Bear River faces threat in Mesa Verde
The Bear River football team will face its first real test in the Pioneer Valley League when Mesa Verde of Citrus Heights comes to town Friday.
The Bruins (5-1 overall, 3-0 PVL), who enter the game tied with Colfax for the league’s top spot, will face a hot Maverick squad.
Mesa Verde (5-1, 2-0), which won Sac-Joaquin Section Division III titles in 1998 and 1999, have put an average of 36.5 points on the board in league wins over Sacramento’s Johnson West and Mira Loma.
“We’re looking at this game as the most important we’ve played so far this season. A win and your in the driver’s seat (for a playoff spot). So, if we want to control our destiny, we’re going to have to win this game,” Bruin head coach Scott Savoie said.
The Bruin defense, which allows a league-low 11.3 points per game, will have to corral a potent Maverick running game and its 280.7 yards per game average.
“They can pass, but they’re a predominantly a running team,” Savoie said. “They bring a little more speed than we’ve seen for a while. Del Oro was probably the fastest team we’ve seen all year, and I think these guys are faster.”
The Mavericks’ Nick Fisher (5-foot-7, 170 pounds), who is second in the league in rushing yards behind Bear River’s Cody Yeager, has totaled 566 yards on 40 carries with two touchdowns.
The Mavericks also like to put the ball in Wes Wooten’s hands.
The 5-foot, 7-inch. 160-pounder has scored a team-high eight touchdowns and is second in rushing with 389 yards on 48 carries.
While Fisher and Wooten have the numbers, Savoie said halfback DeAngelo Wilson (5-11, 173) is Mesa Verde’s biggest threat.
“They’re real, real fast in the backfield. They’ve got (three) guys in the backfield that just flat out fly. (Wilson) missed a few games because of injury, but we still think he’s their best back,” Savoie added.
The Mavericks don’t air it out too often, but when they do, Matt Parks (6-1, 170) is their man.
The junior quarterback, who threw for 100 yards in Mesa Verde’s 30-20 first round playoff loss to eventual Sac-Joaquin Section Division III runner up Escalon last season, has thrown for 336 yards on 22-of-62 passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
“He looks like he knows what he’s doing out there,” Savoie said. “They’re going test you deep. They’re going to make sure you can run with their wideouts, then try to get out on the perimeter.”
Defensively, Mesa Verde makes things happen.
The Mavericks, who have allowed 12.5 points a game, have tallied 17 sacks and eight interceptions this season.
Junior linebacker Ken Ackerman (6-2, 220) is tied for the league lead in tackles with 68.
Defensive end Derek Smith (6-0, 185) leads the team in sacks with four. Safety Kevin Jordan (5-11, 170) has a team-high three interceptions.
With consecutive blowout wins over Mira Loma and Johnson West in the rear-view mirror, Savoie said his team is looking forward to a challenge.
“The last two weeks have been nice because we could play everybody, but this is one of those games that get your blood pumping,” Savoie said.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
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