FOOTBALL 2010: Back to Bruin football
With one week less than normal to prepare for the season, ready or not, Bear River’s Bruins are about to kick off the 2010 campaign.
While the scheduled “week zero” game has been known for some time, it doesn’t change the fact that the first game can creep up quickly, just a day away as of this morning.
Even though the Bruins have some key players coming back and the coaches are generally pleased with how practices have gone, the team faces some significant challenges in key areas.
“I was happy with our commitment during the summer time,” said Bruins’ co-head coach Scott Savoie.
Savoie got to review his players a bit at University of Nevada-Reno football camp this summer.
“We got a good sense of the group from early on,” Savoie said of the camp.
“That’s the strength of our team,” said Savoie of his team’s offensive line. “It’s almost intact from last year.”
Last year those Bruins helped pave the way for a pair of running backs who combined to rush for 1,401 yards to account for 64.5 percent of the Bear River ground game. But both Johnny Jewett (707 yards) and Cole White (694 yards) are gone to graduation. Fortunately for the Bruin backs replacing them, the offensive front is an experienced one.
Tackles David Beghetti (6-2, 240) and Jason Grady (6-5, 255) and center Craig Hackland (6-4, 220) return, Savoie said.
“It’s a pretty good group,” Savoie said. “All five of them are committed seniors.”
The group also includes guards Michael Mascari (6-0, 190) and Brian Kenyon (6-0, 215).
“We have three quarterbacks that can all play,” Savoie said. “Not often do you have all three (as skilled.)”
James Harris started at quarterback last year as a sophomore, skipping the junior varsity level and going right into the fire. He completed 62 of 135 passes (46 percent) for 666 yards, four touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Harris is joined by senior Joseph Lavelle and junior Dallan Huetter, who was the junior varsity quarterback in 2009.
Senior Joey Reina returns as wide receiver, and will also see action on the opposite of the ball at cornerback. Last year, Reina hauled in 38 catches for 304 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Another offensive threat the Bruins are counting on is Sam Houston, who carried the ball 28 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns last year. Houston will start at fullback, sharing a platoon with junior Jimmy Bamburg. Holding down the halfback position will be senior Chris Carcido and junior Josh Toft.
The Bruins have several options at tight end, including 6-foot 5-inch, 185-pound senior Tyler Quirarte, who has won the starting spot.
In four of Bear River’s five wins last fall, the Bruins pitched two shutouts (Calaveras and Lindhurst) and allowed a combined 22 points in wins over Mesa Verde and El Dorado.
The only time Bear River held on to win an offensive shootout was against Woodcreek (35-34) out of the Sierra Foothill League in week three.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bear River’s five losses saw opponents score no fewer than 29 points against the Bruins.
If the folks in south county are to see more wins this fall, the Bruins will likely have to offer more of the former and less of the latter.
Bear River is “green” on the defensive line, said co-coach Terry Logue. And although few of the returning Bruins up front saw action, Logue does see potential in the trenches.
Dillon Huffman, the 6-4, 220-pound starting strong tackle, “looks like he’s going to be a good player,” Logue said.
Kenyon and Mascari will share duties at quick tackle, while senior Anthony Gartner (6-1, 225) starts the season at nose guard.
As valuable as Cole White was to the Bruin offense, he played even a more pivotal role on the opposite side of the ball at linebacker, where he led the team in tackles for two straight seasons. As a senior, he racked up 159 tackles (34 solo), which followed an impressive junior campaign (179 tackles, 95 solo).
Bruin linebackers hoping to fill the void created by White’s graduation are senior Sean O’Brien on the strong side, Bamburg in the middle and Quirarte on the weak side. Alex Rea, a senior, starts as the bandit backer and Huetter will play rover.
Carcido and Reina are the starters at cornerback, by while junior Harley Sauers will likely share safety duties with Harris.
The Bruins take on five nonleague games before kicking off Pioneer Valley League action. Those nonleague games are somewhat unknown quantities, with the Bruins facing two teams in Cordova and River Valley that they’ve never played.
“We have a lot of empty folders,” Savoie said of the team’s preparation. “Some teams we haven’t played before and some we haven’t played in quite a while.”
“It’s a completely different look (for a schedule).”
The Bruins follow up their season opener with another home game on Sept. 3 against Capital Christian, a Division V section champ in 2009, which defeated Bear River in last season’s first game 29-14.
Logue and Savoie agreed that Placer could be the tops in the PVL, considering the Hillmen have the most players returning after finishing second in the league last year and appearing in the last two section title games.
Placer, which blasted Bear River 51-7 last year, hosts the Bruins in Auburn on Oct. 8 after a bye week.
As for Center and Foothill, two other league opponents in October, the Bruins had better be on their toes.
“We know they have speed,” Logue said of the two teams.
Lincoln, which Bear River plays on Oct. 22, and Colfax, which the Bruins conclude the regular season against on Nov. 5, could be right up toward the top of the league with Placer, Logue said.
Lincoln finished on top of the league last year with its best record ever, but lost a number of players to graduation, said Savoie.
Despite the several unknowns among their opponents and a rather “green” defensive front both coaches are confident the Bruins can work their way into the playoff picture.
“We’re definitely feel like we’re in it for a playoff spot,” Logue said.
Contact Sports Writer Greg Moberly via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4234.
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