Zuri Berry: Restoring balance to Bruin football
This year is all about getting the monkey of their backs.
And with the way things have changed, this year might be Bear River’s best chance to do it.
The Bruins Pioneer Valley League football season opens up this year dramatically different than the last five years ” or since they’ve moved into the PVL. They’ll be traveling to Colfax for the league opener, after playing the Falcons in Week 10 since anyone around here can remember.
Co-head coach Terry Logue thinks this might help take the pressure of his Bruins, who have been known recently to have mental lapses on defensive schemes and blocking assignments when the gang green is present.
The pressure has gotten so bad, Colfax fans started taunting the Bruins by questioning whether or not it was still a rivalry after winning six straight years. Last year’s 28-0 loss made it to seven.
I can still remember the chants: “Just like last year! … Just like last year!!”
“Obviously, they’ve kind of owned us the last five or six years,” Logue said. “It’s funny because we pretty much dominated them in the ’90s.”
He’s right. Even though the Bruins have lost the last seven straight, Colfax only leads the all-time series 11-9. Last year was supposed to be the year the Bruins brought back balance and restored order in the world ” at least in South County.
“That was just a real disappointing game,” said Logue, recalling last season’s loss. “We had several chances. We dropped an interception and right after that they broke a screen play for 70 yards. I was just disappointed. It’s one thing to lose, but last year we didn’t play up to our potential. Again, I hope playing them early in the year takes away some of that pressure on our kids.”
The casual observer might believe that whether the Bruins play the Falcons in Week 10 or Week 4, it won’t change the end result.
But I disagree strongly.
Bear River is known as a well-prepared team. The program prides itself on its readiness in the presesaon and often racks up the wins before steamrolling through the PVL. But it’s also a time in the season in which the players are still getting acclimated to the season and the week-to-week grind of school in addition to football.
It’s so much of a learning curve that it kind of deflates the steam of a season-long buildup.
The pressure was not only intense, it was wild and uncontrolled. The players weren’t making plays and there was nothing anyone could do about it because they were filled with passion rather than focus.
Without the long march toward Colfax, the same blind hype will still be there, but it will be diluted enough for the players to reign in their emotions and handle their business.
That’s all these players need to do in order to tip the scale.
Add to the fact that this class of Bear River players hasn’t lost in two years at the junior varsity level ” a feat which speaks highly about either their coaching, program or talent.
I’d say all three.
There won’t be much change otherwise.
“Really, nothing as far as our approach,” said Logue ,when asked what will be different this year. “Just because we’ve been losing to Colfax doesn’t mean we’re not a winning program. We have 20-straight winning seasons. We’re gonna continue on doing the same things we’ve always done. We’ll probably be a run-oriented team. Those things aren’t going to change.
“But we do have a totally new schedule with new teams,” he continued. “Colfax goes from Week 10 to Week 4 and I hope that’ll keep the pressure off.”
Yeah, and with that relief, maybe some balance will be restored in South County.
Zuri Berry is a sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. You can contact Zuri via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
Read more about Bear River’s football program in The Union’s football insert Sept. 5.
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