By Jeff Hatch

Special to the Pilot

With the final notes of the National Anthem, as sung by Brookings-Harbor High School Sea Breeze, fading away and the roar of the crowd building to a crescendo, the Bruins of Brookings Harbor High School (BHHS) football team kicked off their 2008-09 schedule against the Hidden Valley High School Mustangs.

School spirit ran high, but so did the Mustangs' scoring, which gave the visiting team a 41-0 victory over the Bruins.

The Bruins started strong on defense, holding the Mustangs to negative yards and forcing them to punt the ball away on the first series of the game. The first quarter was back and forth play with the Bruins never giving up on defense even after Hidden Valley broke open a huge run with only a few minutes left in the first quarter.

BHHS running backs Evan Peterson and Dustin Paradis carried the ball for positive yardage, but they just were not able to punch out any really big runs for touchdowns. And at the end of the first quarter the score was tied 0-0.

With 11:09 remaining in the second quarter Hidden Valley scored their first touchdown of the game and never looked back. The extra point was good gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead. The Bruins had moments of brilliance during the game, with a couple excellent kick-off returns by Paradis and a huge charging run by Derek Chavez in the third quarter, but it wasn't enough to score.

Tragedy struck with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter: Senior Neil Watson was injured on a play and had to be taken from the field on a stretcher. Neil was transported by ambulance to the hospital where his mother, Lori Watson, said preliminary diagnosis showed only pulled muscles and a bruised hip.

Despite the shutout, Bruins head coach Jim Key said the players andquot;kept their enthusiasm up the entire game.andquot;

With only five seniors on the team, the Bruins are definitely young and lacking in experience, but they make up for it in spirit.

Behind the leadership of senior Mike Althof, the defense kept playing hard right up until the end of the game.

When asked what they will focus on in practice to prepare to face Phoenix High School next week in Phoenix, Keys said, andquot;Repetition of plays. We have to practice them over and over so they will work in the game situation.andquot;

Look for this young team to mature as they run the ball and work the play action passing game through the pre-season schedule and on into the regular season match-ups against Far West league opponents.