High stakes for Bruins, Hillmen in PVL showdown
Considering everything that’s on the line for tonight’s Pioneer Valley League tilt at J. David Ramsey Stadium, Scott Savoie figured, why not just go ahead and say it.
“If we have any hopes or dreams of a playoff berth,” Bear River’s co-head coach said, “we have to win Friday night.”
That thought clearly came to mind following last week’s 28-12 loss to Whitney, a sudden power in the PVL. The Wildcats are sitting atop the league standings, having already beaten last season’s champion, Colfax (10-7), and runner-up, Bear River.
With the league owning only two of the eight spots in the Division IV playoffs – and unless Whitney falls elsewhere – the Bruins and Falcons and the rest of the PVL will fight for second place.
But tonight’s showdown with neighborhood rival Placer (1-4), isn’t only a key contest for the Bruins (3-1-1). Though the Hillmen have just one win in five kickoffs, that sole victory – 42-36 over El Dorado Ð was a PVL win, something the Bruins have yet to earn this fall.
“Absolutely it’s a big game for us,” Savoie said. “And for Placer, it’s a big for them, regardless of what they did in the preseason. They’re 1-0 in league, so they’re well within the league race.
“I know it sounds clichéd, but they are a really, really good 1-4 team.”
That sentiment is one shared by a coach about 15 miles to the south. Joey Montoya, Placer’s first-year coach, said his Hillmen could be 4-1 had the ball bounced their way a bit more in the preseason against some powerful programs.
Placer’s nonleague opponents, which included unbeaten Casa Roble and Rocklin, have produced a combined 17-3 record so far this season.
But Montoya says the Hillmen expect to square off with another quality club tonight.
“We know we’re playing a very good team,” Montoya said. “We know Bear River is going to be hungry because there’s a lot on the line. So we’re looking forward to what we think is going to be a great football game.”
Though Montoya is in his first season at Placer, he’s certainly no stranger to the area. He graduated from Placer High School but also attended school Pleasant Ridge, Magnolia and Forest Lake Christian prior to his high school days.
“Bear River’s always been a team I’ve had a ton of respect for,” Montoya said. “I always have kind of followed them as a distant fan. I’ve known (Bruins co-head coach) Terry Logue from when I was a kid. He coached a lot of my friends.”
Montoya also is also well known in Nevada Union’s neck of the woods, having served as an assistant coach for Dave Humphers for several seasons prior to leading Pioneer to a 26-9 record over the past three campaigns. In fact, Montoya is one five former NU coaches on the Placer sidelines this fall, including Morgan Lucas, Rayce Lucas, Bill Miller and John Miller.
And like Nevada Union, Placer now operates its offense out of the wing-T formation, which so far has produced three backs who have gained more than 400 yards through five games. Bobby Classon (419 yards) and Jake Lopez (406) lead the team with four touchdowns, while Ross Moskwa has rushed for 413 yards.
Placer quarterback Matt Ross has thrown for 483 yards, with most of his passes flying in the direction of Bruno Gotzmer (11 catches, 250 yards).
After outscoring their first three opponents 75-7, Bear River hasn’t found the win column since Sept. 21. An injury-depleted Bruins team tied Marysville 21-21 on Sept. 28 before falling to Whitney last week.
The team’s leading rushers, Matt Belnap (337 yards) and Andy Parquette (210 yards, eight touchdowns), missed the Marysville game and saw limited action last week.
Hopefully, Savoie said, the fact that Bear River’s roster is healthy once again means the Bruins can return to form in a hurry.
“Last week, we made too many mistakes,” Savoie said. “Honestly, we’ve played some sloppy football for a couple of weeks. Sometimes we’ve been sharp as a tack and other times in a quandary.
“In a big game like that, you can’t make mistakes and not pay for it. And now that we’ve got our backs against the wall, we’ve got to practice like that, and you’ve got to play like that.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
Placer (1-4) at
Bear River (3-1-1)
7:30 p.m. today
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