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Junior Bruins Kick Off 2016 Campaign
Riverbank Junior Bruin Youth Football varsity defensive players (silver helmets) swarm to take down a Tuolumne Bears ball carrier during Jamboree action earlier this season. The youth Bruins hosted Linden on Aug. 20, with games at all four levels. Ric McGinnis/The News

The Riverbank fall youth football season kicked off at home this past Saturday, with four games in the Motherlode Valley Football League. The Junior Bruins hosted the Linden Lions at Riverbank High.

Although the posted schedule for game times indicated a 12:30 p.m. start time for the Jr. Novice game, and others at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m., the games instead were started at 9 a.m., so they ended early, too.

According to team president Casey Blevins, the first game of the season is considered a practice, or non-league game.

The Jr. Novice team, 7- and 8-year-olds, didn't keep score, being new to football. The Novices, 9- and 10-year-olds, lost to the visiting Linden team, 26-0.

The Junior Varsity Junior Bruins, those players ages 11 and 12, lost 44-0, and the Varsity, 12-½ to 14-year-olds, won by a final of 34-6.

Blevins said the win was the first of its kind for Riverbank’s varsity youth players. One parent, Amber Allen, whose children have been with Junior Bruins football program for seven years, teared up over the win, Blevins explained, happy with the change in direction the team is taking.

Blevins reiterated the effort youth football is making to work more closely with the RHS program and junior coaches for the team consist of past and present members of Bruin football teams.

Current varsity quarterback Jalen Spikes helps out, as does Jose Martinez, also playing currently, as is William Carson. Current JV quarterback Easton Gutierrez is there as is previous JV Bruin player Matthew Nisperos.

Blevins said the high school support even trickles down to the control booth. Announcer for the Junior Bruins varsity game was current RHS JV player Georgio Retana and the scoreboard operator was former JV player Nick Mayfield.

This Saturday, MVFL play takes Riverbank to Escalon to take on the Outlaws. The schedule says games are the usual times, 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.

The following Saturday, they host the Ripon Junior Chiefs, on the RHS stadium field.