PREP FOOTBALL: What to know about the Miners and Bruins ahead of 2018 season
July 26, 2018
The high school football season is nearing and soon the sound of pads popping and crowds roaring will fill stadiums near and far.
The Sac-Joaquin Section's football dead period came to a close Monday and, as of today, high school teams will have less than a month to prepare for the 2018 season.
As the countdown to kickoff continues we take a look at some of the things Nevada Union and Bear River football fans should know ahead of this season.
The highly-successful head coaching duo of Scott Savoie and Terry Logue are back once again to lead the Bruins. Savoie and Logue are coming off a championship season, their second in the last four years, and will be leading a team of about 23 players over at Bear River.
Despite the small number of players, the coaches say they are big in talent.
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"I'm excited because we have a lot of kids back that were a big part of our success last year," said Logue. "We have a really solid nucleus of kids returning. They have really good attitudes and they're working really hard."
Logue, who first started coaching at Bear River in 1987 and has been co-head coaching with Savoie since 2004, is widely known for his defensive acumen, but will be taking on a role he hasn't had since the 2000s. Logue will be the offensive playcaller this season, something he's very much looking forward to doing.
"I'm pretty excited about it," he said. "There's nothing quite as fun as calling plays. I'm looking forward to it."
NEW MAN IN CHARGE
Nevada Union's new head coach Brad Sparks has been charged with turning around a program that hasn't made the playoffs since 2012. Sparks, an energetic and experienced coach, said he hates to lose and plans to build a winning program the community can be proud of.
"Our motto is any team anytime any place," he said. "We're hungry. I love the (team's) mind set, I love where these kids are going and I love the track that we're on."
Sparks retained several coaches from last year's staff, but also added a few new coaches including longtime Lincoln of Stockton and Franklin of Elk Grove coach Jim Rubiales to be the defensive coordinator.
"The defense that we're running, that Jim Rubiales put in, has really changed the dynamic of what NU football is. NU has been that bend but don't break defense. The defense we're running will be pretty aggressive."
The Miners and Bruins both graduated senior quarterbacks and will have new signal callers under center this season.
Parker Heilaman takes the reins for the Miners. The 6-foot, 1-inch senior saw action in a couple games last season, but never attempted a pass. Sparks said Heilaman has impressed during summer workouts and expects good things from the first-time varsity starter.
"He's really come a long way," Sparks said. "He's doing all the right things right now and we're excited about how he's developing."
The Bruins have a pair of players in senior Calder Kunde and junior Tre Maronic who will likely both see time under center. Both Kunde and Maronic were key in Bear River's championship run last season. Kunde was a big play threat at receiver and Maronic offered the same explosiveness from the running back position.
"It's no surprise that Calder Kunde is doing some unbelievably athletic things out there," said Savoie. "Beyond that, I've been impressed with the way he's embraced a leadership role.
"It's also no surprise that Tre Maronic had a great summer and is looking really good."
Both Maronic and Kunde do have some experience at the quarterback position. Kunde filled in at quarterback for two games last season, going 14-for-20 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Maronic was the starting quarterback for the junior varsity Bruins in 2016, his freshman season.
"I think you'll see a dose of both Calder Kunde and Tre Maronic at quarterback," said Savoie. "They both bring to the table some pretty impressive attributes."
FAY'S SENIOR SEASON
Nevada Union senior running back Dawson Fay returns to the Miners' backfield after a stellar junior season in which he rushed for a league best 1,173 yards. Fay is an explosive back who has a nose for the endzone. Since joining the varsity squad as a sophomore, Fay has tallied 24 touchdowns (20 rushing, two kickoff returns, two passing) in 20 games played. The talented back has proven he has the ability to take over a game, notching a pair of 200-yard games a season ago, including a 277 yard, four touchdown performance against Woodcreek.
The Miners finally get out of the brutal Sierra Foothill League and move into the newly formed Foothill Valley League. Joining Nevada Union in the FVL will be Placer, Lincoln, Oakmont, Ponderosa and Rio Linda. The change of league is a better fit for Nevada Union as far as level of competition and school enrollment size, but will still present plenty of challenges for the Miners, who are coming off a 2-8 season. Of Nevada Union's five new league foes, three made the playoffs last season (Placer, Lincoln, Rio Linda) and four posted records .500 or better (Placer, Lincoln, Rio Linda, Oakmont).
"I think they have us in the appropriate league now," said Sparks. "The past five years, with our record playing Placer and Lincoln, really show that's where we belong."
Nevada Union is happy to bid farewell to the SFL, a place they won just five games since 2010.
The Bruins remain in the Pioneer Valley League, but the league has been restructured with 2017 PVL champ Placer and Lincoln both joining NU in the FVL. The PVL retains the likes of Bear River, Colfax, Center and Foothill, and will be welcoming Marysville and Lindhurst into the mix.
"It's been a long time coming." said Logue, citing the enrollment disparity between schools within the league. "I'm excited about that… I think its going to be good."
Despite the top two teams from last season heading to the FVL, the PVL will still boast three teams (Bear River, Colfax, Center) that went deep into the playoffs in 2017.
Nevada Union will be hosting its annual Meet Your Miners Blue and Gold Game at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at Hooper Stadium.
On Aug. 11, The Miners and Bruins will clash in their annual preseason scrimmage. This year the event gets going at 9 a.m. and will be held at Hooper Stadium.
The first game of the season, also known as Week 0, will be Aug. 17 and both the Miners and Bruins will be on the road. Bear River opens at South Tahoe. Nevada Union heads to Yuba City to face the Honkers.
Bear River will host its first home game Aug. 24 against El Dorado. The Miners' home opener also comes Aug. 24 when they face off with Spanish Springs out of Sparks, Nevada.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.