SEASON PREVIEW: Hungry Bruins ready to kickoff 2018 season | TheUnion.com

SEASON PREVIEW: Hungry Bruins ready to kickoff 2018 season

Brian Shepard
Special To The Union

The Bear River football team has won Sac-Joaquin Section championships twice in the last four seasons, and the roar of the Bruins remains strong. This year's crop of gridders are hungry and focused as they gear up for the start of the season.

In 2017, the Bruins went 10-4 overall and reclaimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V crown. After reaching the playoffs with an overtime win over Center in the last week of the regular season, Bear River knocked off playoff teams Capital Christian, and Ripon before topping rival Colfax in the title game to earn their third section championship in school history.

This year, Bear River's talented 23-man roster looks to silence any doubters and deliver as it has done so many times before. But of course, it wouldn't be Bruins football if there weren't a few unexpected twists along the way.

SMALL, BUT TALENTED

"We're like the Marines, the few and the proud," said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue, who boasts 231 career wins since starting with the program in 1987. "It's funny because some of our starters are used to, when the other kids get to go in, they're used to being able to stand around and do nothing, but everybody has to go every down. They're going to be in shape. The other side of that coin is the second and third team guys are getting a lot more reps whether it's offense or defense."

QB OPTIONS

Recommended Stories For You

Last season, the Bruins averaged 112 yards passing per game led by senior quarterback Luke Baggett, as the team hauled in 14 touchdowns through the air. 

Taking the snaps this year for the Bruins will be senior Calder Kunde, who got some reps last season passing 14-for-20 for 130 yards with two touchdowns.

Also sharing some of the quarterback responsibility will be junior Tre Maronic, who was 2-for-2 for 48 yards and a touchdown last season. Maronic, however, will be starting at halfback, looking to give the Bruins a boost in the running game.

"I think our summer overall was a success," said co-head coach and newly appointed Bear River Athletic Director Scott Savoie. "I thought we had pretty good buy in from the kids, and they did really well in the 7-on-7 competitions. We had some here and we had a little tournament up at Foothill High School in June and we won that tournament."

COACHING CHANGE-UP

For the first time in 14 years, Logue will be taking over as the team's offensive coordinator. The change comes as much needed assist to Savoie, who has a lot more than just X's and O's on his agenda this year as Bear River's AD.

"I definitely didn't feel like coordinating was in the cards for me this year," said Savoie, who will be juggling coaching with his new role as athletic director. "I'm going to be spread thin here with doing all the things. Coach Logue is calling the offense which is something he really enjoys doing and hasn't done in a long time. Last time he did it was I think 2004…We decided that Tanner Mathias is going to be our defensive coordinator. He's our defensive back coach as well. So I am working with the offensive line, which is what I like to do."

STRONG UP FRONT

Through the trenches Bear River rushed for 2,565 yards in 2017, led by then senior fullback Austin Baze. As a squad, the Bruins averaged 183 yards per game and plowed in for 32 touchdowns. While Bear River graduated several running backs from last season, much of the offensive line is back.

"We really graduated one full time starter on the offensive line last year, actually two," added Savoie. "The returnees, the guys that played a bunch, Jonny Carrillo started every game for us at quick tackle. Zane Beaton played a lot at the strong tackle. Trae Nix started every game for us at center. He's back. Sam Davis started one game, but he played in a ton of games at quick guard. Towards the end of the year we got Jared Baze back, and he was starting for us at strong guard. We got all those guys back. We're talking about a group that didn't give up a sack till like game seven last year. We had a pretty good front. At this point in time last year the offensive line was a big question mark."

CARRYING THE ROCK

Behind Bear River's front line will be Maronic trying to find the seams. He finished with 66 carries for 416 yards and one rushing touchdown last season. Maronic also proved to be a talented pass catcher out of the backfield.

Kunde offers a dual-threat at quarterback with the ability to run as well. He took 29 carries for 222 yards and scored two touchdowns out of the backfield last season.

At full back, the Bruins have a few options with seniors Austin Slining and Hunter Daniels, and junior Zach Fink.

Backing up the quarterback position will be junior Colton Jenkins.

NEW ASSIGNMENTS

The Bruins had a few good options at wide receiver last season and they all kept opponents on their toes.

Kunde led the team with 30 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns He was followed by Moronic with 24 catches for 418 yards and six touchdowns.

Senior Dylan Bergez-Scott is poised to have a breakout season this year, following a junior season in which he had 17 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown.

"(Dylan Bergez-Scott), really good receiver is back," said Logue. "We have to break in a new tight end. We're looking at (Josiah) Cregar and (Logan) Jenkins and those two guys are doing a good job there. Clayton Anderson is doing a real good job at the wing back position. Maronic came on the last four, five games last year and put it in another gear so we're excited to have him be our two-back, which is kind of our feature back. Our full back is our smash guy, (Hunter) Daniels and Austin Slinging. But the key is Maronic gives us a legitimate outside threat. In the section title game he was able get outside on Colfax."

DEFINING DEFENSE

Bear River's ability to shut down opponents and create turnovers has been a defining characteristic over the past several years. That trend needs to continue if the Bruins hope to hoist up another banner.

Defensively, Bear River stood tall and brought a relentless pressure all season long in 2017, tallying 21 sacks and giving up 18.2 points per game. It's secondary nabbed 13 interceptions while the defense pounced on 11 fumble recoveries. 

Graduated senior Travis Carpenter led the team with 127 tackles last year from his middle linebacker position. Filling in his shoes is senior Daniels.

"The team looks pretty strong this year offense and defensive-wise," said Daniels. "Coaches changed it up offensively… Having us running a little bit different but I'm pretty excited for kickoff of the first game. It's going to be a fun one. Just take it one game at a time, but looking forward to Colfax this year. See what we get done down there. That was a good game last year, can't wait to do the same thing this year."

Also looking to plug up the middle and get after the quarterback will be Davis, who wrapped up six sacks last season and Nix, who added a pair of his own. Holding down the fort in the defensive backfield last season, Kunde grabbed four interceptions and Moronic had two.

"I feel I am pretty athletic," said Kunde. "I can definitely play any position, especially on defense… You're not going to throw it to my side because they're not going to catch it."

NEW LEAGUE

Bear River reached a new plateau for its program in 2017 by making the school's first ever trip to the NorCal regional state championship bowl game. This season that opportunity is up for grabs once again, although the playoff picture looks a little different.

"Call it the FL, the Fair League," explained Logue. "For us and Colfax it levels the playing field to win a league title. Both of us literally had a better chance of winning a section title than a league title."

With the section shaking things up this season with league realignment, the Bruins will no longer have to face schools such as Placer and Lincoln, which have more than twice Bear River's enrollment.

"We're really excited about it," added Logue. "Colfax is going to be tough and Center is going to be tough, and Marysville has a good program. Foothill has athletes. We beat them 14-13 last year. People forget that. I'm excited about the new league. There's nobody that's three times our size."

With Placer and Lincoln out, now part of the Foothill Valley League, the PVL welcomes in Lindhurst and Marysville to join Bear River, Center, Colfax and Foothill.

The Division V playoff bracket will also be expanding from eight teams to 12 this season, where the top four seeds receive a first-round bye. A minumum of two league wins is no longer required, however, the CIF selection committee will consider a wide range of factors.

"We just need to keep getting better," added Savoie. "We've got some good players. We're going to have to fight and scratch like we always do."

OPENING ON THE ROAD

The Bruins are Tahoe-bound in their season opener, taking on the Vikings from South Tahoe High School at 7:30 p.m., tonight.

"I'm excited about this first game up at South Lake Tahoe," said Logue. "We don't know hardly anything about them. It's like we're going on a wilderness trip and we'll see what happens you know. We looked forever to find a zero week game and most schools our size don't want to play us and we don't want to play a school with 2,500 so we finally found them. They were looking for a game and that's going to be a good opener for us, a fun trip up to Tahoe. We'll stop have dinner there before the game. It's going to be a good experience for the kids and it'll be nice to get a W as well."

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.

AT A GLANCE

Team: Bear River Bruins

Head coach: Terry Logue, Scott Savoie

League: Pioneer Valley League

PVL teams: Bear River Bruins, Center Cougars, Colfax Falcons, Foothill Mustangs, Lindhurst Blazers, Marysville Indians

2017 record: 10-4, 2-3 (PVL)

Top returning rusher: Tredan Maronic – 416 yards, 1 TD

Top returning passer: Calder Kunde — 14-for-20, 130 yards, 2 TDs

Top returning receiver: Calder Kunde – 30 catches, 484 yards, 3 TDs

Top returning tackler: Sam Davis – 79 tackles, 6 sacks

Key returners: Calder Kunde (QB, WR, CB) Tredan Maronic (RB, QB, CB), Dylan Bergez-Scott (WR, CB), Trae Nix (OL, DL), Sam Davis (OL, DL), Jared Baze (OL, DL), Jonny Carrillo (OL, DL), Logan Jenkins (TE, LB), Hunter Daniels (FB, LB), Zane Beaton (OL, DL)

Coaching staff: Terry Logue (Co-head coach), Scott Savoie (Co-head coach), Dean Sweeney (Asst. coach), Damon Turner (Asst. coach), Chad Quirarte (Asst. coach), Tanner Mathias (Asst. coach), Todd Ahlberg (Asst. coach)

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.