The Bruins will deploy athleticism on Friday night (8/29 at 7:30) at Bear River High School when they play host to the Pacheco Panthers who are returning all of their key players for their senior season.
The Bruins did not make the 2013 playoffs in spite to starting the season 5-0. Pacheco did make the playoffs going 7-4 in 2013 but they were sent home in the first round falling to Christian Brothers by a score of 54-20. BR has 34 players on their roster while Pacheco High School has 44. The host team is a lot like the visitors of last season, as they will have a lot of juniors playing key roles on both offense and defense.
As we taking a closer look at the PHS Panthers's returning players it is clear that the team from Los Banos will bring a lot more varsity experience to the field for Friday night's game at Bear River High School. First let's look at the quarterbacks from both teams. Bear River will call upon Austin Smith, a senior signal caller who was Braden Duncan's backup in 2013. Smith threw the ball 19 times (167 yards) in his junior season while PHS's quarterback Juwan Epperson threw the ball 131 times (1,275 yards) which resulted in 11 scoring strikes. Both QBs have a quarterback rating higher than 100 which is very good. In addition to Epperson's passing game he can also run the ball. He ran the ball 61 times for 505 yards which resulted in seven scores. Smith ran the ball 6 times which resulted in 4 yards and no scores. Epperson's total yards in his junior season was 1,806.
At the running back position it is very clear who will get most of the touches for the Panthers while the Bruins will have a host of options. PHS will lean heavy on Frank Ginda (6'2, 220 LBS) who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior including a 300 yard night. He also scored 17 rushing TDs and two through the air. The Bruins have a host of juniors who will look to get into the mix. The only returning tailback for BR will be John Voter who ran the ball 51 times for 239 yards with no scores. What should also be noted is the Panthers also have an additional returning back Moffet Teneng (5'7", 175 lbs) who is their quick back. He tallied 579 yards rushing on 83 carries and five TDs in eight games.
For a quarterback to have a great season they must have a sure handed receiving core. Bear River's leading returning receiver is Ryan Wagner who caught 10 passes for 101 yards and a score. While Pacheco will look to Maurice Harden as he is their leading returning pass catcher. Harden caught 22 balls for 397 yards and five scores.
While it is very clear the Panthers have a lot more experience at the varsity level on the offensive side of the ball the Bruins do return a few of their defensive standouts which include Voter (80 tackles), Kyle Krogman (51 tackles) and Cannon Fetter who stands 6-foot-6 300 lbs (39 tackles). Pacheco only returns Ginda who had as many tackles (81) as BR's top three.
This year the Bruins are a young athletic group of young men who will get better each and every week. By the time the Pioneer Valley League kicks-off they should be ready for a playoff push.