Bruin up some hits |

Bruin up some hits

James Cline is 16 years old, but with only a learner’s permit in his possession the Bear River High School junior can’t legally drive solo on the highways and byways of Northern California.

“But,” Cline said, “I can go out and drive into people.”

Not to worry fellow Nevada County motorists, however, Cline plans only to wreak havoc on other drivers within the safe confines of the Nevada County Fairgrounds arena.

He’ll plans to be driving in the annual Demolition Derby on Sunday, Aug. 10.

Though the first official practice for the fall football season still remains two weeks away, Cline and a few fellow Bear River Bruins have pulled together as team to get into some pre-camp, hard-hitting action.

It’s the first time any of the Bruins have entered a demo derby, but after they’ve spent the past six weeks or so preparing their freshly painted ride, they feel like they’ve got a winner.

And winning is nothing new to this crew.

Bear River football fans have watched the incoming junior class dominate at every level of their high school action. As freshmen, this group of Bruins not only went undefeated but only allowed six points – a single touchdown – the entire season.

Last year was another perfect campaign at the junior varsity level, bringing their high school playing days to a squeaky clean 20-0 record.

“Our team is ultra close,” said Garret Davis, an offensive tackle.

“It’s all about the running back,” added Colby Angus, an outside linebacker who just so happens to also be a running back.

“We’ve played together so long,” Cline said, “that we’ve just bonded.”

Five teammates have tinkered and tooled with their 1983 Oldsmobile Tornado ever since they picked it up from Nick Whittlesey’s salvage yard in North San Juan.

But being first-timers in decking a car out for the derby, they’ve had some help.

“My dad had done it before,” said Kevin Botsford, a nose guard with the Bruins, “growing up in Southern California, he ran figure eights. But none of us have done this.”

The work has been substantial, removing any sign of glass and anything flammable in the car. Next was adding steel reinforcement inside the vehicle, before removing the stock gas tank that was replaced by a 5-gallon Jeep gas can sitting where the back seat used to be.

Handling the welding and electrical work were Jeff and Morris Baumgartner, who are friends of the Cline family.

“Jeff had done this before and so had Morris,” Cline said. “They’ve run a car (in the derby), so it was great they came up to help.”

Each day for the past several weeks, the Bruins left summer training sessions in south county to work on the car parked on the property of Cline’s grandfather, John Engelhardt, off Allison Ranch Road.

On Thursday afternoon, Cline and company were putting the final touches on the car with a few fresh layers of spray paint, which included a Bruin paw print on the hood and their driver’s playing number “58” in red, black and white on each door.

In addition to the Bruins on hand, another of their Bear River teammates, senior defensive tackle Manuel Casillas, also put some sweat equity into the Olds.

“(Cline) said he needed some help,” Davis said. “And we were the guys that could help.”

“It’s been a team-bonding experience,” Cline said.

The Nevada County Fair is Aug. 6-10, with the Demolition Derby set for 7 p.m. Aug. 10. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 12 and under).

For more information, call 273-6217 or visit the Web site

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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