Who’s ready for a road trip? Pacheco High football starts the season tonight at Bear River High School in Grass Valley at the opposite end of the Sac-Joaquin Section, a good four-hour drive away.
Bear River went 6-4 last year, but slipped to fifth place in the Pioneer Valley League with a 1-4 record after starting the season 5-0. The Bruins were one of just a few 6-4 teams to miss the section playoffs.
“They look fast on film,” Pacheco coach David Snapp said. “I don’t think they’re overly imposing. They have a nose guard that’s 6-7, 300 pounds, so he’ll be fun to deal with, but the rest of the guys look wiry and athletic. They have some guys that look like they can run sideline to sideline, but I think we match up speed-wise.”
Offensively, Snapp said Bear River runs a shotgun, wing-T formation and uses a lot of sweeps to take advantage of that speed in space on the outside, using all-league linebacker John Voter III as the main ball-carrier this year. Voter led the team in tackles last year and was a change-of-pace option at running back.
“They threw the ball in their scrimmage more than I thought they would,” Snapp said. “(The defense against sweeps will fall on) our safety and outside linebackers, and our corners too because we like to run a lot of cover-2. We want to get them flowing back inside where Frank (Ginda) and Kalama (Kamoku) can do their job. Our guys have been tested a lot this week on containing the sweep.”
One thing Snapp said could make a difference is the confidence of the Bear River players.
“Their junior class has only lost one game in their first two years of high school football,” Snapp said. “Obviously that doesn’t always translate to the varsity level, but they have co-head coaches, and they both have almost 100 wins (apiece). We’re trying to do everything we can to not be No. 199.”
The Panthers had one final tuneup on Saturday in Merced against Golden Valley, featuring Snapp’s old boss in GV head coach Dennis Stubbs. Snapp was the running backs coach at Los Banos High when Stubbs was the school’s head coach.
“It’s nice to show off my program to a guy I respect and used to work for. I want him to look at us, and hopefully he realizes there were things he taught me,” Snapp said. “Things like structure and organization.
“He’s real big on doing things a certain way. I think we’ve done that,” Snapp said. “And a toughness in the guys that when he got here to Los Banos he thought was lacking, and that’s something I think we’ve carried over here to Pacheco. Not always physically but mentally as well.”
Snapp said the scrimmage accomplished his main two goals — giving his players a chance to compete against players in a different-colored uniform and walking away without injuries.
“Our guys competed, and nobody got hurt,” he said. “We were in something like 90 plays total on offense and defense. The last few years at Orestimba we were up there around 170, 180. We needed that at that time. This year our guys didn’t need the same amount of reps.”