Bear River hoping for breakout season – Cache Valley Daily

Bear River has a proud football history, especially in the 21st century where it’s won three state championships. In the most recent years, however, the team has not lived up to that history. Will this be the season the Bears turn things around?

Team Info

  • Head Coach: Trampis Waite (2nd Year, 3-8 record)

  • Radio Broadcast: 104.9 The Ranch

  • Radio Crew: Clint Payne (play-by-play), JarDee Nessen (analyst)

2023 Schedule

  • Aug 11 vs CEDAR VALLEY

  • Aug 18 at Morgan

  • Aug 25 vs BOX ELDER

  • Sept 1 vs CARBON
  • Sept 8 vs LOGAN
  • Sept 15 at Sky View
  • Sept 22 at Green Canyon
  • Sept 29 vs MOUNTAIN CREST
  • Oct 6 at Ridgeline

2022 Summary

  • Record: 3-8

  • Region Finish: 6th (1-4)

  • Playoffs: Lost in First Round (35-15 at Mountain Crest)


  • Returning Starters: 17

    • 8 on Offense

    • 9 on Defense

  • Returning All-Region Players: 8

  • All-Region Players Lost: 2

Hear Coach Waite’s thoughts on his team

2023 Prospectus

The first year of Trampis Waite’s tenure didn’t see a ton of success, but the team did improve on the 0-10 record of 2021. Still, the Bears finished last in Region 11, the second straight season doing so and the sixth consecutive season of ending the year in the bottom half of the standings.

Turning the ship around was never going to be a one-year effort. Waite is working on building the program from the ground up which means incremental progress. This year a good goal will be getting back to a .500 or near-.500 record. A winning season would be quite the, well…win, so to speak, as it would be the first since 2017.

Waite will have quite a bit of his top talent from last year returning to help in that endeavor. Aiden Wilson, a First Team All-Region 11 selection on the D-line will lead a defense that returns two other All-Region honorees — linebacker Tyson Braegger and defensive back Talon Marble — with four other returning starters on that side of the ball. Waite said “having an identity” on defense is something that will help the group improve on its play from last year. That and having more size. With Waite coming on as head coach a bit later in the year his staff weren’t able to do as much strength and conditioning which had a knock-on effect.

“Last year we were going up against guys that were just bigger and stronger than us,” Waite said.

Now, with a full offseason together, the defense has more size, an identity to rally around, and a mission to be a lot more stingy than last year.

“I expect them to have much better numbers because our numbers were not great last year on the defensive side of the ball,” Waite said.

Much like the defense, the offense returns nearly everybody, including most of the offensive line (though minus one after a preseason injury to one of the starting tackles). The Bears do need to replace do-it-all Ryker Jeppsen on offense, but do seem fairly equipped to do so. His quarterbacking duties last year were gradually taken over by Owen Olsen (Jeppson moving to WR/RB) who completed 67.4 percent of his passes in five games where he attempted a pass, including a 18-for-28, 232 yard, four touchdown performance against Salem Hills to conclude the regular season. Waite said Olsen is “going to have a huge year” and that he’s “taken the offense by the reigns.” And having been a wide receiver most of last year, Olsen certainly has plenty of athleticism to work with in addition to being an accurate passer.

Bear River quarterback Owen Olsen throws a pass in a game against Mountain Crest on Oct. 21, 2022

Alongside Olsen are several returning skill players such as running back Tydon Jones and wide receivers Jace Roberts and Marble. The Jones and Roberts led Bear River in rushing and receiving, respectively, last year and another season should only increase their potency as weapons. Waite said Jones, who ran for 510 yards and three touchdowns last year, will “have a big year,” adding that Jones gained 20 pounds in the offseason.

Roberts, according to Waite, has impressed some collegiate recruiters that have come to Bear River practices. He put up consistent production all of last year with his 35 catches for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 82 yards on the ground, most of that in a 59-yard rushing performance against Salem Hills.

“He’s our go-to-guy,” Waite said of Roberts. “He can run the ball. He can catch the ball. He’s a strong kid, a fast kid. I expect him to have a big year.”

Marble’s return is more of him returning to his two-way impact. He injured his hand partway through 2022 and had to go defense-only. Before the injury, Marble caught 16 passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns.

Bear River’s non-region schedule will likely prove tougher than last year. They’ll still have to face 3A powerhouse Morgan and Box Elder, both of which the Bears lost to last year, but a third big challenge will come in the form of Cedar Valley, a 5A team that will provide a tougher test than Clearfield who went winless as a 5A team last year (and wound up being Bear River’s first win of 2022). The Bears do have Carbon on their schedule, a 3A team that struggled last season which could give some respite in a gauntlet of a non-region schedule. A positive of the non-region slate is that three of the four early games are at home.

Once in region play, it’s possible the Bears could get off to a 2-1 start. Games against Logan and Green Canyon, teams expected to be lower in the standings, come within the first three games (the other is Sky View. If Bear River are 2-1 it could set up a major contest against Mountain Crest with both teams trying to jump back into true region contention. If all goes smoothly for the Bears in the early weeks, they could have the chance to control their destiny at Ridgeline in the final week of region play.

If there ever was a season that Bear River could reverse the funk the program has been in, it ought to be this season. Waite drew a comparison between his 2023 Bears to the 2022 Mountain Crest team, saying the strong senior class of the Mustangs helped them jump from going 3-18 over the course of two seasons, to going 8-5 last year. Waite has a larger senior class (20 this year to eight last season) that’s prepared to make the jump. This could be their year.

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