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Challenges loom deep in the PVL slate

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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Continuing a look at Placer’s football schedule from last week, this week’s column will focus on the demanding final four games of the season. At Bear River: The Bruins are loaded with experienced, quality athletes. Cole White, last years’ Pioneer Valley League Defensive Player of the Year, returns. White, an insider linebacker on defense and a fullback on offense, leads a talented group of seniors. Returning running back Johnny Jewett will be a major component of Bear River’s typical power run game. Inexperience in the form of sophomore quarterback James Harris could be a possible drawback for the Bruins. However, the Placer-Bear River game has evolved into quite a rivalry, and with any rivalry, emotion will play a major part of the outcome. Bear River’s seniors were undefeated as freshman and sophomores, but had a disappointing first round loss to Dixon in the playoffs last year. A victory over Placer would go a long way in helping the Bruins reach the playoffs again, but beating Placer might be out of reach for this year’s team. Lincoln: The Fightin’ Zebras are coming off a 1-9 season. It will be too much to ask of any program to turn around this quickly. The one advantage Lincoln has in the Pioneer Valley League is its size. Lincoln’s enrollment of around 1,700 students makes it one of the biggest schools in the league. Only Whitney has an enrollment that can match Lincoln. With this size comes the outside chance of fielding a team that can knock off some of the perennial league powers, but it will not happen this year. Colfax: Mark your calendars for Friday, Nov. 6. In just a three-year period, the Placer-Colfax game has become an intense rivalry. Setting aside the bizarre legal events that enveloped last year’s game, and that is difficult to do, the game has become a titanic battle between two outstanding football programs. Under coach Tony Martello, Colfax has been the dominant team in the Pioneer Valley League. Colfax’s run of 11 continuous appearances in the playoffs ended last year as its bus headed down for a playoff game at Oakdale. Placer’s program, after last year’s win, can now compete toe-to-toe with the Falcons. Adding to the rivalry is the shared years of adolescent competition between the athletes of both schools. These players have competed with one another since early grade school, and it reaches its zenith as these players don their respective school jerseys. Both schools will be looking for some serious bragging rights in the foothills. At Whitney: From this perspective, the winner of this game will be the Pioneer Valley League champion. The importance of this game is manifested by the new CIF playoff format. The league champion will be seeded against a lower ranked team in the first round of the playoffs, in theory making for an easy first round game. Coming off a 13-0 season, the Wildcats have become one of the premier football programs in the greater Sacramento area. Head coach Mike Gimenez, who was also successful at Woodland High before bolting for Whitney, created the program from the ground up. Both Placer and Whitney are starting new quarterbacks, but by this late in the season inexperience should not be an excuse. This game is another must-see for the high school football fan. Week 1-Pioneer Valley League: Placer’s convincing rout of Rosemont was all the more impressive as the Hillmen had six starters out for the game. If I had not been at the game and saw the Colfax jerseys, I would have been hard-pressed to believe this was actually Colfax High on the field. Known for throwing the ball, Martello and his Falcons showed a stellar run game with Pat Rawlins and Josh Moreno. The passing game was an afterthought against Center. Bear River’s loss to Capital Christian was a mild surprise, but when a team suffers through three interceptions as Bear River did, it’s hard to win. Lincoln picked up a surprising win over Woodland and Mesa Verde edged out perennial loser Mira Loma. El Dorado was thumped by Union Mine, and Whitney had a bye after beating Fernley High of Nevada the week before.