couldn’t be stopped. The Hillmen even threw for 103 yards and a touchdown to go with their six rushing scores. In the week prior against Colfax, the Bruins had surrendered 28 points but were still very much in the game until the bitter end. This contest, however, had nothing pretty about it — just one team purely dominating the other.
Bear River’s offense failed to make it into the red zone in the second half. It drove down close to Placer’s 30-yard line a few times, but once in that vicinity, the Bruins turned it over on downs. For the game, the offense went three-and-out five times, one which was actually a punt on third down when the Bruins were backed up. On Bear River’s lone scoring drive in the first quarter, it sped up the tempo of its offense, much like Placer, and was able to finally break through with a Brad Botsford score. It was encouraging to see, and even though Botsford stood on the sideline for all of the second half, running back Caleb Johnson showed flashes of brilliance — a welcome sight after suffering a dislocated collarbone only five weeks before.
Should Botsford not be able to carry his normal load these final few weeks, Johnson is going to have to be the catalyst. As accurate as Braden Duncan has been at quarterback, he hasn’t shown the consistency necessary to create plays by himself, and while dropped passes or poor blocking up front are sometimes to blame, it’s going to take a whole team effort to save this season. It’s not just that the Bruins lost to Placer that should scare them, but it’s how they lost. Both co-head coaches Terry Logue and Savoie were expecting a hard-nosed, grind-it-out kind of game. Logue even went as far to blame himself.
“I take the blame on defense,” said Logue. “They didn’t run anything we weren’t expecting.”
One thing is for certain: If the Bruins are to salvage this season, they need to come out fired up this Friday.
“The Bruins have to bounce back here — lost a heart-breaker and got our butts kicked tonight,” added Savoie, referring to the team’s last two games. “Now we finish on the road here. Life doesn’t get any easier.”
This week, while Bear River puts on its road jerseys for the first time in more than a month and battles Center. Lincoln will be visiting Placer in a game that will decide who moves into first place all by its lonesome. Up in Colfax, the Falcons have the so-called “gimme game” as they host Foothill and will likely notch the all-important second PVL win, which qualifies a squad for a playoff bid but doesn’t guarantee anything.
Center 45, Colfax 28
The Cougars snapped a three-game skid Friday, beating Colfax with strong defensive play and a steady ground game.
Senior quarterback Tyrel Anderson erupted for 131 yards passing, 128 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns to lead Center past the previously unbeaten Falcons.
Center’s Joe Swen was the work horse, rushing the ball 28 times for 102 yards and two scores.
For Colfax, Michael Wilson added to his impressive touchdown total, hitting his receivers for three scores, giving him 28 on the season, but he was also picked three times in the loss.
Colfax’s Kyle Bryant had an inspired game with 12 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as Colfax dropped to 6-1 overall and 1-1 in PVL play.
Colfax will host Foothill (1-6, 0-2 PVL) Friday, and Center (4-3, 1-1 PVL) hosts Bear River.
Lincoln 43, Foothill 19
The Fighting Zebras of Lincoln rolled over Foothill Friday, amassing 482 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to win easily.
Senior Landon Croisant led the ground attack with 155 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Senior Eddy Cobliegh tallied 96 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, quarterback Davis Dykstra scrambled for 86 yards and two scores, and Terance Bolden added 139 rushing yards in the game.
Lincoln (6-1, 2-0 PVL) travels to Placer Friday to battle it out for the top spot in league. Foothill travels to Colfax.