Air River? Bruins’ QB ignites offense with two-minute drill
Michael Fredrickson’s first varsity start under center wasn’t going so swell through the first 22 minutes of action Friday night at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
Bear River’s senior quarterback struggled through his first five throws of the season, completing just one for 12 yards against the visiting Center Cougars’ defense.
Then, though, the Bruins threw things into high gear with their two-minute offense just before halftime and Fredrickson found his rhythm – and his receivers – to spark a 35-12 season-opening win.
“We’re basically a running team, so when we can pop a pass on them they’re not going to be ready for it,” said Fredrickson, who completed his final seven passes of the night for an 8-for-12 outing that racked up 136 yards through the air.
What got things rolling was a 34-yard connection with Bruin senior Anthony Welz that brought Bear River to the Center 35-yard line with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter. One snap later, Fredrickson found junior Robbie Frank on the left side for a 28-yard pick up and then two plays later lobbed a fade pattern to the right corner of the end zone.
That’s when senior wideout Kyle Reid lept up and reached back over Center defensive back Matthew Magallanes to snare the spiral for a 13-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead, after Fredrickson hit junior David Wheeler for the two-point conversion pass.
“Michael did a great job,” said Bear River head coach Scott Savoie, whose Bruins beat Center (Antelope) for the ninth-straight time, “and we had a great catch there by Welz and Reid had a great catch too. Sometimes, you just have to put it up and make a big play.
“I still think, though, it was that punt block that got us going.”
The block he was referring to was a swat by Welz, as Center set up to punt from its own 30-yard line on fourth-and-15 with 11:14 to go in the second quarter. After a first-quarter stalemate, the special teams play landed the ball at Center’s 4-yard line, where Kevin Grimes recovered for the Bruins.
Two plays later, Bruin senior fullback Brock Boyle spun off the back of his right tackle, junior Evan Jensen, for a 1-yard score. Fredrickson’s point-after kick was wide left, but the Bruins led 6-0.
Cougar senior Nicholas Keach then provided a special teams highlight of his own, returning the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. But an illegal block brought the ball back to the Bear River 38-yard line and the Cougars went three plays and punt.
Center knotted things at 6-6 with 2:12 to go in the first half, as Cougar sophomore quarterback Jason Oleson hooked up with senior back Mark Petersen on an out pattern to the left side for a 27-yard touchdown. The score capped four straight runs for 28 yards by Center senior workhorse Anthony Plowden, who had a game-high 147 yards on 32 carries in the contest.
But the Cougar wouldn’t be heard from again until late in the game, thanks largely to the play of Bear River’s defense. Boyle led the way with 14 tackles on the night from his linebacker position, while junior Landon Savoie, another linebacker, racked up 10 stops, including three quarterback sacks.
“(Defensive linemen) Alex Wolosz, Keagan Robison, Donnie Militano and David Hudson – all those guys did a great job, they did some great slants that allowed me to get back there,” said Landon Savoie, the head coach’s son. “And they were great calls by the coaches, of course.”
Bear River took command early in the second half, as Fredrickson found Welz for a 37-yard strike down the right sideline. Add on a 15-yard face mask penalty and the Bruins were set up at the Cougar 18, where Boyle broke loose for a touchdown on the next play for a 21-6 count, after the PAT, with 11 minutes to go in the third quarter.
Bear River added another score late in the quarter, as Wheeler took a handoff inside to the left and then bounced it back outside to the right for a 48-yard touchdown run and a 28-6 lead with 21 ticks to go in the period.
Wheeler led Bear River’s rushing attack with 86 yards on 13 carries, while Boyle added another 50 yards on 16 totes, as Bear River was as balanced as it gets on offense, rushing for 136 yards and throwing for 136 more.
Welz wound up with 99 receiving yards on five catches for the Bruins.
Center added its final score of the night with 6:40 to go in the game, as Keach capped a five-play, 38-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown. Bear River closed out the scoring four minutes later, when junior Kyle Miller scored from four yards out with 2:35 to go.
“They were big and physical up front,” said Scott Savoie. “We were reeling on offense and had a hard time getting into a groove. From tackle to tackle, we were struggling at times.
“But we took advantage of some things we saw, some man-to-man and single coverage. Michael did a great job of reading that. I just think that was a very, very good football team we just beat.”
Bear River is back in action Friday, traveling to Woodcreek for a non-league matchup.
Bear River’s junior varsity team collected head coach Duane Zauner’s 130th career win Friday night, as the Bruins shut out Center 26-0.
“It was a great team win,” said Zauner, in his 18th season as Bear River’s JV coach. “We only had 20 guys out there in uniform and they did a great job of just sticking it out.”
David Richey led the way with 73 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with scores from 16 and 11 yards out. Travis Heard had 41 rushing yards, while quarterback C.J. Crausby threw for 89 yards and two touchdowns. One of the passes was to Ryan Polisso for a 35-yard scoring strike and the other to Lars Nielson for a 13-yard touchdown.
Axel Wadman had 15 tackles, including 10 solo stops, while Mitchell Militano had seven tackles. Polisso also picked off a pass on defense for the Bruins.
Bear River 35, Center 12
Center (0-1) 0 6 0 6 – 12
Bear River (1-0) 0 14 14 7 – 35
BR – Brock Boyle 1 run (Kick failed), 9:08
C – Mark Petersen 27 pass from Jason Oleson (Kick blocked), 2:12
BR – Kyle Reid 13 pass from Michael Fredrickson (David Wheeler pass from Fredrickson), :12
BR – Boyle 18 run (Fredrickson kick), 11:00
BR – Wheeler 48 run (Fredrickson kick), :21
C – Nicholas Keach 1 run (Pass failed), 6:40
BR – Kyle Miller 4 run (Fredrickson kick), 2:35
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yards 43-127 38-136
Passing yards 166 136
Comp.-Att.-Int. 12-25-0 8-12-0
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 4-1
Penalties-yards 5-45 3-35
RUSHING – Center: Anthony Plowden 32-147, Oleson 6-(minus) 29, Stephen Lamb 3-3, Nicholas Keach 2-6. Bear River: Wheeler 13-86, Boyle 16-50, Kevin Grimes 4-(minus) 2, Lance Welch 3-(minus) 1, David Lavelle 1-(minus) 1, Miller 1-4.
PASSING – Center: Oleson 12-25-0 166. Bear River: Fredrickson 8-12-0 136.
RECEIVING – Center: Shane Daniel 5-56, Petersen 1-29, Robert Georges 2-25, Lamb 1-29, Plowden 1-0, Andy Plautz 1-12, Nathaniel Moore 1-15. Bear River: Anthony Welz 5-99, Robbie Frank 1-20, Reid 2-17.
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Despite high winds with numerous heat race cancellations on Saturday, the Reno STIHL National Championship Air Races concluded five days of racing on Sunday with the following Gold Championships in six of its seven classes