Bear River hopes to climb back into playoff hunt today
Just as it seemed the Pioneer Valley League’s playoff picture was coming into focus, last Friday night breathed life back into the postseason hopes for more than half the teams hitting the field in the conference.
Only two teams will emerge from the PVL slate with a spot in the Division IV playoffs, but which two kick off in the section tournament still needs to be settled over the final three weeks of the season.
Standing in fifth place with a 1-2 league record, Bear River has the highest climb back into contention among the teams who have yet to be eliminated from the fight for the league’s two playoff berths.
But if Bear River (4-2-1 overall) is to keep hope alive beyond tonight, the Bruins must take care of business against Lincoln (5-2 overall, 3-0 PVL), the team currently holding the top spot in the league. The Zebras moved into sole possession of first place last week when Whitney (6-1, 3-1) lost to El Dorado, 19-13.
“There’s zero margin for error now,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “We knew before that there was still a slim chance for us (to make the playoffs), but a couple of upsets last week mean we still have a chance. Actually, if we win all three of our games, we might be have a very good chance.
“But we’re playing the only undefeated team in the league, and we’ve got to win. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.”
Lincoln is led on both sides of the ball by 5-foot, 8-inch, 160-pound junior halfback Rex Sievers, who has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and totaled seven touchdowns this fall. He also leads the team with 38 tackles from his defensive back position.
Statistically speaking, it’s been the improved play of the Lincoln defense that has played a key role in the Zebras’ run. After opening with back-to-back losses to Sutter and Wheatland that saw Lincoln allow a total of 74 points, the Zebras have rolled off five straight wins. During the streak, Lincoln has allowed more than 10 points on just one occasion – a 26-23 nonleague win over Lindhurst.
Bear River has been led on the ground by three backs combining for more than 1,000 yards. Matt Belnap leads the way with 475 yards and three touchdowns, while Andy Parquette has 11 touchdowns and 357 yards. Cristopher Parfitt has rushed for 393 yards in four games since returning from injury.
Drew Loftus has completed 43 of 86 passes for 779 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target has been Garrett Barbic, who has hauled in 30 catches for 525 yards.
Defensively, John Kammerer leads the Bruins with 88 tackles, while Tommy Jones is tops in sacks with 10.
Bear River’s 35-14 win over Mesa Verde last week was the Bruins’ first victory since a 9-7 win over Woodcreek on Sept. 21. After a tie and back-to-back league losses, the Bruins were glad to be back to their winning ways.
“We had two losses in a row and had not won in three weeks, which doesn’t happen a lot at Bear River,” said Logue. “So it was nice to get back on track, but you also have to keep it in perspective with Mesa (Verde) not being one of the top teams in the league.
“As far as getting some confidence back, though, it was definitely a good game to get things going.”
Right behind Lincoln and Whitney in the PVL standings are Colfax and Placer, with each owning a 2-1 league mark. Only one of those two will still have just one loss on the season Saturday morning as Colfax travels to Placer tonight.
Of the top five teams in the league, Lincoln looks to still have the toughest road to the title. After tonight’s tilt at Bear River, the Zebras travel to Colfax and host Whitney in the final two weeks.
And, considering the parity the PVL has seen so far this season – exemplified in Whitney’s loss to sixth-place El Dorado (3-4, 1-3) – there’s still plenty of football to play before the playoff bracket is filled out.
Though he knows the league is strong, Logue said he was surprised by the upset that shook up the standings.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “On paper, El Dorado is out of it at 0-3 in league. And Whitney is undefeated at 3-0. But it was up there (in Placerville) and rainy and muddy.
“If one team gets a little overconfident in high school football and the other team gets a couple of breaks, you just never know.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Playing through a pandemic: A look back at highlights from a unique and jam-packed prep sports spring season
One of the more unique and trying high school sports seasons is finally in the books.