Road to redemption
Both Bear River and its Week 3 opponent, Pleasant Valley (Chico), have had seven days and six nights to stew over just what went wrong the Friday before.
Versus host Woodcreek (Roseville), the Bruin defense struggled against the run, while its offense turned the ball over four times in a 34-14 loss.
“We’re trying to learn from the mistakes we made last week, and we made many,” Bruin (1-1 overall) head coach Scott Savoie said.
The Vikings, a Northern Section Division I playoff team in 2003, had their chances in their league opener on the road against defending section D-I champ Paradise, but fell 22-13.
“That was a game we definitely felt like we should have won, so a key for us is if we can bounce back from that,” Pleasant Valley (2-1, 0-1 Eastern Athletic League) head coach Sterling Jackson said. “Paradise is our big rival, so we definitely want to avoid a letdown after such an emotional game.”
Each squad will look to get back in the win column when they square off at Pleasant Valley’s place Friday, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s a great place to see a football game. You’re right on top of the action,” Savoie said. “It’s their home opener and I guess they’re expecting 4,000 or 5,000 people to be there.”
“This is a major challenge for us. Going on the road, being someone’s home opener,” Savoie added. “They’ve been on the road for three weeks, so (I know) they’re excited to play in front of the home crowd.”
The Vikings’ run-first, ask-questions-later, multi-set offense sports a pair of game-breakers with tailbacks Anthony Fernandez (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and Ian Taylor (5-9, 165).
Fernandez, a senior, sliced and diced both the Oroville and Las Plumas (Oroville) defenses for a combined 262 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns in the Vikings’ first two games of the season.
Taylor, a junior, racked up a total 157 yards on 21 totes with three scores in the same span.
“They’ve both got quicks. They’re the kind of running backs who can take an inside lead and bounce it outside for a 50-yard run,” Savoie said. “They’re offensive line isn’t that big, but they’re disciplined and scrappy.”
If the Bruin defense succeeds in corralling Fernandez and Taylor, the Vikings always have the arm of quarterback Marcos Vaccaro (6-2, 180) to fall back on.
The senior, who threw for 175 yards on 10-of-25 passing and two scores versus Paradise, is comfortable both in the pocket and on the run.
“They’re definitely a run-oriented team, but they’re (not shy about) passing the ball,” Savoie said.
His favorite targets so far this season have been a trio of seniors in wide receivers Ryan Groom (6-4, 190) and Garrett Hamilton, along with tight end Brian Daugherty (6-0, 180) as well junior wide receiver Taylor Clements (5-9, 145).
Clements but had four catches for 87 yards and both of the Vikings’ touchdowns last week.
“He’s is one of their kids who has impressed me the most,” Savoie said. “He’s (not the biggest guy), but he’s one heck of a player.”
Jackson has pored over Bear River game films, but admits he won’t really know what his team’s up against until the opening whistle.
“It’s hard to compare our teams, we’re from a different section and don’t know much about either Center or Woodcreek,” he said. “But one thing I know that they’ve got a really good running game. Their offensive line can really get off the ball.”
“(David Wheeler’s) a very elusive runner and their quarterback, although his arm doesn’t have a lot of power, he (can be accurate). Plus he’s got a lot of mobility when he gets out of the pocket,” Jackson added.
Jackson will look to senior linebackers Blake Schwarz (6-1, 220), who tallied a team-high nine tackles versus Las Plumas, and Nathan Pillsbury (5-9, 190) to put a helmet to Wheeler and Co.
Jackson said Taylor and Clements will also have to play a key role if his boys will have a chance to grab a win.
“Defensively, we have to try to put Bear River in situations they’re unfamiliar with. Say if they start off running the ball, try to do something to get them out of it.”
“Like in any football game, our goal is to try to get the momentum on our side and keep it there,” he added.
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Another week on the track and another win for Brad Sweet.