It’s throwback football here on the outskirts of Lake of the Pines, played on a grass field where players go both ways and on special teams.
They rest during timeouts or quarter breaks then peel off their sweat and grass-smeared uniforms.
Bear River High School has made it work for 30 years with simplicity, discipline and big-game efforts, largely under the watch of one of the region’s great coaches and champions in Terry Logue, who has admirably battled Parkinson’s in recent years with the sort of resolve that inspires the entire program and campus.
A 200-game winner, Logue has been with the program since 1987, a year after the school opened in the foothills. For the past 14 seasons, Logue’s co-coach has been a man of equal high reputation in Scott Savoie, and they have been a formidable 1-2 punch, earning Bee Coach of the Year honors last season after another championship season.
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This season, a 22-player roster has blasted its way to a 6-0 start. The No. 12 Bruins beat No. 16 Center 16-7 on Friday night to open Pioneer Valley League play, scoring one for small-school football across the land.
“Every week we come to play,” Logue said. “We’re prepared. We work hard, and we play hard, clean football. We’ll knock you down and then offer you a hand to get up.
“Football is a big deal at Bear River.”
The deal starts with what Logue and Savoie refer as to the Bruins’ “Three Amigos.”
That would be quarterback Calder Kunde, running back Tre Maronic and receiver Dylan Scott, who also play on defense and special teams. Maronic rushed for 151 yards and Kunde passed for 128 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Josiah Cregar to put the Bruins up for good at 9-7 with 4:10 left to play in the third.
Scott booted a 25-yard field goal, had 102 receiving yards and made an interception.
Is there room for a fourth Amigo? On this night, it would be Hunter Daniels, a gritty running back who chugged for 54 yards, including 3-yard score to make it 16-7 with 9:56 to play.
“We have some kids who make plays, and the Amigos are the heart and soul of our team,” said Logue, the team’s offensive coordinator.
The defensive coordinator is Tanner Mathias, the Bear River quarterback in 2008 who leads the team in pregame warmups with a spirited pep talk.
This is the smallest roster in program history, but the effort is immeasurable, Logue and Savoie said.
They needed every ounce of effort against a talented Center team that was led by quarterback Michael Wortham, who made plays despite a sore knee, including the first score of the game on a 3-yard rush. Center is 5-1.
Bear River aims to reach its fourth Sac-Joaquin Section championship game in five years. The Bruins have two titles in that stretch, including last season in Division V after needing a Week 10 win over Center just to qualify for the postseason.
“We love small-town football,” Savoie said. “We have fans that are fanatics and live for this.”
The co-coaching arrangement works because the men are friends. “We like each other,” Logue said, adding that Savoie is guilty for any of the losses over the years. “We talk, we keep our egos in check and we try not to step on each other’s toes. It works.”