Hillmen swing toward title

Placer still unbeaten after key match at Bear River as three players shoot under 40
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — Bear River High’s tricky home golf course has tripped up more than a few visiting teams over the years. The sharp doglegs and jarring elevation changes can throw even the most experienced player for a loop. Placer coach Greg French could only pace nervously at the ninth hole as his team tackled the tough course and a talented Bruins’ squad Tuesday afternoon. The Hillmen aced the mid-season test and the reward was a ticket to the postseason. “We knew if we won today we were for sure going to the playoffs,” said junior Rob Schauble, who was just two shots over par with a 37. “The playoffs were our biggest goal, so this was an important match. We had a practice round a few days ago and it’s a tricky course, but that practice really helped.” Placer improved to 7-0 in the Pioneer Valley League with the win and inched closer to its first league championship in more than 20 years. It took a tremendous day for the Hillmen to hold off the Bruins. Three Placer players shot under 40 as the visitors scored a 208 as a team and beat the Bruins by eight strokes. Junior Ryan Holden and sophomore Austin Childress both shot 38s to give the Hillmen a big lift. “We had three guys in the 30s, which was definitely big,” Holden said. “We just came out ready to play, knowing we needed to stay undefeated to look for the league title.” Bear River’s Anthony Ertola shot a 40 while Kyle Nelson, Roderick Bell and Jake DePass carded 44s for the Bruins, who dropped to 5-2 in the PVL. Placer’s team is an unheralded bunch that has toiled in the shadows of Colfax in recent years. The Falcons have dominated the PVL with stars like Colby Smith and Patrick Bauer earning headlines. The Hillmen have quietly taken control of the league race. Schauble is the team’s quiet leader. Holden has emerged as a consistent player while Joseph Greenlee, Kyle Sproul and Childress have all had moments of brilliance. “I think some of the younger players have put in more time and we’re starting to build more of a program, a dynasty,” Holden said. “I think Placer golf’s looking like it’s on the rise.” French is excited about not only this season, but also the years to come with the talent he’s got waiting in the wings. A fresh crop of freshman players practices each day and is playing exhibition matches this spring to gain experience. Schauble, who has played on the varsity squad since his freshman year, said the Hillmen are determined to make the most of their opportunity this spring. “This year we started actually setting goals and that probably helped us quite a bit,” Schauble said. “We’re working hard. Most of us practice year-round. A league title would mean a lot. We’ve lost to Colfax the last few years, so winning the title would mean a lot.” Though their galleries are often just a couple of dedicated parents and their veteran coach, the Placer players realize a league title banner could help them gain fame around the Auburn campus. Or maybe not. “I like to tell my friends and people around school (that we’re undefeated),” Holden said. “So a few people know, but I wouldn’t say the whole school knows. It’s not like football or basketball.”