PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River hits the road to face Escalon |

PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River hits the road to face Escalon

Dave Mastrella breaks free for a first quarter touchdownagainst Argonaut at J. David Ramsey Field earlier this season.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |

Know & Go

What: Bear River (3-0) at Escalon (3-1)

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Escalon High School, 1528 Yosemite Ave, Escalon

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It’s been 10 days since the Bear River Bruins football team has had a taste of game action, but that hiatus is quickly coming to a close.

“We are chomping at the bit to get back out there,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie.

The Bruins make their return to the gridiron stage tonight on the road when they face a strong Escalon Cougars team.

In the Bruins’ toughest test to date, they will face a 3-1 Escalon squad which features a fierce running attack, averaging just under 300 yards per game.

“They are a storied program in our section and they are good year in, and year out,” Savoie said of Escalon. “They play a physical brand of football. Last year was a slugfest and I picture (tonight’s) game will be similar.

Last season, the Bruins won the non-league matchup, 14-7, at home. Tonight, the Bruins play at Escalon for the first time in the team’s history.

As a team the Cougars average 296.5 rushing yards per game, average 6 yards per carry and have scored 16 of their 19 offensive touchdowns on the ground.

Leading Escalon’s bevy of backs is senior Hunter Calton. 5-foot, 10-inch, 190-pound running back has 572 yards and seven touchdowns on 67 carries. Calton gets the bulk of the carries but is far from their only threat. The Cougars have had eight different ball carriers reach pay dirt this season.

Bear River’s defense has been strong this season and has yet to allow a running back to top 100 yards.

Leading the Bruin defense has been 6-foot, 192-pound senior linebacker Gunner Simpson (18 tackles, three sacks) and 6-foot, 262-pound senior defensive lineman Jimmy Vaughn (16 tackles, five tackles for loss).

Bear River has allowed 54 points this season, but 12 of those came on defensive scores by their opponent. The Bruin defense has yielded just 14 points per game this season.

The Bruins, like the Cougars, have leaned heavily on their run game, averaging 221.7 yards on the ground per game compared to 97 yards through the air.

Leading the Bruin ground attack is senior David O’Brien with 231 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 carries. Senior Dave Mastrella is second on the team with 196 rush yards and two rush touchdowns on 13 carries.

The Bruins (3-0) are averaging 35 points per game this season, just under the 36.5 points per game Escalon has averaged this year.

Standing in the way of the Bruins offensive success is an Escalon defense that is allowing 23.5 points per game. The Cougars’ defense is led by senior defensive lineman Logan Widmer. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 220-pound Widmer leads the team with three sacks this season, and also has 19 tackles to go with three fumble recoveries.

The Cougars also have defensive playmakers in senior linebacker Dakota Saing (20 total tackles, sack, two fumble recoveries), junior defensive back C.J. Gumbs (16 tackles, interception), and senior defensive back Cameron Puthoff (15 tackles, two interceptions).

Savoie said the game will come down to who wins the battle in the trenches.

“The team that wins this game will be the team that wins the battle up front,” said Savoie. “They are a lot like us in that their strength is their line.”

Plenty of success on the sidelines

Last week Savoie earned his 100th win as a prep football coach. Savoie still has a long way to go to catch fellow co-head coach Terry Logue (212 wins), but together they form quite the experienced and formidable duo. When they face Escalon tonight they will be facing another incredibly successful coach in Mark Louriero. Lauriero is the Sac-Joaquin Section record holder for head coaching wins with 268.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Escalon High School.

Around the PVL

Colfax (1-3) vs. Wheatland (1-3)

The Falcons are home for the fourth time in five games this season, this time hosting the 1-3 Pirates.

Last season this matchup went the way of the Falcons with a lopsided score of 26-0. This year both teams come into the contest on the heels of a loss and desperately needing a confidence boosting win with league play not far off.

Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at James O. Marson Field.

Placer (4-0) at Vista del Lago (2-2)

The Hillmen look to wrap up a perfect non-league season against the Eagles.

Placer has yet to be challenged this season, having won every game by at least 15 points and outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 180-54.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Vista del Lago High School.

Center (3-1) at Vallejo (1-2)

The Cougars are coming off their first loss of the season last week, and will look to get back on track against a Vallejo team that is averaging just 14 points per game.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Vallejo High School.

Foothill (1-2) at Cordova (2-2)

The Mustangs will look to build off their first win of the season when they travel to face a Cordova team that is coming off a 49-0 win over Johnson.

Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at Cordova High School.

Lincoln (3-1) vs. Union Mine

The Fighting Zebras already have two more wins than they had a season ago, and are looking to close their non-league schedule on a high note when they face a Union Mine team coming off its second loss of the season.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln High School.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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