Bear River hits the road to El Dorado
El Dorado is not Marysville — even though the two school’s football teams have eerie similarities.
Bear River knows Marysville well, after shocking the then-3-0 Bruins with a 21-point tie in what was considered a huge upset at the time.
El Dorado pulled the same feat two weeks ago, defeating Pioneer Valley League leader Whitney (3-1) 19-13 in what is now arguably the biggest upset of the season.
Tonight, the two teams match up for what is considered as a doormat game for the Bruins as they take a closer step toward Colfax and a possible bid for the section playoffs. But coaches and players warn that El Dorado poses just as big a threat as Whitney or Colfax and can not be seen as glance-over competition for this away game.
“The pressure is building,” said junior tight end Clint White. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
That would be putting up 30-plus points for the last two games, including a 39-8 stomping against Lincoln last week. But the Cougars have a third dimension of worries for Bear River.
“They’ve got a different game at home,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie of playing in Placerville. “They’re much tougher at home and I think they’re a talented team.”
Savoie recalled the last time the Bruins played the Cougars at home in 1998.
“We had to fight from being upset,” he said. “We had to rally from behind in the second half. So I’m very concerned with their home atmosphere on top of the fact they have some great athletes.”
The Cougars feature the PVL’s league leading pass offense with quarterback Jared Gavard, who has thrown for 1,291 yards on the year and 13 touchdowns. His favorite target is a big, fast wide receiver named Trevor Peterson who has 50 catches for 726 yards and five scores.
The two mirror the connection Bear River quarterback Drew Loftus and wide receiver Garrett Barbic have had this year. The duo have accounted for nearly one fourth of the Bruin offense, with Loftus tossing 919 yards and Barbic grabbing 625 of them.
“They’re a very proficient passing team,” Savoie said. “Defensively, they seem to pursue very well and they tackle very well. Size-wise, they’re not really big, like us.”
The Bruins will be without shifty running back Chris Parfitt, who has had injury troubles all year with his shoulder. He is the only Bruin that will not suit up.
Matt Belnap and Jason Varni will pick up the load in his absence.
Belnap leads the Bruins with 513 yards on the season and is second to Parfitt in yards per carry with 8.14.
Varni is a bigger alternative for the Bruins at 6-feet-1-inches, 181 pounds. Bear River will miss out on Parfitt’s quickness but they have more than a few substitutes as well as fullbacks Andy Parquette, Brandon Vallero and Gary Schmidt who can rotate in at various positions.
El Dorado will feature multiple formations in a spread and ace offense. Their multiple fronts and dynamic passing game give a clear focus for the Bruins defense.
“If we can get pressure on the line then we can win,” said defensive tackle Tyler Caster. “If they get too many passing yards (we’ll have to switch our defense).”
Regardless of what El Dorado does, the onus is on the Bruins to handle their own business.
“We felt like last Friday was our best outing to date,” Savoie said of the Lincoln victory. “Winning isn’t everything but playing well is.”
But with the Colfax a week out and the playoffs within reach, surely the Bruins’ minds are trailing to the coming weeks.
“It’s that old cliché: one at a time. We really believe that here,” Savoie said. “The target is on El Dorado. It isn’t anywhere else. If we win out, we’re probably in the playoffs. But if we don’t win against El Dorado, the Colfax game doesn’t have near the amount meaning.”
To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.