Bear River faces arch rival Colfax
All bets are off when it comes to rivalry games.
Especially when it’s the final game of the regular season, with the Pioneer Valley League championship on the line.
Between two teams who haven’t lost in the PVL.
Between the two defenses with the best statistics in the PVL.
And especially when the all-time series is tied at 9-9.
At 7:30 tonight, Bear River (7-2 overall, 5-0 PVL) plays at Colfax (9-0 overall, 5-0 PVL) in the 19th meeting between the rivals.
“The impact is real simple,” Falcons coach Tony Martello said. “The winner wins our league, and the loser is second.”
Colfax is in the midst of a five-game winning streak against the Bruins, who last beat the Falcons in 2000, 21-7.
Colfax also brings a hefty offensive arsenal, featuring the PVL’s best quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
Six-foot, one-inch senior Alex Rump has thrown for 1,923 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, with only one interception. Mike Fucci has 918 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, and Justin Chastain has caught 42 passes for 874 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Falcons’ offense has produced the most points in the PVL, averaging 37.7 points per game. The Bruins’ defense, which has given up 9.9 points a game, is also the best in the league.
“I wish it could be a defensive game,” Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue said. “But with their offense, I don’t know. I think their lowest point total in nine games is 24.
“I wish it could be a low-scoring game, but if we can hold them around 21 we’ll have a chance.
“Our philosophy has always been to try to make (opponents) work their way down the field, which means no big plays. We can bend but not break.
“With (Colfax), that’s easier said than done.”
On Sept. 22, Colfax beat Union Mine 24-7.
Bear River’s defense took a blow Monday when it found out linebacker Mitchell Militano will likely be out for the rest of the season. Militano’s kidney was ruptured Friday in the Bruins’ 27-7 home win against El Dorado. The extent of the injury, however, was not known until three days later.
“He’s really been coming on,” Logue said. “He had a big interception last Friday. That was definitely bad news.”
Johnny Lascoe and David Richey will attempt to fill the hole, but Logue said neither of them are experienced at the position.
Colfax’s defense, the second best in the league on paper, has allowed opponents 12.1 points per game.
But many of those points have come against the Falcons’ second string, which was responsible for all of Lincoln’s points last week in Colfax’s 51-28 win.
“We’ve got almost 60 kids on the team,” Martello said. “They work their butts off every week. I like to get the kids in. So when we get a lead that is sizable, we put our second string in. Last week against Lincoln, we had the second string in before the half was over.”
The Falcons have won six games this season by 23 or more points, including a 44-0 shutout against Mesa Verde and a 31-0 shutout against Placer. Daniel Houser leads both the Colfax defense and the league with his nine sacks.
But Bear River’s offense hasn’t just squeaked by. During the Bruins’ current six-game winning streak, they have outscored their opponents 188-45.
Senior quarterback C.J. Crausby has led with both his arm and his legs, passing for 799 yards and six touchdowns and running for a team-high 533 yards with another 10 touchdowns.
Axel Wadman and Lars Nielsen, both seniors, are Crausby’s most-used targets. The tight and wide receiver, respectively, have accounted for 745 yards and all six of their quarterback’s touchdowns.
The fact that none of the Bruins have experienced beating their rival hasn’t changed their mindset, according to Logue.
“The fact that they have probably the best team that they’ve had in five years, that has an effect,” Logue said.
In 2002 and 2003, the Falcons were Division III Sac-Joaquin Section champions.
Martello also places little importance on the past. Including last season’s 30-20 win, Colfax has outscored the Bruins 134-60 in the last five meetings.
“I’ve always tried to be a one-game-at-a-time coach,” Martello said. “I couldn’t even tell you the scores of the games three years ago or four years ago. That means zero to me.”
Martello did say that, more often than not, the Bear River-Colfax game decides the league champion.
Last season, the Falcons shared the PVL championship with Bear River and Oakmont, after Bear River beat Oakmont and Oakmont beat Colfax.
With only five returning players from last season’s co-champion team, the Bruins’ success has surprised many, including their own coaches.
“We can only hope that this group continues on its Hollywood-type run,” Logue said. “And maybe we won’t wake up until after the game, or after the season.
“It’s a huge challenge, but this group seems to be rising to the challenges.”
To contact Sports Writer Jeff Miller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4247.
Bear River (7-2) at Colfax (9-0)
Rushing – Bear River, C.J. Crausby 93-533 and 10 TDs, Andy Parquette 87-233 and 5 TDs, Matt Belnap 39-208 and 1 TD. Colfax, Mike Fucci 109-918 and 14 TDs, David Zablotny 62-280 and 2 TDs, Mike Olson 6-105.
Passing – Bear River, C.J. Crausby 46-84-2 for 799 yards and 6 TDs, Drew Loftues 6-18-1 for 86 yards. Colfax, Alex Rump 103-151-1 for 1,923 yards and 24 TDs, Luke Cook 10-24-3 for 102 yards and 2 TDs.
Receiving – Axel Wadman 23-284 and 4 TDs, Lars Nielsen 18-461 and 2 TDs, Matt Belnap 4-16. Colfax, Justin Chastain 42-874 and 10 TDs, Mike Olson 32-720 and 11 TDs, Jon Barbier 9-92 and 1 TD.
Directions – Take Highway 174 to Colfax. Turn right on Main Street just before the railroad bridge (also marked for Historic Colfax). At the second stop sign, turn right on Grass Valley Raod and continue to stop sign at Rising Sun Road. Turn left on Rising Sun and continue to the stop sign. Turn right on Ben Taylor Road. Colfax High School is the second school on the left.
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