‘48 minutes to play, a lifetime to remember:’ Miners, Bruins set to kickoff COVID-delayed football season tonight | TheUnion.com
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‘48 minutes to play, a lifetime to remember:’ Miners, Bruins set to kickoff COVID-delayed football season tonight

The high school football season kicks off for Nevada Union and Bear River Friday night at Bear River’s J. David Ramsey Stadium as the Bruins and Miners face of for the first time ever in an official game. | Photo: Elias Funez

The high school football season kicks off tonight for Nevada Union and Bear River at Bear River’s J. David Ramsey Stadium as the Bruins and Miners face off for the first time ever in an official game.
Photo: Elias Funez

For many high school football players, the game is about far more than what happens between the lines on Friday nights.

It’s about testing themselves physically and mentally. It’s about being a part of a team, which for some can feel more like a family. It’s about playing the game they love with their friends. And, it’s about being part of something bigger than themselves.

“This is my second family and I just want to get one last ride with them,” said Bear River senior Tyler Dzioba. “We’ve been playing together since we were little and it means a lot.”



Tonight’s football game between the Bear River Bruins and the Nevada Union Miners isn’t open to the public because of COVID-safety concerns.
Photo: Elias Funez

Nevada Union quarterback Gabe Baker said the change in his teammates’ demeanor has been evident since high school football was given the green light to play an abbreviated season.

“Having a season is really important to all of us,” Baker said. “Everyone’s mood changed in a good way once we started practicing again. This is really important.”



Bear River High School’s football coaching staff has been gearing up for their first game of the season against Nevada Union High School scheduled for today.
Photo: Elias Funez

It’s football in March. It’s Bear River versus Nevada Union to kick off a six-game season. Despite all its oddity, coaches and players alike are ecstatic to be gearing up after a year of uncertainty.

“For the seniors, it’s a very special year because we weren’t sure we would get a sports season,” said Bear River senior Jacob Ayesteran, “I think we’re all just grateful we’re getting to play.”

The season kicks off for both football teams tonight at Bear River’s J. David Ramsey Stadium as the Bruins and Miners face off for the first time ever in an official game.

Nevada Union High School head coach Brad Sparks has been busy working with his team as they prepare for their first game of the adjusted football season in which they will face off against the Bear River Bruins.
Photo: Elias Funez
HOW TO WATCH THE GAME

Tonight’s Bear River vs. Nevada Union football game is closed to the general public.

Due to COVID-safety regulations, only a limited number of spectators are allowed in the stadium. Only specified immediate household members of those on the football teams are being admitted.

For live updates follow @WalterLFordIII on Twitter and visit The Union’s Facebook page. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. After the game visit TheUnion.com for a full recap.

The game will also be broadcast live on both Star 94 FM and KNCO 830 AM.

“The kids are excited to play football,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “They’re excited to play Nevada Union, I know (the Miners) got to feel the same up there.”

Nevada Union and Bear River have clashed on the gridiron in pre-season scrimmages off and on since 1987, but have never lined up against each other for a game that counted in the record books.

“We’re definitely excited for that,” Baker said. “… I’m glad we get to actually play them.”

Rain and inclement weather have been no deterrent for either the Bear River Bruins or Nevada Union Miners, as both teams have embraced their opportunities to practice and evenutally play football.
Photo: Elias Funez

With the state’s COVID-safety guidelines mandating schools only play other schools in their own county or directly adjacent counties, the matchup was an easy one for the two schools to put on the schedule. It’s also a matchup Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks wants to see on the schedule in future seasons.

“I would like to keep that going,“ said Sparks. “I want to keep the game we have with Colfax going, too. I think we have a really great community here with us, Colfax and Bear River. And, there’s always the talk of who is better. … I think it’s neat for the community and great for the kids. I have the utmost respect for Scott (Savoie) and Terry (Logue). Anybody who can coach that long and have the years of success they do, they’re doing everything right. Same thing with Tony (Martello) at Colfax. I aspire to be like them. I respect them. I respect their program, and it’s going to be fun.”

MINERS AT A GLANCE

The last time the Miners played an official game was a first-round playoff loss to Vanden Nov. 8, 2019, which concluded NU’s most successful season since 2012. The team returns a handful of starters, including Baker at quarterback, Drake Schlachter at defensive back, and a pair of senior lineman in Ezra Tout and Nathaniel Ward. Ball carriers with varsity reps are few for the Miners, but Sparks expects to see good things from NU’s stable of running backs at pass catchers.

A Nevada Union ball carrier runs up the sideline during practice earlier this week at Nevada Union High School.
Photo: Elias Funez

Sparks added he also expects it may take a bit for teams to find their stride considering the lack of time to properly prepare.

“We’re trying to do in three weeks what usually takes us three months,” he said. “… The crystal ball is telling me it’s going to be ugly at first. But the team that gets into its routine and gets under control first is probably going to have the most success.”

No matter how things shake out on the scoreboard Friday night, Sparks said he’s just happy his players are getting this opportunity.

“Forty-eight minutes to play, a lifetime to remember,” he said. “The kids are really excited, our staff is really excited, and I’m really excited for our seniors. Four weeks ago I never thought I’d be standing here preparing to play Bear River this week.”

BRUINS AT A GLANCE

Bear River’s varsity and junior varsity squads practiced together earlier this week in preparation of Friday’s matchup against the Nevada Union Miners.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Bruins come into the season on the heels of a 2019 season in which they went 8-4 overall and reached the second round of the playoffs.

“I like their grit,” Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue said of this year’s team. “I like their attitude. There are no prima donnas out here. They’re all working hard, and wanting to learn more than one position.”

They are led by returning starters in Jacob Ayestaran, who will play multiple positions on both sides of the ball this season, Dzioba at linebacker and offensive line, Justin McKim at receiver and defensive back, and Warren Davis, a three-year varsity starter on the line.

“The key to victory this season is team work,” said Davis. “We’re basically a family here. We’ve grown up together and we’ve all played together for years. I feel like we’re going to be a great team. I feel like we can win every game we play because of the tight bond we have.”

The Bruins have a relatively small roster with about 20 players, but all 20 will be contributors, said Savoie.

Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue could be seen out on the field helping to coach the varsity Bear River Bruins for another year.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I’m so dang proud of these kids,” he said. “We don’t have a bunch of kids, but we have kids that love football and love each other.”

CLEARED TO PLAY

As part of the California Health Department’s Youth Sports Guidelines, high school football games can only take place if all players and coaches are tested for COVID-19 the week of the contest and there are no positive results. Both varsity teams reported no positives after being tested earlier this week, clearing the way for tonight’s bout.

At the junior varsity level, there was a positive test for Nevada Union, and the game between the Miners and Bruins’ JV squads has been canceled.

The varsity Nevada Union Miners practice their kickoff/punt return techniques earlier this week at Nevada Union High School’s Hooper Stadium.
Photo: Elias Funez

LIMITED SEATING

Tonight’s Bear River vs. Nevada Union football game is closed to the general public.

Due to COVID-19 safety regulations, only a limited number of specified immediate household members of players will be allowed in the stands. Anyone who purchased tickets to the game through GoFans.com will have their money refunded in two to three days, said Savoie.

For live updates from the game follow @WalterLFordIII on Twitter and visit The Union’s Facebook page. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. After the game visit TheUnion.com for a full recap.

The game will also be broadcast live on both Star 94 FM and KNCO 830 AM.

The Bear River Bruins practice on the lacrosse turf field earlier this week.
Photo: Elias Funez

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com.

 


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