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It’s no wonder that in the animal kingdom the bear is known to be more formidable than the coyote.
That proved to be true in the kingdom of school mascots as well, with the Summerville High School Bears crushing the Denair High School Coyotes 48-2 in their season opener at Thorsted Field Friday night.
Coach Sean Leveroos said significant contributions from the team’s defense and young sophomores assisted in the overall goal of the game, winning individual battles during each play to ensure victory.
“The energy was good and we had contributions from all of our different sub-units,” he said.
Senior fullback Jared Brick, who registered three of Summerville’s seven touchdowns, said that despite the margin of victory, there were clear opportunities during the game where the team could have competed better. But despite the room for improvements, he added, an opening game victory was a significant achievement.
“We just came out and executed and did what the coaches told us to do,” he said. “I just got the ball and I ran.”
Just after 7 p.m., the sun began to settle under the horizon and the searing 90 degree temperatures from just an hour earlier dropped significantly. The stands were a sea of orange and black, with hundreds of fans filling the seats and the arching concrete walkway meandering to the concession building. AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Limp Bizkit bellowed from the outbound speakers on opposite sides of the stadium seating.
An adrenal electricity conducted the stadium, from the students and parents to the players. Leading up to the opening Denair kickoff, anticipation was high.
The Bears football team knew just how to harness that energy, and opened up the scoring within the first minutes of the game.
Enforcing the strength of their running game from the opening possession, the Bears advanced up the field with multiple 10-yard runs before senior Dominic Esquivel charged more than 25 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
The celebrations for the season’s inaugural touchdown only foreshadowed additional successes for the team as the game continued.
Summerville’s staunch defensive efforts forced a fourth down turnover within Denair’s territory, and followed just a few moments later with a powerful running touchdown from Brick.
The Bears successfully completed a two-point conversion on their first touchdown but were thwarted by the outstretched hands of a Denair defensive player on their second attempt.
Just five minutes into the game, the score was 14-0, Bears.
In the waning moments of the first quarter, a hulking full-stop tackle from Tres Machado kept the Coyotes out of contention for the Summerville end zone and maintained the shutout.
Through the end of the first half, the Bears emphasized Leveroos’ philosophy of 13 strong: each individual team unit, on both offense and defense, worked in tandem with one another to ensure small victories in individual plays.
The Bears scored another running touchdown with about six minutes remaining in the half, bringing the score to 21-0.
Later, a staggering dive-bomb punt from Denair was nearly turned over after being dropped by the returning Summerville player, but the Bears responded with a more than 80 yard touchdown run from Brick.
Brick added his third touchdown of the game with an 18-yard run in the final seconds of the half.
At the start of the second half, it seemed as if the Bears had all but assured victory, with a 35 point gulf between them and Denair.
But Denair, to their credit, was able to salvage at least one hollow achievement Friday night, during a third quarter punt that was misjudged by the Summerville returner yet again.
Bobbling the bouncing pigskin, the Summerville player was tackled in his own end zone, and yielded a safety for Denair.
The shutout had been lost, but as in all other moments of the game, Summerville produced a formidable response.
Gaining the ball again, the team led an attritional slog down the field, and sophomore Nick Veach gained another touchdown for the Bears.
The pace of the game had slowed by the start of the fourth quarter, with a new set of players able to test their mettle against the Coyotes.
Esquivel scored another touchdown in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but a blocked PAT following the touchdown led to a brief tussle between the opposing players.
As they swarmed into one another and exchanged pushes, the respective coaches barked forceful orders from the sidelines for the players to separate.
The scuffle dissipated, and as the clock wound down, the final score was confirmed as a wide victory for the Bears, 48-2.
The Summerville Bears play Mariposa County High School Thursday, Aug. 31 at home in Thorsted Field next week.
Leveroos said the team will be working to “clean up” issues up front and improve team communication leading into the coming week.