PREP FOOTBALL: Bear River hammers Highlands, advances in D6 playoffs (PHOTO GALLERY)
Special to The Union
The most points ever scored in Bear River football history — that’s how the Bruins began their Sac-Joaquin Section D6 playoff run Friday night at J. David Ramsey Stadium.
Bear River’s defense brought the pressure up front which led to four first half interceptions, and the offense imposed its will, banging through the trenches en route to a 64-26 first round victory over the No. 10 seed Highlands Scots.
“We all had fire in our heads,” said Colton Jenkins, a sure-handed senior whose two interceptions were cashed in for points with a Ryder Kiggins touchdown and a Cade Torgerson field goal which put the No. 7 Bruins up 17-0 in the first quarter. “We were all silent in the locker room. I saw in everyone’s eyes that they were so ready to come out and play this game.”
It was a collective effort by Bear River, which rushed for 276 yards coming on the cleats of nine different ball carriers. Kiggins plowed in for the team’s first two scores, set up nicely thanks to a Jenkins pick and a Scots botched snap on a punt attempt. Kiggins ran the ball six times for 57 yards and a pair of scores.
Senior Tre Maronic didn’t waste much time gettimg in on the defensive fun as he made his presence felt with a 35-yard pick-six for a 24-0 advantage late in the first quarter.
“The whole week we were really worried about (Highlands) because of their athleticism and their speed,” said Maronic, who finished 4-of-5 passing for 57 yards on offense and recorded the pick-six before sitting out in the second half. “We worked on defense the whole week and our kickoff team, which was really needed. But our defense stepped up and made a bunch of big plays. Colton had a hell of a game.”
Jenkins rushed four times for 33 yards, including a 32-yard sprint for a score, and also broke loose up the sideline for a 75-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second half to shoot down any Scots comeback hopes. Jaime Vargas, Jacob Ayestaran and Joe Knowlton each found paydirt in the second quarter as the Bruins rode a 45-6 lead into halftime.
“Tremendous first half, just tremendous,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue, who had lots of praise for his players. “Colton Jenkins, one of the best games anybody’s ever had at Bear River High School — all around game, interceptions, kickoff returns, touchdowns. Tre had a great first half, once we got ahead we definitely wanted to save him for next week.”
Highlands senior quarterback Chrichion Brown aired out some big plays down the stretch finishing 20-of-38 passing for 374 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. The offense didn’t really begin clicking until the second half, where he connected on scores of 58, 67 and 35 yards, tallying 300 yards in the half alone.
Yet, the Bear River defense remained stout when it needed to and often the Bruins had an answer on the offensive end, scoring on all but two of its second half possessions.
“I think getting off to a good start was a huge piece here,” said Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie. “You saw the second half, how dangerous these guys are … We’re up huge in the first half, but you saw how fast they could score… I think that was the key, not giving them any life in the first half.”
Rounding out the offensive attack for Bear River was Vargas, who ran for 59 yards on 11 attempts and a score. Ayestaran tallied 32 yards on seven touches and a touchdown. Zach Fink bulldozed for 20 yards on one carry. Knowlton weaved his way up field for 39 yards on three carries and slipped tackles to break free for two touchdowns.
The Scots were stopped in their tracks when it came to moving the ball on the ground, rushing 19 times for -16 yards.
Gavin Jackson wrapped up a team-high nine tackles, followed by Jenkins, who had eight tackles and the two interceptions. Fink wreaked havoc by applying pressure up the middle, finishing with seven tackles, including two for a loss and 1 1/2 sacks. Warren Davis tallied four tackles and split a sack, followed by Wyatt Baze with three tackles and a shared sack. Joey Monasterio had three passes defended and a pair of tackles. Tyler Dzioba hauled in an interception after deflecting a pass, which eventually led to a touchdown.
Next up, Bear River (8-3) hits the road for its stiffest test of the year, a bout with the defending D6 state champ and No. 2 seed Hilmar Yellowjackets (9-1).
Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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