PREP FOOTBALL: Bruins gear up for playoff bout against defending state champ Hilmar
KNOW & GO
What: Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 Playoffs
What: No. 7 Bear River (8-3)
at No. 2 Hilmar (9-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Hilmar High School, 7807 N Lander Ave, Hilmar
On the road in the playoffs and facing a higher ranked team. It’s a familiar scenario for the Bear River football program. It’s also a situation they’ve fared well in.
The Bruins have played four postseason games at their opponents’ place since 2015, and in each instance came away with an upset victory.
Bear River will try to make it five straight when they travel to Hilmar to face the No. 2 seeded Yellowjackets (9-1) tonight in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section D6 playoffs.
“Hilmar is a state champion, section champion so we got our work cut out for us going down there,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue after his team’s blowout win over Highlands in the first round.
Fellow co-head coach Scott Savoie said the Bruins are excited for the challenge.
“They’re a very good football team,” Savoie said. “But, I think we have a pretty dang good football team, too. We’re going to go down there and lay it on the line… This is why we coach. This is why we play — to play teams like Hilmar. It’s a great opportunity for our kids and our program. We’re excited.”
The No. 7 Bruins (8-3) put up a school record 64 points against Highlands in the first round, but will now face a Hilmar defense which has allowed just 13.4 points per game this season.
Bear River spreads the ball around on offense with senior quarterback/running back Tre Maronic, senior running back/quarterback Colton Jenkins along with sophomore fullbacks Ryder Kiggins and Jaime Vargas getting a majority of the touches.
Hilmar’s defense is led by junior linebacker Braiden Stubblefield, who boasts a team-best 69 tackles to go with five sacks.
Offensively, the Yellowjackets are run first, but can also air it out. They average 233.8 yards on the ground per game, and 126.9 through the air.
Leading Hilmar is junior quarterback Seth Miguel, who has thrown for 1,255 yards and 21 touchdowns, and also ran for 373 yards and two touchdowns.
Miguel has a big time target in 6-foot, 3-inch senior receiver Aiden Azevedo, who has 21 catches for 426 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
The Yellowjackets spread the ball around in the run game as five different players have at least 245 yards rushing this season and 11 different players have scored touchdowns on the ground. Hilmar’s leading rusher is senior Steven Silva with 553 yards to go with five touchdowns.
Looking to halt the Himar offense, which averages just under 40 points per game, is a Bruins defense loaded with playmakers. On the defensive line, Bear River’s Zach Fink and Warren Davis have been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. At linebacker, the Bruins have talented players in Jacob Ayestaran, Tyler Dzioba and Gavin Jackson. And, in the secondary, Jenkins and Maronic have been game changers with their ability to cover and create turnovers.
“We’re just going to treat it like every other week,” Maronic told the Union last Friday. “Like our motto this week is that, ‘We’re not done and we want more,’ so we’re going to keep fighting.”
A Little History
Bear River has reached the D5 Section title game in four of the last five seasons and won it in 2014 and 2017. The Bruins are in D6 this season due to its low enrollment numbers. The Bruins have won three Section titles in school history.
Hilmar is the Section’s two-time defending D6 champion and went on to claim the CIF D6AA State Championship in 2018 as well. The Yellowjackets are in the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Hilmar has seven Section championships to its credit overall.
The Bruins and Yellowjackets are set to kickoff at 7 p.m. today at Hilmar High School. The winner will advance to the D6 semifinals.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232. Brian Shepard contributed to this article.
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