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Hillmen’s redemption tour begins at Bear River

Prep football primer
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The bitter taste of a disastrous 24 minutes of football is tough to rinse from the mouths of Placer High’s senior football players. Bear River blasted Placer 35-14 last season thanks to a 21-0 advantage in the second half. The loss came about 24 hours after the Hillmen learned they would have to forfeit three wins due to the use of an ineligible player. Of course, the forfeits were later overturned and the Hillmen went on to a spectacular postseason. But the beating at LeFebvre Stadium at the hands of the Bruins was a crushing blow at the time and Placer would like nothing more than to return the favor tonight at Lake of the Pines. Bear River (3-3 overall, 0-2 Pioneer Valley League) is fighting to stay in the playoff race. The Bruins may need wins in their final four games to make the postseason. Josh Klem and his teammates won’t fully admit that revenge is on their minds. “Maybe a little bit,” Placer’s senior captain said. “But we’re just trying to stay focused and stick to our gameplan.” A big part of the Hillmen’s gameplan will be neutralizing Cole White — on both sides of the ball. The 5-11, 215-pound senior was the defensive MVP in the Pioneer Valley League last season and is a tackling machine again this year with 89 tackles in just six games. “He just has a great nose for the ball,” Klem said of the fellow linebacker. “Wherever the play’s going, he finds a way to get there.” White is also a big part of the Bear River offense, averaging more than 81 yards rushing per game and operating out of the “Wildcat” offense on occasion. Fellow senior Johnny Jewett chips in with 72 yards per game. The Bruins do not hide their offensive intentions. “They’re a very good smashmouth team,” Klem said. “They’ll try to run it down your throat.” “They run it very well and play good defense – it’s kind of your standard Bear River team,” Placer coach Joey Montoya added. Placer is willing to battle in the trenches this season. The Hillmen have muscle up front with Jarrad Weaver, Jake Turney, Art Gayduchik and Michael Gray. Junior Caleb Mitchell has played well at middle linebacker and is surrounded by seniors Garrett Lenz and Klem. The secondary is full of athletes, led by Asher Gotzmer and Cameron Southward. The Placer offense is balanced and explosive. Asher Gotzmer could go over the 1,000-yard mark tonight and will be looking to build on his 16 touchdowns on the year. Fullback Josh Turney leads the team in carries with 86 (14.3 per game) and has 10 touchdowns. Dalton Dyer averages over 93 yards rushing per game. Junior quarterback Collin Burnett is quietly having a superb season. He’s thrown for six touchdowns and has just one interception. Burnett’s quarterback rating of 133 is among the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Placer’s weapons are ideal for the Wing-T offense. “It helps that we’ve got three very good running backs to get the ball to,” Montoya said. “Collin Burnett is playing like a seasoned veteran and he’s only going to get better.” Roseville (2-4) at Del Oro (6-0) The Golden Eagles welcome the struggling Tigers to town in their final home game of the year and fifth in a row. The Tigers had won two games in a row before opening Sierra Foothill League play with a loss at Oakmont last week. Meanwhile Del Oro edged Granite Bay in overtime in an epic SFL opener. Junior quarterback Nick Blaser is averaging nearly 250 yards passing per game for Roseville. Blaser spreads the ball around, but his two main targets are senior Matt Hack and junior Beau Smith. Del Oro continues to pound the ball with senior Bryce Pratt. He had 222 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries against the Grizzlies. El Dorado (2-4) at Colfax (4-2) The Falcons can bolster their chances at a playoff berth with a home win over the Cougars, who were blown out by Lincoln last week. Colfax will focus on stopping El Dorado senior Chris Haskins, who is averaging 167 yards per game. He did not play against the Zebras. The Falcons will attack on the ground as well, with senior Pat Rawlins leading the way. He’s churning out 141 yards per game and has 10 touchdowns on the year. Foresthill (4-2) at Vacaville Christian (4-2) The Wildfires will look to resume their playoff push after a humbling loss to Bradshaw Christian last Friday. Colton Rhone leads the Foresthill offense at running back while linebacker Jake Henry heads the defense. The Falcons feature sophomore running back James Aarhus, who averages 8.2 yards per carry. Encina (0-6) at Golden Sierra (0-6) The Grizzlies are gunning for their first victory of the season against the winless Bulldogs in Garden Valley. Golden Sierra is also hoping to earn its first win on its new turf field.