PREP FOOTBALL: Reasons to get excited about Bear River football in 2017 | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Reasons to get excited about Bear River football in 2017

Bear River football has a long and proud history of winning.

Since the school opened in 1986, the Bruins varsity team has made the playoffs 24 times, tallied two section championships and posted a sub .500 record only twice in school history.

Unfortunately, one of those two seasons came in 2016 when the Bruins went 3-7 and missed the playoffs after winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship in 2014 and reaching the title game in 2015.

Getting back to their winning ways is the focus this season.

"Something new for us is we are coming off a down year," said co-head coach Terry Logue. "First time in 26-27 years since we had a bad season, so that's our focus. We need to re-commit ourselves as coaches and players to getting back on the winning path."

The Bruins have been hard at work during the summer doing just that, competing in a non-contact 7-on-7 camp which also featured a lineman challenge at El Dorado High School as well several other 7-on-7 matchups with teams from Mesa Verde and Nevada Union.

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Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie said he likes what he's seen from his players during the summer months.

"Kids are working hard and buying in," he said. "That's important stuff."

With the season inching closer (first game is Aug. 25 vs. Orland) here are some reasons to get excited about Bear River football:

CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER

A losing season is a rarity for the Bruins. They know it, and they are working hard to make sure it doesn't happen again in 2017.

"Nobody was happy with the outcome of last season," said Savoie. "I think the kids feel like they have something to prove. I think they are attacking things with a chip on their shoulder and I like that."

The Bruins open the season at home against Orland, then take on Union Mine, Pershing County (Nevada), Marysville and El Dorado before league play kicks off against Lincoln Oct. 6. Getting off to a good start in non-league will go along way in the Bruins efforts to regain their winning form.

BRUIN BACKFIELD

The Bruins like to run the ball, and when they are healthy they can dominate with their ground game. Injuries hampered Bear River's ground game a season ago, but they have a bevy of backs ready to roar this season. The Bruins return running backs Austin Baze, Stephen Taylor, Calder Kunde and Josh Zimmer this season.

Baze, a bruising back, led the Bruins in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns before being sidelined halfway through the season with a shoulder injury in 2016. Savoie said Baze is still recovering but expects to have him suited up and playing within the first three weeks of the season.

"We're very excited for him. When he gets cleared from his shoulder thing, he's going to have an awesome senior season," said Savoie. "We want to make sure he is 100 percent, absolutely ready to go. We don't want anymore injuries this year."

Taylor was second on the team in rushing yards and ground touchdowns and is also a strong receiver with a team-best 22 catches for 343 yards and six touchdowns a season ago.

Making the ground game go will be standout offensive lineman Travis Carpenter, Kaden Ahlberg, Josue Hurtado and tight end Cameron Pratt, who have all impressed during the summer workouts.

NEW SIGNAL CALLER

Senior Luke Baggett has been tabbed to take over at quarterback for Bear River this season. As a junior Baggett was a standout on the defensive end with a team-best 95 tackles from his defensive back position. He did play some receiver and caught four passes during the season, but now he will be taking on a much larger role on the offensive end.

So far, Baggett has drawn high praise from his coaches.

"We have a new quarterback we're excited about in Luke Baggett," said Logue. "He's putting in a lot of time and effort and really working hard."

Even though Baggett did not play quarterback as a junior, he has played quarterback at lower levels, said Savoie.

"Luke Baggett is doing a great job," said Savoie. "He's moving to quarterback this year and he's really coming on. I think you will see some good things from Luke this season."

BACK FOR MORE

Logue and Savoie will once again be roaming the sidelines for the Bruins. Logue took over the program in 1987 and coached Bear River until 2002, when he took a two-year break to coach at Sierra College. Savoie took over when Logue left, then welcomed him back in 2004 and the two have been co-head coaches ever since.

The two form a dynamic coaching duo that has brought a stability to the program that very few other schools have.

Logue, who has 221 wins as a high school coach, is battling Parkinson's disease but said he will keep coaching as long as he's able.

"Without a doubt it's simply a love for the game and what it represents. The challenges and trying to get young men going on the right track," Logue said of his motivation. "I literally go day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year in hopes that I can keep doing it. I'm definitely near the end, there's no doubt about that, but I love the game and I love what it represents, especially in high school. But, obviously there comes a time when you can't do it anymore and my disease is making it harder for me."

Logue will go for his 222nd career victory when Bear River opens the season against Orland.

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