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Prep football preview: Bear River Bears
First Published Aug 05 2014 02:56 pm • Last Updated Aug 19 2014 09:16 am

EDITOR’S NOTE » This is one in a series of previews of Utah’s high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.

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Bear River Bears

Bear River should know pretty darn early whether it can expect to compete in a talented Class 3AA North region.

That’s because coach Chris Wise has loaded up the preseason portion of the Bears’ schedule with Class 4A teams Logan, Mountain Crest and Box Elder, in an effort to test his team and prepare the players for region play.

"They’re asking me if I’m trying to kill them," Wise said of his players. "We’re going to focus on what we’re good at, and not going to worry about making adjustments."

Senior quarterback Walker Riley, a backup last year, will run the triple-option spread offense, and will look to get the ball to wideout Bridger Beus, who scored five TDs a season ago.

There are plenty of holes on the offensive line that need to be filled — left guard Carson Gibbs is the only returning starter up front.

New defensive coordinator Jared Lish will work to retool a squad that allowed 34 points or more five times last season. He will build around senior linebacker McKade Mitton, who was a monster a season ago (more than 150 tackles and five sacks).

If they survive the preseason schedule, the Bears just may be in position to compete for the 3AA North title.

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"It’s hard to say," Wise said. "There are so many talented teams in the region. Juan Diego graduated a lot of seniors, but they always have athletes. You just never can tell."

Last year » 7-4 (4-2 in Class 3AA North)

Key returner » Senior linebacker McKade Mitton had twice as many tackles as the next closest teammate a season ago, and led the team with five sacks.

Player to watch » Wise said the Bears need to get the ball into the hands of junior Bridger Beus, an elusive wideout who will carry and catch the ball in the triple-option spread offense.

Biggest hole » The offensive line lost four starters from a season ago, but Wise isn’t overly concerned about the Bears’ ability to fill the hole.

Need to know » The Bears will look to replace the production of last year’s quarterback, Jardee Neeson, who accounted for 35 touchdowns.

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