PREP FOOTBALL: Undefeated Bear River travels to El Dorado for final non-league bout
Special to The Union
KNow & Go
What: Bear River (4-0) at El Dorado (2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: El Dorado High School, 561 Canal St, Placerville
Follow along: On Twitter @TheUnionSports or online at TheUnion.com
After mauling Marysville last week, the 4-0 Bear River Bruins football team will try to remain unbeaten as it closes out its non-league schedule on the road at El Dorado Friday.
“I’m excited,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue after the win over Marysville. “I’ve been watching film on (El Dorado). They got a very good offense, a quarterback that can throw and run, a big running back. We’re going to get tested. Our defense is going to get tested, big time. It’s right before league and I’m really looking forward to it.”
To pass Friday’s test, the Bruins are going to need to slow down the Cougars’ 6-foot, 230-pound senior running back Steven Fox, who has amassed 513 yards and five touchdowns on 74 attempts. Fox already has a pair of 100-plus yard performances this season and averages 171 yards per game. His longest run is just 39 yards, but he’s proven tough to bring down, forging ahead for nearly seven yards per carry.
El Dorado (2-1) defeated Del Mar (San Jose) 48-28, lost at Ponderosa 28-3 and most recently, knocked off Golden Sierra, 40-28. Last season it was Bear River which hosted El Dorado and pulled out a 28-7 victory, rushing for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns.
Like the Bruins, the Cougars offense has had tremendous success with the run, but has also shown the ability to get it done through the air, averaging 240.3 yards rushing and 149.7 yards passing for just over 30 points per game. However, its defense hasn’t been as stingy as that of Bear River, surrendering 28 points per game.
“El Dorado is going to be a handful,” added Bruins co-head coach Scott Savoie. “It will probably be the best offense we’ve faced so far this year. Overall, considering the skilled kids, they spread the field, got a good running back, a quarterback that can run.”
The Cougars rely on a younger arm at the quarterback position, sophomore Danny Bell, who has completed 43 percent of his passes, passing for 449 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His favorite target has been senior Derek Bonniksen, who has eight receptions for 175 yards and a pair of scores. Senior Zach Hebert and junior Tyson Hamburg have also been in the mix, hauling in 13 passes for 236 yards with four touchdowns between them.
Bell has many weapons at his disposal, but the primary choice by far has been Fox. The Cougar offense dictated the tempo in its win over Golden Sierra last week, running the ball 55 times and passing just 12.
Bear River will look to its linebackers and leading tackler, senior Travis Carpenter (31) to stop Fox in his tracks. Kaden Ahlberg, Sam Davis, Logan Jenkins and Lukas Brodie round out the Bruins top-five in tackles this season. Calder Kunde leads the team with three interceptions.
BEVY OF BACKS
Thus far, the Bruins offense has outscored its opponents 146-24, averaging 36.5 points per game while yielding just six per game. Bear River has proven it can move the ball effectively both through the air and in the trenches, but its ground attack has been more potent, averaging 199.3 yards on the ground per game.
Out of the backfield, senior Stephen Taylor has led the charge, tallying 322 yards on 21 touches with four scores. Senior Josh Zimmer has been a key weapon to assist in distributing the load, totaling 107 yards on 21 attempts, followed by junior Clayton Anderson with 96 yards on 17 carries and Hunter Daniels with 84 yards on 13 attempts. Last week, the Bruins added another log to the fire with senior Austin Baze making his return to action as full back, rushing for 47 yards on six carries, including a score.
Senior quarterback Luke Baggett eclipsed 100 yards passing for his second straight game in as many starts, passing for 169 yards, including a touchdown, and making clutch throws to keep the chains moving. His ability to execute timely passes and elude pressure has definitely helped provide a more dynamic look to the Bruins offense and keep defenses on their toes.
“I’m sure we’ll have a good offensive scheme heading into the game,” said Baggett, who has completed 56-percent of his passes this season. “We want to be undefeated going into league and it will help us build momentum going into league.”
Special teams has also been a pleasant surprise for the Bruins this season thanks to the foot of sophomore Alex Bohn, who is tied as the team’s leading scorer with Taylor, each with 30 points. Bohn has booted four field goals on six attempts, including a 40 yarder, and is also 18-of-19 on PAT attempts. The battle for field position has favored Bear River as well with Bohn’s long kickoffs and punts, forcing opponents to go the distance.
The Bruins and Cougars get things started at 7:30 p.m. Friday in El Dorado.
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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