Not your average bears
Quarterback Dillon Smith and wide receiver Tevyn Kimble have been playing catch for years.
This year the two Bear River High School seniors get to keep at it on the big stage as seniors on the varsity football team.
Two years ago as sophomores the duo helped lead the junior varsity Bruins to a perfect season.
“We were 22 for 22,” Smith said. “He didn’t drop a pass all year. We went 10-0.”
The Bruins, coming off a 7-4 (2-3 Pioneer Valley League) season that ended in a first-round playoff loss, are looking to build off of chemistry and familiarity this year.
“We’re not trying to be an average Bear River team,” said Smith, who saw action in two games last year as a backup QB, including a performance that helped put the Bruins into the playoffs. “We’re shooting for 9-1, 10-0.”
Smith saw limited action because he was sitting behind three-year started James Harris, who graduated.
Smith will lead an offense that returns three starters and will operate out of the shotgun and Wing-T.
Smith expects his offensive line to buy him time to find open receivers, including his favorite target Kimble.
“My line always has my back and they don’t let anyone get to me,” he said.
Defensively, the Bruins return six starters, and figure to have a strong linebacking core led by seniors Cody Heard, Zach Winter and Cameron Barrios. Their talents may come in handy as co-head coaches Scott Savoie and Terry Logue said the team is rather green at the defensive line.
Still, Heard said the “defense is stacked.”
One thing they are certainly stacked with is a team full of friends.
“We’re more together as a team this year,” Winters said. “We’re incorporating all of our juniors and we feel like a brotherhood in locker room.”
A handful of the guys on the roster of 40, about half of which are seniors, have been playing football and Little League together for a decade.
The team’s togetherness could help them reach their goals of having a winning season and returning to the playoffs.
But the Bruins face a tough schedule this year, including four new opponents in their five-game non-conference slate. Before PVL play begins, Bear River opens the season against Union Mine on Friday, Aug. 31.
The Bruins also play at Woodland, Highlands, at River Valley and at Scotts Valley. Concluding a four-game road trip, the Bruins start league play with the daunting task of facing Colfax and Placer in back-to-back contests on the road.
“Our big game is against Placer,” Smith said, “but there’s always a chance we can beat them.”
Time will tell how far Smith can lead his Bruins in 2012.
“He’s definitely capable,” Savoie said of Smith. “He’s very accurate. He makes good decisions, he’s mobile.”
If Smith has his way, the Bruins will be moving upward in the PVL standings this season.
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel