PREP FOOTBALL: Success breeds success — Bruins hungry for new season |

PREP FOOTBALL: Success breeds success — Bruins hungry for new season

Bear River quarterback Jason Voter, middle, hands the ball to Kyle Uclaray during the Sac-Joaquin Section D-V Championship game last year. This summer the Bruins have been hard at work and are looking to repeat as champs.
John Hart/ | The Union

Nothing quite compares to the sweet taste of a championship season.

The Bear River football team had the luxury of savoring that flavor this offseason. It’s hard to believe eight months have gone by since its 28-17 come-from-behind victory over Colfax in the title game, but now, in the midst of summer workouts and conditioning, the time for a fresh start has all but arrived.

“There’s lots of excitement,” said Bruins co-head coach Terry Logue, whose championship season was also highlighted by eclipsing the 200 career-win milestone. “Personally I’m usually the last person to think we’re good, but it’s hard to not to think we’re going to be decent (this year).”

Bear River, which went 11-2, 4-1 Pioneer Valley League in 2014, knows the importance of not lulling itself into a mindset of familiarity. Crafting another championship season starts from the ground up and begins with dedication and positive attitudes on the practice field. This summer has been no exception.

“We’re not sitting back expecting it,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie during a phone interview earlier this week. “Our guys have been working their tails off. This has been the best summer, looking at commitment and attitude. We’ve done weight training, practices, conditioning and we had a lot of 101-percenters who didn’t miss anything. Typically there’s like 12 to 15, but this summer we had 24.”

Player attendance for offseason workouts has also been remarkable when compared to prior years. Surely, it’s easier to get fired up and go to work when potential has surfaced. What were once hopes of making a deep playoff run have become a collaborative expectation with the team breeding its own confidence.

“Twenty-four kids out of 40 never missed a day,” reiterated Logue, who also mentioned that the team has installed 85-90 percent of what it’s going to use. “We took the 24 out for steak n’ eggs at Mels.”

Protein-packed and ready to roll, opponents will not likely be caught off-guard. Respect was most certainly earned by the Bruins last season, and although winning the D-V title was exhilarating, there’s no doubt that the squad will be just as hungry when it takes the field to begin the journey toward defending it.

“We haven’t really talked about our goals yet,” explained Logue. “We have a brutal schedule so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s still in your mind, but it’s been a long time since we climbed that last rung in the ladder. Once you taste it, you want to go back.”

Instead of the Bruins’ usual summer trek over Donner Pass to football camp in Reno, Savoie and Logue opted to try something a little different this offseason, a top-tier tournament in Morro Bay widely known as, “Bash at the Beach,” which turned out to be a beneficial in more ways than one.

“We had a great experience at Morro Bay,” said Savoie, who chose the passing league tournament to abide by Gov. Jerry Brown’s no-padded summer football camp policy. “We elected not to do a padded camp. We’re not about loopholes. We’ll let the dust settle for a year. It was a great way to kick-off summer. We all stayed in tents and camped at the beach. The linemen even played in a seven-on-seven game on the beach. They all walked away buddies. We try to accomplish two things at camp, one is to evaluate personnel and two, is team-building.”

There’s a direct correlation with player relationships off the field and how building cohesiveness helps create better performances on the field. Considering building relationships, there’s just not a much better time or place than at the beach during summer break. The Bruins even got to play against Logue’s son, Matt Logue, who coaches Selma. Bear River won that particular game, but Selma eventually went on to the championship where it lost to Bakersfield, according to Savoie.

“The tournament at Morro Bay had 36 teams and we finished eighth,” added Logue. “We got baptized a little bit. Ben O’Lena had 23 touchdowns in eight games. I think he was counting.”

Another treat that awaits Bear River and Bruin Nation this fall has already taken root to J. David Ramsey Field. Fresh Bermuda sod now lines the field, endzone to endzone, as far as the eye can see, ready for cleats to clash and bodies to rumble. It’s just one more reason to get excited about playing under the Friday night lights with all the comforts of home.

“All brand new Bermuda sod,” said Logue. “It probably won’t get touched until our first home game Week 3. It’s gorgeous, beautiful grass. It’ll get chewed up a bit, but the roots are there so it comes back faster.”

Bear River is currently enjoying one final break and will resume practice Aug. 10 as it preps for its season opener Aug. 28 at Pacheco (Los Banos).

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

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