IN THE HUDDLE: After allowing 43 points in its season-opening victory, Bear River looks for return to traditionally tough defense
Terry Logue has a pure passion for playing defense.
For the former Long Beach State linebacker and longtime Bear River football coach, there’s not much that’s as satisfying as stopping someone else from scoring.
And throughout the 25-year history of Bear River football – or at least the 22 years Logue’s been part of the program – the Bruins have built a tradition of playing tough defense.
Take Bear River’s section championship season as an example. In 1994, the Logue-led Bruins allowed a mere 33 points in the 10-game regular season that saw six shutouts pitched by the Bear River defense.
Even the championship game against Golden Sierra didn’t offer much of an offensive highlight reel. Though some might have deemed it an ugly win, Bear River’s 3-0 victory in double overtime was certainly a thing of beauty in Logue’s eyes.
Holding 13 opponents to an average of 4.4 points per week for an entire season is pretty stellar stuff.
So one couldn’t help but wonder, upon hearing the news of Bear River’s 50-43 season-opening win over Cordova, how tough of a time the defensive guru had watching both sides of the scoreboard light up last week.
“That had to be the most points we’ve ever allowed in a win. I honestly don’t remember a game where we gave up as much as 43 points and won,” Logue said. “Two years ago, against Capital Christian was a lot like last Friday’s game – and we had one like that against Lindhurst, too – where we’d get ahead by a couple of touchdowns and they’d get right back into it.”
Bear River won both of those games, too, as a high-octane Bruin offensive attack outscored Capital Christian 56-35 and Lindhurst 48-31.
But, historically speaking, opposing offenses haven’t put up those kind of numbers against Bear River very often.
In fact, three of four highest point total scored against the Bruins came in the program’s first two years of existence, including the record 56 points put up by Oak Ridge in 1986. The lone exception was last season’s 51-7 loss to Placer.
Last week, of course, the Bruins gave up only eight points less than that and still came away with a win.
“It was frustrating,” Logue said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but they made some great plays. We knew we would have trouble keeping (Cordova quarterback Mike Hicks) in the pocket and we did.
“But it was the first game and we’ve got a lot of new faces out there. It was frustrating, but we did get a defensive score (an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Dallen Heutter) and another big turnover to help us.”
And, of course, Bear River’s offense came out firing on all cylinders, thanks largely to the big guys up front.
To his credit, Logue said, Hicks caused quite a few problems for Bear River throughout the night. He completed 14-of-18 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns. And though he only totaled just one rushing yard, he did break off a 21-yard gain on the ground.
“I was really impressed with that kid,” Logue said. “When he scrambled, he didn’t scramble just to scramble, but to find a guy open down field.”
Containing the quarterback is one of several lessons for the Bruin defense to learn from the game. And considering how inexperienced Bear River is on the defensive front, the early part of the season is sure to be a learning process. But injuries have also taken a toll early, causing Logue to juggle the lineup a bit.
“We didn’t have one returning starter on the defensive line,” Logue said. “We had kids who had played, but not starting there. Tyler Quirarte played bandit linebacker at the end of the year and our secondary had some guys who had played returning. (Chris Carcido, Joey Reina and Chris Talbot) were returning players, but now Talbot’s out six to eight weeks with an injured shoulder. So we’ve got James Harris playing safety for the first time.”
Harris, the Bruins’ starting quarterback and Heutter, the second-string signal-caller, are both expected to start in the secondary tonight. Middle linebacker Jimmy Bamburg, who led the team with nine tackles last week, will be counted upon heavily as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle that had sidelined him for two weeks. But along with getting healthier, Logue said his defense can get better by taking care of the little things.
“Our defensive line did not play as well as they can play, although Mike Mascari played pretty well,” Logue said. “You have to focus on the mistakes you made and find out which mistakes are fixable – some of them were and sometimes they just made really good plays.
“But you try to correct the things that are correctable. And we’re certainly trying to do that.”
Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4240.
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