PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River overcomes penalties, beats Foothill in PVL opener |

PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River overcomes penalties, beats Foothill in PVL opener

Bear River's Austin Baze runs the ball during a game against Foothill Friday. Baze rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown in teh game, and the Bruins won, 20-7.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |


First quarter

BR: David O’Brien 21-yard run (9:31) Ben O’ Lena kick

Second quarter

BR: O’Brien 10-yard run (10:55) O’Lena kick

F: Vernon Robertson 12-yard run (7:09) Jose Gutierrez kick

BR: Austin Baze 11-yard run (2:27) PAT no good

In a sloppy Pioneer Valley League football opener where Bear River piled up 143 yards in penalties, surpassing Foothill’s total offense of 132 yards, a dominating Bruin defense was the difference.

Bear River defeated the Mustangs 20-7 Friday night, yielding only nine rushing yards on 36 carries with 19 of those touches netting zero or negative yardage. Foothill’s only touchdown came on a drive aided by over 30 yards in penalties. Aside from the officiating calls that were made one might argue there were also plenty of missed calls, ranging from defenders hugging receivers in the end zone to players getting kicked in the face. All in all, it was a doozy.

“I’m not making any excuses,” said Bruins’ co-head coach Scott Savoie. “We’ve had two huge games back to back (Escalon and Sutter) and we obviously had a little bit of a letdown tonight. With that being said we still had some kids who played really well. I thought Dave Mastrella played his heart out and David O’Brien was solid again.”

Consistency running the ball has been the Bruins’ strong suit this season. Friday night the team rushed for 275 yards on 44 carries with senior O’Brien leading the charge (13 touches, 98 yards, two touchdowns). The depth out of the backfield has been tremendous and keeps the Bruins stable of runners fresh. Sophomore Austin Baze (12 touches for 83 yards and a touchdown) and senior Mastrella (74 rush yards on eight carries) each stepped up to share the load and move the chains, averaging better than six yards per carry.

In the trenches

The battle at the line of scrimmage was owned by the Bruins, who had their way on almost every play. The Mustangs also took some desperate shots down the field to try and make something happen, but Bear River never allowed anything to slip through the cracks.

More so than Foothills’ athleticism, flags were Bear River’s biggest enemy, and the team recognizes that needs to change, and quickly.

“We could get away with it because (Foothill) wasn’t nearly as good,” said O’Brien. “We can’t get away with that later in league because that’s going to come back to bite us if we don’t come out ready. It was definitely a learning game. You can’t come out flat and take a team for granted.”

Under pressure

Despite the abundance of flags, Bear River still went on the road in a buzzing, homecoming environment and took care of business.

“We’re not homecoming bait very often,” explained Savoie. “We’ve been to two homecoming baits this year and now we’ve survived them both. The outcome was OK, but not the best of performances overall. We’ll get it together.”

On Bear River’s last scoring drive late in the second quarter it overcame a crucial fourth-and-12 from the Mustang 38 yard line. Senior quarterback Jason Voter rolled out to his right and threw a dart to Mastrella on a well-executed timing pattern. Mastrella snatched the pass and turned upfield knowing exactly where he needed to get to. The officials measured and Bear River got the first down by the length of half a football.

Three plays later Baze rumbled in from 11 yards out to give the Bruins a much-needed two-score cushion in a game where anything seemed possible.

Around the PVL

Friday night Placer (6-0, 1-0 PVL) stayed perfect to keep pace with the Bruins, trouncing Center (4-2, 0-1 PVL) on the road 33-7. The Hillmen led 26-0 at the half and surrendered the Cougars’ lone score late in the fourth quarter.

Lincoln amassed over 500 yards of total offense (244 yards passing, 275 yards rushing) in a 55-21 walloping at Colfax. The Fighting Zebras improved to 4-2, 1-0 PVL as the Falcons dropped to 2-4, 0-1 PVL.

Bear River (6-0, 1-0 PVL) now enters a two-game home stand where it first welcomes rival Colfax, and as usual, there’s a lot at stake.

“We got a lot of injuries, but we just got to suck it up,” added Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “We got Colfax (Friday) and we got to get after it. It’s a huge game in PVL and a second league win with seven wins would put us in the playoffs, so it’s a playoff-entry game if we can win it, one of our final two home games against our crosstown rival. If we have to get (our guys) fired up this week, then we don’t deserve to win.”

The rivals reunite at 7:30 p.m. Friday at J. David Ramsey Stadium.

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.

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