Brookings-Harbor High School head football coach Shaun Bavaro is decidedly upbeat about the Bruin varsity’s prospects this year.

“We’re in a much better place than we were at this time last year,” said Bavaro

Back for his second season, Bavaro has lost only two starters to graduation. He returns, in his words, “97% of my team, and that is a good place to start.”

The 2019 Oregon Schools Athletic Association football season has the Bruins populating the 3A South with familiar faces from last year: Cascade Christian, Douglas, 4A Hidden Valley, South Umpqua and St. Mary’s-Medford.

In 2018, Bavaro’s Bruins compiled a 2-3 league standing, going 5-5 overall.

Offensively, Brookings averaged nearly 17 points per contest, while defensively allowing an average of 27 points per game. To improve on last year’s record, the Bears understand they’ll need to reverse that ratio.

Fans will get their first look at the Bears during a Sept. 6 kick-off hosting 2A Gold Beach, in a resumption of a Curry County rivalry dating back decades. Brookings won in Gold Beach last year, 26-6.

Bavaro said that with almost all of his squad back, it saves him from having to spend time knocking out the fundamentals of his program like he had to do last year, when his approach to prep football was being introduced.

With the help of coaches Lonnie Nalls and Charlie Kady, Brookings will replicate Bavaro’s offensive set of last year, featuring a run-and-pass strategy with play action to keep opposing defenses guessing which of the one or two backs flanking behind the quarterback will be packing the mail.

When the opposing defense overcommits to counter the run, the Bruins can go to the air.

Bavaro said it’s too early to name a starting quarterback. He’s currently vetting senior Ethan Hooper, juniors Logan Holler and Andrew Burger, and North Valley sophomore transfer Eli Newell.

When it comes to his offensive and defensive lines, Bavaro said simply, “We have decent size and the kids look solid.” In fact, “solid” was a reoccurring theme when describing his Bruins overall.

Defensively, Brookings will operate primarily out of a look that has three men up front and five playing back to react quickly to opposing offenses. Bavaro has six players he can rotate in and out of the lineup at a moment’s notice to keep everyone fresh and the heat on.

When it comes to teams to beat in the 3A-2SD Conference, look no further than the Rogue Valley and the two private schools placing first and second in league respectively: Cascade Christian and St. Mary’s Medford.

Cascade Christian head coach John Gettman saw his Challengers advance to the 3A state championship game before falling to the Rainier Colombians, 14-44, in Cottage Grove.

St. Mary’s ran into that same Challengers buzz saw in the first round, 13-61.

Randy Robbins will have weekly previews of the Brookings-Harbor games each Wednesday, and instant online recaps at www.pilot.com following the Friday games.

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