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Bruised Bruins Recuperate In Football Bye Week
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After getting outscored 387-52 in the first eight weeks of the Sac-Joaquin Section football season, it seemed like Riverbank High's varsity football team could never catch a break.

They've got one now.

The Bruins will rest, rehab and experience some team-building this week as the program enjoys a much-needed bye with two games left to play in one of the toughest small school conferences in the state, the Trans-Valley League.

"We are going to try and heal up and use this week as much of a recovery-preparatory week as possible," Riverbank coach Aaron Thurman said. "Obviously at 0-8 we need to lick our wounds as much as anything, but we are going to try and laugh and find out what these kids like to do when away from the competitive situations we put them in."

The bye comes at an opportune moment for the Bruin coaching staff, as the final two games of league play likely represent the team's best chances for their first win of the season.

The Bruins play Ripon (1-2 TVL, 3-4 overall) on Oct. 29, before suiting up to play Hughson (0-3, 0-7) on Nov. 5.

Ripon beat Hughson by a 35-7 score last week, while Riverbank saw another barrage of injuries in a 51-0 loss to Hilmar.

The Bruins trailed just 7-0 through most of the first quarter and only lost the second half tally 14-0, but allowed a score in the waning moments of the first period and watched Hilmar bully to three rushing scores and a forced safety (grounding in the end zone) in the second quarter.

Eddie Sanchez came through with another Herculean effort on the field after 19 rushes for 80 yards, but brought serious concerns to the Bruin staff when he succumbed to his second concussion of the season.

Thurman said he will not rush Sanchez back to the lineup, and suspects his bruising runner and crafty linebacker could be done for the season.

"I say jokingly that he might want to use his brain later in life," Thurman said. "Eddie may have concluded his football season this year."

Angel Duarte (44 yards rushing) also went down on Friday with a sprained ankle, leaving the likes of Rodrigo Silva and shifty quarterback Alex Reynaga to run Riverbank's new-look wildcat formation against a stubborn Hilmar defense.

Despite the injuries and a one-sided scoreboard, the Bruins kept their cool by not committing a single personal foul against the Yellow jackets.

For longtime Hilmar coach Frank Marques, it was a pleasant surprise to see such integrity from a winless program.

"Coach Marques told me this one was one of the most disciplined Riverbank teams he had ever seen, and said I had a lot to be proud of," Thurman said. "We don't talk trash, we don't push or shove and as a staff we don't often argue calls."