PREP FOOTBALL: Bruins take undefeated record on road to face Liberty Ranch
KNOW & GO
What: High school football
Who: Bear River (3-0) at Liberty Ranch (1-2)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Liberty Ranch High School, 12945 Marengo Road, Galt, CA 95632
Follow along: On Twitter @WalterLFordIII or online at TheUnion.com
With a ferocious defense and a prolific offense, the Bear River Bruins have dominated in the early weeks of the season.
Three games in and the Bruins have three blowout wins to their credit. As a team, they are averaging 51 points per game and have allowed just one touchdown.
Making their early season run more impressive is the Bruins have only played at home once. Having already made trips to South Tahoe and Lovelock, Nevada for games, Bear River continues its early season travels today when they head to Galt to face the Liberty Ranch Hawks (1-2).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
“(Liberty Ranch) has a couple good backs,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “They have some potential and some athletic kids.”
As a team, Liberty Ranch averages 266.3 yards on the ground and another 80 through the air. They are led by senior running back Gabriel Nino, who is averaging 131.3 rush yards per game to go with three rush touchdowns. Nino also leads the team through the air with nine catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the Bruins’ strong play and Liberty Ranch’s 1-2 record, Bear River’s coaches said they aren’t looking past the Hawks.
“Their two losses are to 3-0 teams,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “They haven’t exactly played a light schedule.”
Liberty Ranch’s losses are to Center (3-0) and Amador (3-0).
The game is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m., tonight.
A big reason for Bear River’s scorching start has been the Bruins in the trenches. The likes of Sam Davis, Trae Nix, Jared Baze and Jonny Carrillo have been impressive on both sides of the line.
“We’ve got two kids over 200 pounds, that’s it,” said Savoie. “But our offensive and defensive lines are really athletic. Pound for pound our kids are pretty tough and pretty athletic.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bruins up front have cleared the way for Bear River ball carriers to rush for an average of 279 yards per game and a total of 14 touchdowns. Six different Bruins have scored rushing touchdowns this season, led by Tre Maronic who has five ground scores to go with a team-high 268 rush yards.
The line has also done a good job of giving senior quarterback Calder Kunde time in the pocket. Kunde has been impressive so far, completing 18-of-27 passes for 349 yards and six touchdowns . He has yet to throw an interception.
“Besides being a great athlete, Calder has the cool factor,” said Logue. “He doesn’t get rattled, doesn’t get nervous, and really understands what we’re trying to do out there offensively. He reads really well and if he absolutely has to, he can take off and run. He’s done a tremendous job. I’m very pleased with the way he’s been able to handle the position.”
Kunde’s top receiver so far has been senior Dylan Bergez-Scott, who has nine catches for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bruins have been equally dominant.
“We work hard on defense and we spend a lot of time on it,” said Logue.
As a team, Bear River has tallied 10 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, forced seven turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns. They have allowed just 10 points total this season and have yet to allow a team to rush for more than 75 yards in a game.
The same guys that are opening holes on offense are the ones closing them down and wreaking havoc on defense. Baze and Nix lead the team in sacks with three each. Nix also blocked a punt this season.
A pleasant surprise for the Bruins has been the play of senior linebacker Austin Slining, who leads the team in tackles with 25 and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns this season.
“Austin Slining has been a very pleasant surprise,” Logue said. “He couldn’t play last year because of an injury and he’s really stepped up to fill one of those spots.”
In addition to Slining, the Bruins are getting strong linebacker play from Logan Jenkins (21 tackles) and Hunter Daniels (11 tackles).
“Those three guys have really stepped up and done a great job,” said Logue.
The Bruins’ experienced secondary has also been strong as Kunde, Maronic, Bergez-Scott and Colton Jenkins have made it tough for opposing quarterbacks to find success. As a team, the Bruins are allowing an average of 79.3 pass yards per game. Colton Jenkins leads the secondary in interceptions with three.
With a team of just 23 players, it’s truly been a team effort. Nine different Bruins have scored touchdowns this season and every player on the roster has seen significant game time this season.
“The way its turned out, every kid on this team has played a half of football in each game and that’s going to help us down the road if there is an injury or an illness and somebody has to miss,” Logue said. “We got some kids that are really learning and improving every week.”
That will bode well for the Bruins as they near their Pioneer Valley League slate. The PVL has been incredibly strong in non-league play with Bear River (3-0), Colfax (2-0), Center (3-0) and Foothill (2-0) all yet to lose this season. PVL newcomers Lindhurst (2-1) and Marysville (1-2) are the only league teams with a loss this season.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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