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What lies ahead

Brian Shepard
Special to The Union
Bear River had to rally late to beat Eureka at home last season. The Bruins travel to face the Loggers this year.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

As the days of summer pass us by and the temperature heats up, so does the anticipation and the hype for the upcoming 2014 Bear River football season.

No doubt the Bruins are eager to avenge last year’s crusade when they began red hot, coming out of the gates 5-0, but finished 1-4 in Pioneer Valley League play and missed the playoffs. The taste of defeat doesn’t sit well with any team and after an offseason of hard work, dedication and hours and hours of practice it’s going to be exciting to see what this year’s squad is all about.

Co-head coaches Scott Savoie and Terry Logue will most definitely have their hands full with another grueling slate of PVL matchups in the second half of the season, but that’s what it’s all about. Winning isn’t supposed to be easy and if anyone can rally the guys and make believers it’s them.

The Bruins’ 2014 schedule is packed full of challenges and hard-nosed competition, with seven of its 10 opponents having made the playoffs last year, but now it’s a new dawn for Bear River, with a roster full of fresh faces and roles to be filled. There’s a lot of questions yet to be answered, but what we do know is that the table has been set. Here’s a glance into five must-see games.

Bear River at Eureka, Oct. 3

BruinNation, if you haven’t done so already, arrange a carpool and book a hotel in Eureka. The Bruins are making the near-300-mile trek up north to the water’s edge of the Pacific blue, and it promises to be a showdown. Last year the Loggers made the journey to J. David Ramsey Field and fell behind the Bruins 21-0, but roared back in the second half to take a 23-21 lead only to surrender the game-winning drive in a thrilling fourth quarter as the Bruins won 27-23. It may have taken Eureka a couple quarters to get loose, but they sprung to life. If Bear River wants to enjoy its long bus ride home, then it needs to hit the field running because the Loggers want this one bad.

Bear River at Colfax, Oct. 17

The rivalry speaks for itself and the atmosphere is as electric as ever, but on the road in this type of environment the Bruins will take every cheer and bounce they can get. When these two squads hook up there’s more than just a win or loss on the line, it’s bragging rights and also, just plain fun for everyone. The Falcons won last year’s contest 28-21 and were also a perfect 7-0 at home so it’s going to be a tall task. This game will also mark the beginning of a daunting four-game stretch for the Bruins against PVL elites so a victory here would be a huge step in the right direction. Bear River will need to win at least two league games if it hopes to qualify for a playoff spot and will likely already have one in its back pocket after playing Foothill Oct. 10.

Bear River at Placer, Oct. 24

A week after clashing with Colfax, the Bruins will head down Hwy 49 and battle Placer. The Hillmen crushed the Bruins 49-7 in a laugher last season. After an early touchdown to get the Bruins back into it, the wheels suddenly came off as the team yielded 449 yards rushing for the game. Bear River’s defense is going to need to dig deep and buckle down. Limiting turnovers and maintaining a high-energy level might just give the Bruins enough of an edge to stun the Hillmen, but throwing in the towel early isn’t an option. This will be an extreme test of physicality and drive for whichever team wants it more.

Bear River vs. Center, Oct. 31

There’s nothing scarier than playing on Halloween night, especially when it’s against the Cougars. Outscored 70-7 by Center the past two seasons, Bear River clearly needs to shake things up a bit when it faces the 2013 defending PVL champions. The Bruins were haunted by Center’s relentless defense in last year’s contest as it forced six Bruin turnovers. Offensively the Cougars also imposed their will, picking apart Bear River both on the ground and through the air. However, unlike last season where the Bruins wrapped up with three consecutive road games, this year Bear River finishes with a pair of contests under its home lights with Center being the first of the two.

Bear River vs. Lincoln, Nov. 7

How fitting is it that Bear River hosts the Fighting Zebras and former junior varsity head coach Chris Bean for the season finale? This could quite possibly be the making of the PVL’s newest, most riveting rivalry. The fact that it’s the last game of the season means there’s likely potential for playoffs to be on the line too. Bean excelled in creating a fine-tuned machine while with the Bear River program, laying a solid foundation for Savoie and Logue when players reached the varsity level. Now he and Lincoln will go up against the successful talent that he helped brew. The Bruins faced a must-win game at Lincoln last year and came up empty, 42-7. Fireworks just might go off when this one is over.

Bear River kicks off with a preseason scrimmage Aug. 23 against Nevada Union and Mesa Verde.

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

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