PREP FOOTBALL: Rivals Bear River and Colfax clash Friday night
Know & go
What: Bear River (6-0) vs. Colfax (2-4)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: J. David Ramsey Stadium at Bear River High School
Follow along: On Twitter @TheUnionSports or online at TheUnion.com
The last time Bear River and Colfax met on the gridiron, there was a Sac-Joaquin Section championship on the line. The Bruins won that game, 28-17, at the Lodi Grape Bowl and haven’t lost since.
Tonight, when the two long-time league rivals clash at J. David Ramsey Stadium, the stakes are a bit different.
The Bruins (6-0, 1-0 Pioneer Valley League) will be looking to keep their season record unblemished, and the Falcons (2-4, 0-1 PVL) are looking to keep their playoff hopes alive.
No matter the team records or the season trajectory, this matchup is never an easy one for either team, said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue.
“They are going to give us their best shot,” Logue said. “They always play us tough, no matter what. It’s a good old fashion rivalry.”
The Bruins have won three of the last four matchups with the Falcons, including two last season, but before Bear River’s recent success Colfax dominated the series, winning seven of eight dating back to 2004.
Tonight’s game is a matchup of contrasting styles. The Bruins are a physical team that boasts a stout defense, and a power run game on offense. The Falcons have a high-flying offense that amasses points and yards in bunches, but defensively have struggled to stop opponents from putting up big point totals.
“They are very good at throwing the deep ball,” said Logue. “We don’t want to give up the big play… They also run the ball well with (Lukas) Rineer.”
Colfax’s passing game is spurred along by junior quarterback Austin Weir, who averages 199 passing yards per game to go with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Weir’s favorite target is senior Matthew Harshman, who has 36 receptions for 626 yards and nine touchdowns through six games. Weir also has a big play threat in sophomore receiver Nick Van Doorn (nine catches, 212 yards, one touchdown) and senior transfer Drew Daniels, who returned from a mandatory transfer 30-day sit-out period last week to catch three passes for 19 yards.
On the ground, senior running back Rineer leads the Falcons with 785 rush yards and six touchdowns. Rineer has not been held under 100-yards in a game this season, and averages 5.9 yards per carry.
“(Rineer) plays beyond his body size. He’s not a big kid. 5-foot,7-inches at the tallest and maybe 140 pounds, but when he hits (the hole) he hits it hard. He’s not a slash-and-dasher, he’s more of a power runner than anything else. I’m just amazed at how hard he runs,” said Colfax head coach Tony Martello.
Colfax’s Marc Avila has emerged as a force out of the backfield in the last two games, eating up 147 yards and scoring a touchdown on 22 carries. On the season Avila has 277 yards and two scores.
On average the Falcons score 29.2 points per game.
“They are pretty balanced and Tony (Martello) does a good job of mixing up his plays,” said Logue.
Heading into league play, Martello talked about how strong the Pioneer Valley League is this season, noting that Bear River is as strong as ever.
“Bear River might have the best team that’s ever come through that high school,” he said.
The Bruins have impressed this season, going undefeated to this point despite several injuries to key players.
“We play hard and our kids never give up,” said Logue. “Our schedule has been brutal, and we’ve had some injuries, but kids have stepped up. We lost two star running backs who were also great defenders, but we’ve had that next man up mentality and kids have stepped up to fill those roles.”
With last year’s leading rusher, Kyle Uclaray, being out since week one with a knee injury, and this season’s leading rusher David O’Brien out this week with a broken finger, the Bruins will need the next man to step up once again.
Senior Dave Mastrella (215 rush yards, 11.3 yards per carry, two touchdowns), sophomore Austin Baze (121 yards, four touchdowns) and junior Toran Maronic will likely see more carries for the Bear River offense that has averaged 29 points per game.
Logue added that senior linebacker and fullback Beau Bagget, who was an all-league linebacker with Colfax a season ago but transferred to Bear River this season, will also see more action out of the backfield.
On defense is where the Bruins set themselves apart from the pack. They have playmakers on every level and have kept teams in check all season, allowing just 14.8 points per game.
Bear River gets after the quarterback, averaging two sacks per game, and has a ball hawking secondary which has five interceptions this season. Leading the defensive effort is senior outside linebacker Gunner Simpson with a team-high 35 tackles and five sacks. Linebacker Connor Hollister (28 tackles), defensive lineman Jimmy Vaughn (27 tackles, two sacks), defensive lineman Landen Clark (14 tackles, sack), safety Mastrella (23 tackles, interception) and defensive back Kyle Wooner (22 tackles, interception) are all playmakers on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Colfax’s defense has not been nearly as good, allowing 30 points per game this season.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at J. David Ramsey Stadium at Bear River High School.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com. Spencer Kellar contributed to this report.
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