Bruins battle for pride, Falcons fight for playoffs |

Bruins battle for pride, Falcons fight for playoffs

Bear River's Braden Duncan fires a pass during a game Friday against Lincoln.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |

Bear River’s fourth consecutive Pioneer Valley League stumble Friday night was the final nail in the playoff coffin.

And while the Bruins and Foothill will battle it out in the PVL basement, the rest of the league has set up quite the finale.

Placer (5-4, 4-0 PVL) was able to impose its will as it ran over Colfax to stay perfect in league play and clinched at least second place and a playoff berth. Center (6-3, 3-1 PVL) improved its record with a lopsided win at Foothill to give itself a shot at sharing the league title if it should knock off the Hillmen at home this week. And of course, Lincoln (7-2, 3-1 PVL) will be rooting for the Cougars when it travels to Colfax (7-2, 2-2 PVL) for a game that could possibly decide the Falcons’ fate as well.

Scenario-wise it can be simple, or it can blow your mind. If Placer wins then, it’s the PVL champ. If Placer loses, then well, it isn’t simple anymore. There could potentially be a three-way tie for first. If Center should knock off Placer and Lincoln beats Colfax, then it would create just that: a we-beat-you, you-beat-them, they-beat-us mess.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. A Placer win and a Colfax win would mean a three-way tie for second, which poses a slough of question marks because only one second-place team will be guaranteed a playoff berth while the others will have to cross there fingers for an at-large bid. It would be another we-beat-you, you-beat-them, they-beat-us controversy. If Placer and Lincoln both notch victories, then the Zebras would stand alone as runner up and make Colfax’s resume with two league wins over Bear River and Foothill not look all that impressive. And finally, if Center and Colfax each win, then it would just be Center and Placer atop the league standings with the Cougars getting the crown for winning head to head.

However, there is one thing that is for certain — the Bruins’ 42-7 loss at Lincoln dashed any dwindling hope the team had of making it to the postseason. So while that pressure has been lifted, another, more distasteful one has taken its place. The squad now finds itself in another tough predicament that will be resolved this Friday when it takes on Foothill (1-8, 0-4 PVL) in what will be the battle of the PVL dungeon dwellers.

“We’re playing for pride at this point,” said Bruins co-head coach Scott Savioe, who expressed his frustration Friday after the loss. “We have got to battle — we need to get our swagger back. We’ve had four tough weeks in a row. We need to fight through this and finish things up strong. That’s all there is to say.”

The season may be over for Bear River (5-4, 0-4 PVL) after its game versus Foothill, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something left to play for, especially for the 20 seniors on the Bruins’ roster, some of whom could be playing in the final game of their athletic careers. After all, 6-4 would still go down in the books as a winning season and be enough to avoid a last-place finish.

“It’s a heart-gut check,” Bear River assistant coach Duane Zauner said, following the crushing defeat. “Somehow, we have to check it out. We have to show a little heart, a little pride. You’re going to have years like this where there are just teams in league better than you are.”

It was quite evident the Fighting Zebras were better than the Bruins. At halftime, Lincoln held a 28-0 advantage and had already rushed for 197 yards and passed for 114. Bear River had just 100 yards of total offense for the game.

The one score the Bruins did manage also came on a drive in which the Zebras committed two penalties on fourth-down plays to keep it alive, including a fourth-and-32. Despite Brad Botsford getting the zero off the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter, there was very little to cheer about.

“We have to win next week,” added Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “We have to finish on a positive note. We’ve had all four tough teams in a row.”

That’s where the focus has shifted now, and that’s where it needs to be. Since dropping the heart-breaker to Colfax in week six of the season, it has been a rough ride.

The Bruins need to dig deep, rekindle their spirits and finish their season with a victory for themselves. Foothill is no doubt telling itself the same thing. The Mustangs haven’t won since week five when they beat Natomas (0-9).

To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email

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