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Bruins reload after 2003 playoff run

Bear River had big plans for Cody Chiccourat this year.

The senior running back/defensive back, who was the Bruins’ sole returning all-leaguer from their 2003 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinalist team, was supposed to help lead Bear River in its drive to the University of the Pacific (Stockton) and the section title.

That all changed in July during a routine play at a seven-on-seven passing camp.



He was on defense when he went to break up a pass. He got there in time, but collided with the receiver.

The 5-foot, 8-inch, 190-pounder saw his senior season go up in smoke as he dislocated an elbow.




“That was a huge loss for us. He really came through for us last year,” Bear River head coach Scott Savoie said. “There are no positives other than it did happen early enough in the summer that we didn’t have scramble (to find a replacement).”

The loss of Chicourrat put a spotlight on what might be the Bruins’ biggest weakness this year:

The lack of varsity experience.

Bear River returns just two full-time starters from a 2003 team which was second in the Pioneer Valley League in rushing and third in the section in points allowed.

Seniors Matt Mocek, a tight end, and David Hudson, an offensive lineman, make up the short list of Bruins who started all 12 games last season.

“There are a lot of guys on this team now, a lot of juniors and seniors who played last year who are pretty ready to step up right now,” said Bruin senior Brock Boyle. “It helps to have a lot of varsity experience, but I think with the guys we have, we should be pretty good.”

Mocek agreed.

“Varsity experience is definitely a big thing. But I think we have a lot of quality juniors from last year’s team and I think they’ll all step up to the challenge,” said Mocek, who tallied 35 yards on three catches along with 71 tackles and three fumble recoveries last year.

Among those juniors who will have to learn the ways of varsity football in a hurry are offensive linemen Landon Savoie, Evan Jensen, halfback David Wheeler, nose guard Donnie Militano and running backs, Kevin Grimes and Michael McGuire.

Coach Savoie, who will enter his third year as Bruins’ skipper, doesn’t have to look too far back in program’s history for a similar situation.

“This reminds me a lot of my first year as head coach,” he said. “We had a couple of guys who came back with some varsity experience. But not many. We were pulling on our juniors in a big way really early.”

It’s true Bear River’s fortunes will depend heavily on the production of juniors, the cupboard isn’t completely bare by way of returning seniors.

n Boyle, a fullback/linebacker who racked up 186 of his 245 total rushing yards in the last three games of the season – including 123 yards on 20 carries at Oakmont (Roseville) in the regular-season finale – was fifth in the league in tackles with 112.

“Brock played defense for most of the season, but he did get some reps on offense,” coach Savoie said. “He really caught fire against Oakmont, and he had some good runs against Oakdale too.”

— Offensive lineman/linebacker J.D. Moore totaled 71 tackles – highlighted by a career-high 15 stops in a 13-6 second-round playoff loss to Oakdale – to finish tied for eighth on the team.

“J.D. was super dedicated in the weight room since January. You can tell just by the way he runs, he’s gotten more powerful,” Savoie said. “Last year he was one of our better hitters. This year we don’t have anybody who can hit like him. He can bring it.”

— Quarterback Michael Fredrickson didn’t see much time under center last season, but will learn on the job.

“He had a chance to get in some games last year,” coach Savoie said. “He another one who is going to have to step up in a big, big way.”

Offensive lineman Kyle Riley along with defensive tackle Alex Wolosz, who posted 32 tackles and a sack in limited action, wide receiver Kyle Reid, lineman Keagan Robison, cornerback Lance Welch, linebacker Justin Brandon and wingback/free safety Anthony Welz are just a few seniors who will have to play key roles this season if Bear River is to have a realistic shot at a league title and a return to the poststeason.

“I think it sort of is important to have varsity experience, but at the same time the seniors on this team that didn’t play a lot last year and the juniors have adjusted well to the speed and hitting (at the varsity level),” Moore said. “I think if the returning starters go out there and do their job and work hard, it’ll inspire the other players”


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