PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River’s historic season ends in Fortuna | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River’s historic season ends in Fortuna

FORTUNA — Bear River's inspired run through the postseason came to an end on a chilly Saturday night along California's north coast, concluding a historic year for the Bruins' football program.

"They are one of the top (Bear River) teams of all-time," Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue said. "There are only six (Bear River) teams with 10 wins or more. They are section champions and they are a bowl representative, the first one we've ever had. They went from also rans at 6-3 to all of a sudden one of the best teams we've had in the history of the school. We have to give them credit because they fought and everything they got, they earned. They worked hard for it."

Competing against a physical Fortuna Huskies squad, the Bruins dug themselves a hole in the first half and never fully climbed out, falling 34-20 in the CIF NorCal 5-A Regional Bowl Game.

"The bottom line is they were better tonight," Logue said. "I'm really glad we came back and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, that shows me a lot of character, a lot of guts. It's hard to get this far and lose, but what this team accomplished is just amazing and will always be a super bright spot for Bear River football."

Playing on a sloppy gridiron at Fortuna High School, the Bruins (10-4) were the aggressors early, putting up the first six points on a Tre Maronic 68-yard touchdown run. The elusive sophomore took the handoff, broke a tackle, cut back against the flow of the defense and raced into the end zone. Maronic finished with a team-high 105 rushing yards and one score.

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But, things quickly got away from the Bruins as penalties and turnovers continued to put them in tough spots in the second quarter.

"The penalties early really killed us, put us in some bad, bad situations," Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie said. "We kind of lost our heads a little bit… (Fortuna) is a very physical team and things didn't go our way early. We couldn't quite get our traction, and I don't mean the traction on the field, I mean we would go 4 or 5 (yards) then back 15 and that's a hard way to play."

After Fortuna (13-2) knotted the game at 6-6 with a 1-yard touchdown run by J.B. Lewis, the Huskies intercepted a Bruins pass on the ensuing possession and returned it to Bear River's 4-yard line. Two plays later Fortuna's Scott Sederberg punched it in from 3-yards out for a 14-6 edge.

The Huskies would tack on another six points on a 3-yard quarterback keeper by Zac Claus to grab a 20-6 lead.

The Bruins put together a long drive in the waning minutes of the first half but an interception, Bear River's third turnover of the half, halted that drive at Fortuna's 2-yard line.

In the second half, the Huskies continued to pound away on the ground and went up 27-6 on a 36-yard burst up the middle by Lewis. The senior would finish with 110 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries to pace the Huskies.

Trailing by a large margin in the fourth quarter, the Bruins didn't go down without a fight. Maronic blocked a Fortuna punt and teammate Kaden Ahlberg scooped it up and rumbled down to the Huskies' 3-yard line. A play later senior fullback Austin Baze plowed into the end zone to pull the game to within two scores at 27-13.

Baze, playing his final game of his four-year varsity career, finished with 45 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He also had seven tackles on defense.

Fortuna answered with a 10-play, nearly six minute drive capped by a Lewis 11-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach.

Bear River would add another score on a 2-yard Luke Baggett quarterback keeper to pull within 14 at 34-20, but Fortuna recovered the onside kick and ran off the remaining time in the game and the Bruins' season.

The loss concludes an impressive turnaround from a season ago. After finishing 3-7 in 2016, Bear River went 7-3 in the 2017 regular season. The Bruins then knocked off favored foes in three straight playoff games to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V Championship. The third section title in Bear River football history.

"When you consider our league and our schedule, nine of the 10 teams that we played in the regular season made the playoffs this year. That's pretty incredible," Savoie said. "We talk about how the (Pioneer Valley League) is a meat grinder and it is. Our kids somehow survived that, clawed our way into the playoffs and it's just been an unbelievable run and something I think the kids themselves have been amazed by… I think they surpassed their expectations. But, when you get to this point you want more. We wanted to be making a trip to southern California, but it wasn't in the cards tonight."

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

SCORE BY QUARTER

HUSKIES 34, BRUINS 20

FIRST QUARTER

BR: Tre Maronic 68-yard run (kick no good) 4:38

SECOND QUARTER

F: J.B. Lewis 1-yard run (kick no good) 10:17

F: Scott Sederberg 3-yard run (2-point try good) 9:26

F: Zac Claus 3-yard run (2-point try no good) 2:15

THIRD QUARTER

F: Lewis 36-yard run (Lewis kick) 2:03

FOURTH QUARTER

BR: Austin Baze 3-yard run (Alex Bohn kick) 10:01

F: Lewis 11-yard run (Lewis kick) 4:33

BR: Luke Baggett 2-yard run (Bohn kick) 2:03

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