Bruins take heavy hearts to River Valley
After one of the toughest weeks the Bear River High football program has ever endured, the team will visit Yuba City for a game that will be an emotional test as much as a physical struggle.
Bear River junior Justin Butler died early Monday morning in his Lake of the Pines home – the result of what Nevada County Sheriff’s office called a “very tragic accident.” Butler’s parents said they believe he may have been playing the “choking game.”
Bear River coaches and players had a tough time moving on after losing the popular wide receiver. The team cancelled practice Monday. Most of the players were back on the field Tuesday, getting ready to face a tough River Valley squad, but it was not easy.
“Football was way down on the list of priorities,” Bear River co-head coach Scott Savoie said. “We’ve got to take care of the kids first. We let them know if they weren’t ready to play, they were excused. Wednesday we had a good practice and our focus seems to be back today.
“Time heals for sure, but it’s been a heck of a week for our kids, our community and our school.”
The Bruins will wear at No. 8 sticker on their helmets to honor Butler’s memory. Baer River lost to Woodcreek 35-7 last Friday in Roseville, with Butler scoring the Bruins’ lone touchdown.
River Valley is dangerous. The Falcons (3-1) are coming off of a 41-13 win over Capital Christian last Friday and their only loss is to Foothill of Redding — one of the top teams in the Northern Section.
River Valley uses a balanced rushing attack that is averaging 275 yards per game. Seniors Dustin Terrell (6-0, 225) and Colin Gault (6-0, 170) lead the way. Terrell and Gault are also key players on a defense that is averaging five sacks per game and has forced 11 turnovers in four games.
Bear River will look to get its offense going after the Timberwolves stifled it last week. The Bruins managed 194 yards on 50 rushing attempts and passed for 58 yards as a team. Turnovers have plagued Bear River in its last two games.
Savoie said he believes it will be good for the Bruins to get back on the field after a trying week.
“I think it’s good to get going again,” Savoie said. “Our kids know that Justin would want us to be playing, getting back on track and healing. But Justin was a great kid and a valuable part of our football team. The kids really miss him.”
Oakmont (0-3) at Del Oro (1-3)
The Golden Eagles are hurting after two lopsided losses, but they’re hoping to rebound with the first of three straight home games.
Coach Casey Taylor would not commit to naming a starting quarterback as of Wednesday. Senior starter Mason Magleby was removed in the second quarter of last week’s loss at Oak Ridge. Bobby Heatherington entered and helped spark the Del Oro offense.
“We’ll see. We got in good work for both QBs today in practice and we feel like it’s kind of open right now,” Taylor said. “I’m not real sure who’s going to start on Friday. We were really happy with the way Bob (Heatherington) played on Friday.”
The Golden Eagles are also hoping to address their defensive struggles this week. They’ve given up big yardage on the ground in the past two games while Oak Ridge and Clovis West piled up a combined 91 points.
“We need better tackling… and the little things like getting in spots,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to play harder and we’ve got to make tackles. We felt like we didn’t tackle real well and Oak Ridge took advantage and made some big plays.”
Del Oro will return to Loomis for its first official home game. The Eagles hosted Bullard in the Battle at the Capital on Sept. 4.
“We’re really happy to be at home,” Taylor said. “We know we’ve played some good teams. We feel like if we can get past Oakmont we have a week off to heal up and then we start league off with two home games.”
Placer (2-1) at Woodland (2-1)
The Hillmen look to recover from their first loss of the season as they visit the Wolves, who also suffered their first defeat last Friday night.
Placer coach Joey Montoya is very familiar with the Woodland program – having coached against the Wolves for several years when he was at rival Pioneer.
“I’m sure they’ll be fired up to face a former Pioneer coach,” Montoya said.
The Hillmen were tripped up by Casa Roble 41-33 at Le Febvre Stadium last Friday night while. Woodland fell to El Camino, 32-21.
Junior John Morris is a playmaker on defense for the Wolves, averaging more than 14 tackles per game. Senior Damien Borel (6-3, 245) is a terror on the defensive line with six sacks already this year.
Terrin Foster is dangerous running the ball in Woodland’s spread offense. Montoya called junior Dalen Jones a Division I-caliber receiver and senior Clay Gordon is a dual threat at quarterback.
“They create conflicts with their offense,” Montoya said. “And on defense they’re very physical. They play hard.”
Placer will be missing a couple of key linemen in the non-league contest. Senior defensive end Zach Scott fractured his hand in the Casa Roble game and will be out. Zach Winegar, who missed last week’s contest, will be out two more weeks with a strained chest muscle.
The Hillmen will welcome back sophomore fullback Michael Robinson, who was sidelined with a strained calf muscle last week.
Davis (1-2) at Colfax (2-1)
After a welcomed bye week, the Falcons will host the Division I Blue Devils in the first of three straight games on their home turf.
Colfax will look to junior quarterback Austin Young and senior fullback Tommy Baldoni to spark the offense. Young has 683 passing yards in three games, hooking up often with senior receiver Chase Mosier. Baldoni leads the team with 138 rushing yards despite missing one game with a concussion.
Davis is led by tailback Courtney Williams, who is averaging 6.47 yards per carry this season. The Blue Devlis have lost to Sacramento and Will C. Wood after beating Armijo in their season opener.
Colfax lost to Union Mine 21-7 on Sept. 10.
Woodland Christian (1-2) at Foresthill (2-2)
After a big 6-3 win over Valley Christian last week, the Wildfires look to improve to 3-0 in the Sacramento Metro Athletic League with a home game against the Cardinals.
Jace Pack has been a spark for the Wildfires with his team-best three touchdowns. Colton Rhone has run the ball well and quarterback Travis Wilburn has made big plays.
The Foresthill defense was stellar in the win over Valley Christian as senior linebacker Alex Harley led the charge.