PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River, Lincoln face off in critical PVL bout | TheUnion.com
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PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River, Lincoln face off in critical PVL bout

Bear River defensive linemen Jimmy Vaughn was named to the All-Pioneer Valley League First Team Wednesday.
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Know & Go

What: Bear River (7-2) at Lincoln (5-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Lincoln High School, 790 J St, Lincoln

Follow along: on Twitter @TheUnionSports or online at TheUnion.com

The Bear River football team came out of the gates strong, opening the season with seven straight wins and looking primed for another Sac-Joaquin Section title run. But, after dropping two close games in a row the Bruins are looking to find their winning stride before the playoffs kickoff next week.

“You never want to go into the playoffs on a losing streak,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “(A win) would be huge. Besides mentally, there’s still a good chance we could get a home playoff game.”

The Bruins (7-2, 2-2 PVL) close the regular season against Pioneer Valley League foe Lincoln (5-4, 2-2 PVL). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight.



Striped stampede

The Zebras, led by former Bear River junior varsity head coach Chris Bean, have the PVL’s top scoring offense, but are coming off their worst performance of the season, a 49-7 loss to league champ Placer. Despite only scoring seven points against the Hillmen, Lincoln still averages 45.9 points per game this season.




“They are very balanced,” Logue said of the Zebra’s offense. “They can throw well, run well and their quarterback can run. There are no weaknesses on offense.”

Lincoln averages more than 500 yards on offense per game and can beat teams with their pass game as well as their run game.

Senior quarterback Elijah Garcia has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, and also has four rushing touchdowns. Garcia’s favorite target this season has been 6-foot, 1-inch Caleb Kettlehut, who has more than 1,000 yards receiving this season to go with 15 touchdowns. Kettlehut has caught a touchdown pass in every game this season but one.

On the ground, Lincoln leans on senior Elijah Cunningham and junior Ryan Graham. Cunningham leads the team with 19 rushing touchdowns, and Graham has 10 this season.

Where the Zebras struggle is on the defensive end. Lincoln is allowing 40 points per game this season.

Bearing down

The defensive side of the ball is where the Bruins have been strong this season, allowing 17.3 points per game, second only to Placer is in the PVL.

The Bruins will also have their sack leader Gunnar Simpson, who missed last week’s game with an injury, back for the matchup with Lincoln.

“Having Gunnar back is big for us,” said Logue. “He’s a bonafide player for our defense.”

Offensive issues

Where the Bruins have struggled of late has been on the offensive end. After mustering only 232 yards from scrimmage and 14 points against Placer, the Bruins looked even worse against Center, totaling 134 yards from scrimmage and turning the ball over five times.

Last year the Bruins blew out the Zebras, 47-6, but things will likely be different tonight as both teams have something to play for, said Logue.

“They’re shooting for a playoff spot and we’re shooting for home game,” said Logue.

Stepping up

The Bruins have been bruised and battered all season, losing several star running backs and defensive studs, but have seemed to be able to keep winning. That is a point of pride for the Bruins.

“I’m very proud of the way the kids have overcome the injuries,” Logue said. “The resiliency shown by these kids has been great.”

Players like Mason Picard (cornerback), Drew Cramer (safety), Beau Baggett (running back, linebacker), and Landen Clark (defensive line) have all stepped into starting roles and exceeded expectations, Logue said.

Elsewhere in the PVL

Colfax (3-6, 1-3 PVL) hits the road to face Placer (9-0, 4-0 PVL), and Foothill (3-6, 2-2 PVL) hosts Center (5-4, 1-3 PVL) in a game that carries playoff implications.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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