PREP FOOTBALL: Bruins gear up for road bout with Foothill | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Bruins gear up for road bout with Foothill

Bear River's Josh Zimmer follows his blockers during a game against Lincoln last week. Zimmer and the Bruins head to Foothill today to face the Mustangs.

In many of ways it's been a strange week for the Bear River football team.

The Bruins (5-1, 0-1 Pioneer Valley League) are coming off a loss for the first time this season, they have had their practice schedule thrown out of whack as local fires have caused school cancellations and poor air quality, and they will be preparing to play for the first time all year without their most potent offensive weapon.

"It's been a really weird week," said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. "Coach (Terry) Logue and I are both routine guys. We really believe in keeping things the same. We're very much into routines and it was thrown off this week with school being canceled on Monday and Tuesday, and then we had a spare the air day yesterday where we practiced inside. It's been a strange week, but the kids have handled it OK."

This team is no stranger to adversity, though, and time after time the Bruins have risen above the obstacles in front of them.

Bear River overcame early season injuries and suspensions to start 5-0, and did so in convincing fashion, outscoring their opponents, 180-43.

The Bruins suffered their first loss of the season last week, coming on the road at Lincoln in the PVL opener for both teams.

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"Everything is still on the table for the Bruins," said Savoie. "It would have been great to go 10-0, but there's other things on the table for us. We want to flip our record from a season ago and that's still on the table. We want to make it to the playoffs. We would like to a have a piece of the PVL championship. Those things are still there. We just got to get back up and fight."

Bear River now turns its attention to another league foe, the Foothill Mustangs (1-5, 0-1 PVL).

"They are the typical Foothill team," said Savoie. "They are always very athletic … They are huge up front on the offensive line and defensive line and they got speed."

Foothill has shifted offensive schemes from a season ago, going from the Wing-T to a spread approach under new head coach Anthony Eustace.

Leading the Mustangs offense this season has been senior quarterback Carlos Merced and receivers Traivion Drummer and Isaiah Churchill. Foothill also has an impact player in T.J. Pesefea, a 6-foot, 5-inch 275-pound offensive and defensive lineman.

"They're the type of team that at any given moment can get back in the game or get up on you because of their explosiveness," said Savoie.

The Bruins defense gave up more than 19 points in a game for the first time all season a week ago, and will look to regain the ferocious form it displayed when allowing just 8.6 points per game in non-league play.

"Our goal is always to eliminate big plays," said co-head coach Logue. "Last week, Lincoln got two long passes and had a long kick return, so we need to get back on track where we make them drive the length of the field and not give up plays more than 20 yards."

On the offensive side of the ball, Bear River will be without senior Stephen Taylor, who leads the team in rushing yards (444), yards per carry (10.3) and total touchdowns (eight). Taylor was injured in the first half against Lincoln.

Savoie said it will be several different Bruins that will step into the role vacated by Taylor, who is out for this game and will be reevaluated next week.

Bear River has a bevy of backs that will carry the load with Austin Baze, Josh Zimmer, Tre Maronic, Clayton Anderson, Travis Carpenter and Hunter Daniels.

"I really think Austin Baze is getting back into the groove," said Logue. "He missed the first (three) games, but I think he's really finding his groove and I expect Austin to have a big second half of the year."

Since returning after an injury sidelined him through the first three weeks, Baze has rushed 13 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns as he's been eased back into the offensive gameplan.

Bear River's passing game made strides last week as senior quarterback Luke Baggett posted his best numbers of the season.

"(Baggett) is a competitor," said Savoie. "He doesn't like to lose and he's going to lay it out there for you. I really believe that he's the kind of kid that will be his best in those big moments."

For the season, Baggett is completing 55-percent of his passes, is averaging 124.6 yards per game and has four touchdown passes to go with four interceptions. He threw for a season-high 237 yards against Lincoln.

The Bruins have had the Mustangs number since 2010, winning seven straight over Foothill. And, with rival Colfax looming next week, Logue said he and the Bear River staff are doing the best they can to make sure the team is focused on this week's opponent.

"Well, you talk about it until you are blue in the face," Logue said. "It's hard not to look ahead. But Foothill has a lot of talent and even though they've lost games, they've scored quite a few points. We've focused on that this week. Their record doesn't reflect how good they are. We're trying to play Foothill and not Colfax this week."

The Bruins and Mustangs are set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Foothill High School in Sacramento. For Bear River, it will be the final game of a four-game road trip that began in mid-September.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

Know & GO

What: Bear River (5-1) at Foothill (1-5)

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Foothill High School, 5000 McCloud Dr, Sacramento

Follow along: On Twitter @TheUnionSports or online at TheUnion.com

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