Bruins were bruising

Looking back at 2008-09: Bear River
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Many thought the Bear River High football team was too young and too inexperienced to contend for a Pioneer Valley League title last fall. After an 8-3 season and a second place finish in the ultra-competitive league, the Bruins left no doubt about their talent, or their toughness. Bear River used the powerful Jason Varni and Cole White in the backfield alongside speedster Johnny Jewett as it churned out nearly 2,600 rushing yards. Tanner Mathias was a tight end as a junior, but he stepped in at quarterback and turned in a fine season. Mathias completed better than 64 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Senior Garrett Barbic earned all-PVL honors for his work at receiver. Barbic caught 53 passes for 803 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bruins lost to eventual section champion Whitney on Oct. 17 before reeling off four straight victories. Their finest performance of the season came in enemy territory on Oct. 24. Bear River shut down Placer’s explosive offense in the second half on its way to a 35-14 win at Le Febvre Stadium. In the first round o the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, Bear River visited Dixon. The Rams’ came with some stellar defense of their own to win 28-14. The Bruins were stopped on fourth down in their own territory late in the second half as Dixon locked up the win. “We win that battle most of the time, but we lost it tonight,” Bear River coach Scott Savoie said after the game. “It was a gamble on our part, but we felt like we needed it to get our offense going. “We had a great season,” the coach added. “Our guys played tough throughout the season. I’m very proud of ‘em.” The Bear River volleyball team was much improved under first-year coach Matt McDonald. The Bruins took fourth in the PVL and finished 21-13 overall, just missing out on a playoff berth. The Bruin boys soccer team hung tough in the PVL playoff race before losing six of its final seven games of the season. The highlight of the year was a 3-1 win over Placer at home on Sept. 24. On the cross country trail, sophomores Denise Julian and Breanne Mitchell led a resurgence. The Bruins took second at the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV championships as Julian took second and Mitchell third. Jennifer Marso, Seaera Moe and Abby Grebe also ran strong for Bear River, which will bring its entire team back next fall.