HILMAR — The Bruins felt the Yellowjackets’ sting early and often Friday night.
Facing the defending Division 6AA State Champions on their turf, Bear River’s football team struggled to keep pace with the potent Hilmar attack and fell, 49-17, in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section D6 playoffs.
“They were spot on, and we got shell shocked a little bit,” Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie said. “They’re a good football team. A really, really good football team. We just couldn’t find a stop, we made too many silly mistakes offensively and penalties killed us at key times. The Yellowjackets came ready to play tonight, there’s no doubt about that. Hats off to them for that. I look at that scoreboard and it’s hard to believe. I don’t think they’re 32 points better than us, but they sure as heck were tonight.”
Hilmar, the No. 2 seed, scored touchdowns on all six of its first half possessions en route to a 42-10 halftime lead. The No. 7 Bruins played them evenly in the second half, but the first half damage was too much to overcome.
“They executed and we didn’t,” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue. “We just did not play good defense, bottom line. We didn’t tackle and we didn’t cover. (Hilmar’s) quarterback did a good job of hitting people in the open and we got behind, made mistakes and it just snowballed.”
Hilmar’s offense could do no wrong early on and put up 14 quick points coming on a 4-yard touchdown run by Cole Bailey, and a 57-yard touchdown pass from Seth Miguel to Aidan Azevedo.
The Bruins responded by driving deep into Yellowjackets territory, but were forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal off the foot of Cade Torgerson.
Hilmar then reeled off 21 straight points, getting a 6-yard scoring burst from Bailey, a 27-yard touchdown pass from Miguel to Azevedo and a 14-yard touchdown jaunt from Justin Barros.
Bear River finally reached paydirt when sophomore fullback Ryder Kiggins powered in from 3-yards out with 1:26 left in the half.
That was plenty of time for the Yellowjackets to squeeze in one more score before the break. Hilmar got a good kick return, then knifed through the Bruins defense with a couple big chunk gains and finished the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Miguel to Barros with 33 seconds to spare.
Miguel finished the night 15-of-18 for 332 yards and four touchdowns.
Leading the Bruins on both sides of the ball were seniors Tre Maronic and Colton Jenkins. Maronic completed 7-of-11 passes for 139 yards. He also had 27 yards receiving and 25 yards on the ground, including a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. On defense, he tallied seven tackles.
Jenkins led all Bruins with 10 tackles. On offense, he caught four passes for 101 yards. He also threw for 46 yards and rushed for 21 yards.
Senior defensive lineman Caleb Hurst tallied Bear River’s only sack in the game.
“I stand by this team,” said Savoie. “They are a gritty group. They were out here battling ‘til the end. I think they overachieved as a group.”
Logue added, “They played Bruin football. They played hard, they ran hard and they gave us everything they had.”
The loss ends a season in which the Bruins went 8-4 overall and reached the playoffs for the third straight season.
Bear River graduates just six seniors from the team, but all six played big roles in this year’s success.
“We’ve never ever had fewer than six seniors, but we had six pretty dang good seniors and we’re going to miss them that’s for sure,” said Savoie. “They provided us with some really good leadership.”
Hilmar (10-1) advances to the D6 semifinals where they will host No. 3 Ripon Christian.
“It’s tough at the end of these things,” said Savoie. “There’s only one team out of Division 6 that is going to walk out of this thing happy, and I got a feeling it could be (Hilmar).”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4232.
SCORE BY QUARTER
YELLOWJACKETS 49, BRUINS 17
H: Cole Bailey 4-yard run (#50 kick) 9:10
H: Aidan Azevedo 56-yard pass from Seth Miguel (#50 kick) 6:06
BR: Cade Torgerson 32-yard field goal 4:11
H: Bailey 6-yard run (#50 kick) 11:57
H: Azevedo 27-yard pass from Miguel (#50 kick) 9:01
H: Justin Barros 14-yard run (#50 kick) 3:53
BR: Ryder Kiggins 3-yard run (Torgerson kick) 1:26
H: Barros 27-yard pass from Miguel (#50 kick) :33
H: Barros 37-yard pass from Miguel (#50 kick) 4:44
BR: Tre Maronic 4-yard run (Torgerson kick) 4:42