Won for Justin: Bear River honors teammate with 14-7 victory
YUBA CITY – It started quietly with Dallen Huetter and Sam Houston somberly carrying the No. 8 jersey of fallen teammate Justin Butler onto the field Friday night before the start of Bear River’s game against River Valley.
It ended with the Dillon Huffman and Sean O’Brien sacking River Valley’s quarterback at midfield and a celebratory roar from the Bear River sidelines after the Bruins downed the Falcons 14-7.
Between the lines, it was a two run-focused offenses and strong defenses from both teams.
Beyond the playing field, Friday’s game was probably one of the toughest in Bear River football history after the team lost Butler, a junior wide receiver/defensive back, in an apparent accidental death Monday morning.
“I’m just so happy for our players,” said an admittedly drained co-head coach Terry Logue. “It would have been so hard to bounce back from a loss (here).”
Sam Houston’s one-yard run into the end zone with 3:27 left in the game and Jack Tortorici’s extra point gave Bear River its final tally, but Butler’s death seemed to weigh heavy on Houston’s mind.
“We came out here and honored our brother,” said Bear River running back Sam Houston. “We’ll never stop forgetting about him. We love Justin Butler.”
Houston led Bruins’ ball carriers with 122 yards on 24 carries. He was followed by Josh Toft who carried the ball for 93 yards on 13 carries and Jimmy Bamburg who carried the ball for 61 yards on eight carries.
Bamburg scored the other Bruins touchdown, a 14-yard run, with 2:12 left in the second quarter.
In between, Bear River fell short a few times despite getting in the red zone, and a Tortorici field goal attempt with 8:01 left in the game also failed to untie the 7-7 knot.
The Bruins looked a little flat footed at the game’s start with the Falcons scoring on two plays after kickoff to take the early 7-0 lead less than 40 seconds into the game.
River Valley came out and used some players and ran some plays the Bruins hadn’t anticipated, Logue said.
“They ran some stuff we hadn’t practiced against,” Logue said. “After that, it was a tremendous defensive effort. It was an absolute team win – every kid on our team.”
Bamburg led the defense with 13 tackles. He was followed by O’Brien with two tackles and two sacks, Quirarte with seven tackles and Huffman with seven tackles and one sack.
When it was all over the Bruins players and fans emptied out onto the field to celebrate an emotional victory as if they had won a playoff game.
Bear River had never played River Valley, which is a relatively new school established in 2005. The Falcons play in the Tri-County League.
The Bruins don’t play next week but follow up Friday’s win with an Oct. 8 game at Placer.
River Valley’s attempt at a two-point conversion failed late in the game and Bear River’s junior varsity squad came out with an emotional one-point win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest, cleanest game, but they showed up after losing their buddy (Butler),” said coach Chris Bean. “I told them they honored (Butler) by playing so hard.”
“It was a crazy game to watch,” Bean said.
River Valley’s two-point conversion was caught outside the endzone and the Bruins got the ball back and ran down the final seconds.
Contact Sports Writer Greg Moberly via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4234.
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