Bruins capture alumni game
The sound of pads popping, the crowd cheering, coaches and players yelling from the sideline. It sounded just like a Friday night in the fall, but yet it was a wet February afternoon.
Spring football in Nevada County? It had to be the second annual Bear River-Nevada Union alumni football game.
A small but enthusiastic crowd was on hand to watch an intensely played rivalry game between former players of each high school program Saturday at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
Bear River was able to control the ball and the clock most of the game to come away with a 12-7 victory.
The Bruins managed to keep the Miner defense off balance, mixing power running with a controlled passing game. With the tandem of Mike Haga and Beau Huskiens pounding the ball on the ground, Bear River quarterback Ramon Barrios was able to find Erik Belding, John Morrisey and his receiving corps often enough to move the chains.
By running up the time of possession, Bear River was able to keep NU’s offense off of the field and off of the scoreboard.
Nevada Union finally broke through in the third quarter when John Link managed to hang on to a tipped pass from Nevada Union quarterback Brian Dwyer while landing on his back at the goal line. Dwyer ran a quarterback keeper on the next play for the score.
Twice in the fourth quarter, the Miners defense held on fourth down to stop Bear River drives, but the Bruin defense was too much for NU to overcome.
A blocked field goal by Nevada Union with 3 minutes and 20 seconds remaining appeared to give the Miners hope, but after converting a fourth-and-two at midfield, the drive stalled out at the Bear River 40 with NU failing to convert on a fourth-and-one with 53 seconds left on the clock.
For the majority of the players involved, though, the score wasn’t as important as playing. Most of the players have been out of school for at least two years and some much longer than that.
Nevada Union’s oldest player on the field was Ben Painter, from the class of ’89 and a member of two section championship teams. Bear River assistant coach/player Jeff Baggett, 32, was the oldest player on the field, having graduated with the class of 1990.
What could bring these former players together for this physical pounding in the muck?
Part of the answer could be seen when NU head football coach Dave Humphers made an appearance on the Miners sideline late in the fourth quarter. Many of the NU players came over to shake his hand or give him a friendly greeting.
“This is all for him (Humphers),” said Chris Buchanan, an assistant for the Nevada Union alumni team. “All our proceeds go to the NU athletic fund. We want to help with the new turf and other improvements for the field. We split the gate fifty-fifty with Bear River today.”
While the shared spirit drove many of the players, for some, the thrill of competition and full-contact never disappears.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah! They can send two guys and still not take me out!” Shawn Jones said to his teammates on the sideline.
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