Wednesday Sep 30 2009
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
What We Learned About PVL Grid Teams In The Preseason
Since its inception in 2002, Pioneer Valley League football supremacy has been the championship domain of three schools. In its eighth season, the PVL has seen Colfax grab four outright crowns along with two co-titles. Whitney has one outright title (2008) and one co-championship with Colfax in 2007. Bear River, meanwhile, reached the top when it tied with Colfax for the 2005 pennant. Now, as the PVL begins is last cycle before CIF Sac-Joaquin Section realignment kicks in, a balance of power seems to be shifting in the league which is comprised of both Div. III and Div. IV sized-schools. “We feel if we want to make the playoffs that we need to beat one of the big three,” said Bear River co-coach Terry Logue this week as the Bruins prepared for Friday’s PVL opener when Colfax visits Lake of the Pines at 7:30 p.m. Logue was referring to the Bruins having to defeat either Whitney, Placer or Colfax to have a shot at one of the three guaranteed PVL playoff berths this season. Colfax coach Tony Martello, meanwhile, almost echoed Logue’s words to the letter when he noted that, “The reason we didn’t make the playoffs last year was because we didn’t beat one of the big three.” While Logue and Martello have the same views on who the PVL’s “Big Three” are, there might be some open debate, this season anyway, on just how wide open the league race will be this season. And, with the CIF opening up “at-large” berths - teams will need at least two league wins to be considered - it seems that an exciting PVL race could be in store for league followers. As we get set to head off into league play, here’s what we learned over the last three weeks from the PVL teams: *No fewer than five of the seven PVL teams posted winning records in the three weeks of non-league play. Placer picked perhaps the biggest win of the preseason by knocking off previously undefeated Casa Roble, 31-30, last Friday. *The biggest stunner of the pre-season: Capital Christian’s 29-14 Week One win over Bear River. Capital hasn’t won since. *Mesa Verde (1-2) played the toughest, statistically speaking anyway, preseason with losses to Bella Vista (3-0) and Oakmont (2-1) and a win over Mira Loma (2-1). Those opponents are a combined 7-3 overall. *The weakest non-league slate award goes to El Dorado (1-2). The Cougars suffered losses to Union Mine (1-2), Ponderosa (1-2) and has a win over Golden Sierra (0-3). Colfax (6-4) and Whitney (6-5) were the only two other PVL teams to play foes with overall marks over .500. *Lincoln is off to the school’s first 3-0 start, well at least since the Zebras used to play at McBean Park. Is Lincoln for real? The Zebras will find out Friday when they host Whitney in what is being called the biggest game for the school since the Zebras battled Colfax in a CIF semi-final slugfest back in 2000. *Air Bruins? – No, that’s not a misprint. Bear River, a program that has prided itself over the years on its bruising ground attack, actually leads the PVL in pass attempts after three outings. The Bruins have attempted 54 aerials. That’s 12 more than Mesa Verde. Only Colfax and Lincoln attempted more than 30 passes in the preseason. Placer (3-0) has only put the ball in the air 26 times through three games. *Year of the Runner? – Could be when you consider that Placer’s Asher Gotzmer (560) leads a group of six PVL runners who have already compiled more than 300 yards on the ground. The workhorse honor of the preseason goes to El Dorado’s Chris Haskins. Haskins, a speedy transfer from Johnson, has toted the ball 71 times already for the Cougars. The league’s best rushing average? Colfax’s Josh Moreno (12.48 per carry). Top Newcomer – How about Lincoln’s Moses Stanley. Stanley has rused for 334 yards and is averaging 11 yards a carry with four touchdowns, Remarkably, Stanley was home schooled before this year and had never played high school football. *Super Sophs – Whitney with four, Colfax with a pair and Bear River with one lead the way for sophomores playing at the varsity level. Two – Jake Rodrigues of Whitney and James Harris of Bear River – are starters at the all important quarterback spot. *Quote of the Preseason: “We could have stayed home and played someone soft but we wanted to challenge the kids. We’re young, we’ll grow from this.” Whitney coach Mike Giminez following last Friday’s 24-7 loss to Oakdale at “The Corral”. In Case Anyone is Wondering: The CIF will take 32 teams from Div. III and IV to the playoffs this season. A bench mark figure that the section is using to qualify for the playoffs is six wins. After three weeks of play, a total of 38 teams among Div. III and IV schools have at least two or more wins.