PREP FOOTBALL: A look at teams from the PVL ahead of Friday’s league openers
All games on Friday
Lincoln (2-3) at Bear River (2-3), 7:30 p.m.
Placer (1-4) at Colfax (4-1), 7:30 p.m.
Foothill (1-4) at Center (4-1), 7:15 p.m.
The Bear River football team tackled a brutal non-league schedule lined with playoff teams from a year ago and section title contenders.
The Bruins escaped with a 2-3 record and now set their sights on the Pioneer Valley League play. A place where the Placer Hillmen have reigned supreme in recent years.
Since 2012, the Hillmen have sat atop the PVL, winning three outright league titles and earning a share of another. But, the Hillmen limp into league play with a 1-4 record in non-league action and haven’t looked like the dominant Placer teams of recent years. Colfax and Center both come into league play with 4-1 records. Throw a high scoring Lincoln team and a scrappy Foothill team into the mix and the PVL season is shaping up to be a highly competitive and open race.
Here’s a brief look at the PVL teams and how they fared so far:
BEAR RIVER BRUINS (2-3)
The Bruins have been up and down this season, earning convincing wins over El Dorado and Union Mine, but losing to Orland, Marysville and Sutter.
“(Preseason) is over now and we’re focusing on league,” Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue said after Friday’s game. “We got a huge game Friday, I think the biggest game of the year. If we can go 4-1 in league, 5-0, we’re going to be in the playoffs. (Friday’s game) is a critical game for us. We’re at home and we got to play well.”
Where the Bruins have played well this season is on defense, allowing just 16.4 points per game. Leading the Bear River defense is junior linebacker Austin Baze (59 tackles, 49 solo, sack, 3 FR, punt block), junior defensive back Luke Baggett (48 tackles, 40 solo), senior linebacker Shane Flores (37 tackles, 24 solo) and senior defensive lineman Landen Clark (32 tackles, 24 solo, 3 sacks).
On offense, the Bruins lean on the run, averaging 132 yards per game. The offensive attack is led by Baze (289 rush yards, 8.3 average per carry, 7 TDs) and junior Stephen Taylor (170 rush yards, 6.3 average per carry, TD). Offensively, the Bruins are managing just 21.2 points per game.
Bear River opens PVL play at home against Lincoln Friday.
COLFAX FALCONS (4-1)
The Falcons soar into PVL play with a 4-1 record, including three road wins. Colfax earned wins over Golden Sierra (42-0), Winters (39-28), Bella Vista (42-0) and Wheatland (40-6). The Falcons one loss came at Argonaut (35-30). As a team, Colfax is averaging 38.6 points per game while allowing just 13.8 per game.
The Falcons have several weapons on offense, including senior quarterback Austin Weir (39-for-65, 770 yards, 6 TDs). Weir’s favorite targets are juniors Nick Van Doorn (14 catches, 344 yards, 4 TDs) and Garren O’Keefe (16 catches, 267 yards, 2 TDs). Colfax also moves the ball well with the run with junior Mason Ahrens (477 rush yards, 10.1 average, 12 total TDs) and senior Marc Avila (403 rush yards, 8.4 average, six total TDs).
Colfax, which hasn’t won a PVL title in football since it did it in back-to-back years from 2010-2011, opens league play against Placer Friday.
PLACER HILLMEN (1-4)
The reigning PVL champion Hillmen have had a rough go at it in non-league play, going 1-4 with losses to Golden Valley, Nevada Union, Reno and Vista del Lago.
A 1-4 start does not necessarily doom a team though, and Placer can point to 2013 as a reference point. During that season, the Hillmen went 1-4 in non-league play then went 4-1 in the PVL to claim a share of the league title and a berth into the playoffs.
This year, the Hillmen are having trouble stopping their opponents from hanging up big numbers on the scoreboard, allowing an average of 29.6 points per game. On offense, Placer is managing 25.8 points per game behind junior running back Mario Perez (491 rush yards5.6 average per carry, 9 TDs). The Hillmen have a sophomore quarterback in Michael Stuck, who is averaging 147.2 passing yards per game to go with one touchdown and five interceptions.
Placer gets league play started at Colfax Friday.
CENTER COUGARS (4-1)
The Cougars are getting the job done on the defensive side of the ball, pitching two shutouts and holding their non-league opponents to just 11 points per game. Center has held its opponent to seven or less points in four of five games so far. The Cougars only loss this season came against Bradshaw Christian, 41-31.
Center isn’t a defense only team, as it has scored 28 or more points in four of five games and averages 29.2 overall. The last time Center won the PVL was in 2013, when it shared the title with Placer.
The Cougars open league play at home against Foothill Friday.
LINCOLN FIGHTING ZEBRAS (2-3)
After opening the season with three straight losses, the Fighting Zebras enter PVL play on a two-game winning streak. After wins over Wheatland and Casa Roble, the Zebras look to have found their stride just as league opens up.
Lincoln puts up a decent amount of points at 27.2 per game and leans on the run quite a bit. Leading the Zebras is senior running back Ryan Graham (665 rush yards, 6.2 average, 14 total TDs). Graham is Lincoln’s no. 1 weapon and has already topped the 200-yard rushing mark in two games this season.
Through the air, senior Isaac Adams completes 53 percent of his passes and 405 yards.
Lincoln struggled defensively early on, allowing 39.3 points per game through the first three games. But, the Zebras have been much better of late, allowing just 21 points total across their last two games.
Lincoln travels to Bear River Friday.
FOOTHILL MUSTANGS (1-4)
After opening the season with a big win over Mira Loma, the Mustangs have dropped four straight games heading into league play. Foothill has had a tough time on defense, allowing a league worst 30.2 points per game. The Mustangs have shown they have an offense capable of scoring points in bunches, averaging 26.4 per game. Leading the Foothill offense is senior quarterback Vernon Robertson who can make plays with his legs and arm. Robertson has 461 passing yards and five passing touchdowns to go with 347 rush yards and three rush touchdowns.
Foothill heads to Center Friday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com. All statistics courtesy of MaxPreps.com.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.