After three weeks of practice, Big Bear coach Dave Griffiths has a very good feeling about the chemistry of his team. It’s such a good feeling that Griffiths isn’t shying away from comparisons from the great teams of seasons past.
“This senior class is about as close and as good as any that we have had since I’ve been here,” Griffiths said. “They are right there with the (CIF championship) 2006 team. That’s how good I feel about this group. Of course injuries will always be a factor on a team with our numbers, but if we stay healthy, I think we could do some things this year.”
A lot of Griffiths’ confidence comes from the return of senior Zakk Planz at quarterback. A starter since midway through his sophomore year, Planz (6-1, 193) runs Big Bear’s option offense deftly, rushing for 745 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing for another three touchdowns. He may not necessarily be the threat that Kriss Proctor used to be on the mountain, but he’s plenty capable of taking over a game.
“Having a three-year starting like Zakk coming back at quarterback means a lot, especially with the type of offense we run,” Griffiths said. “Timing means everything and have a talented veteran like Zakk back there helps everything go.”
Planz will also have experience around him offensively, as senior Harley Chlebik (5-8, 195) returns at fullback after running for 673 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. Chili Bernal (5-6, 185) will also play some fullback with Kelly’kai Tokunaga (5-11, 175) and Austin Dubuque (6-4, 190) will see time at receiver.
Big Bear will be filled with technically-sound and sturdy, if not big, players in the trenches as it traditionally seems to be. Three key returners that will pull double duty on the lines are seniors Wesley Hobbs (5-11, 179), Kyle McHolland (6-1, 200) and Jose Servin (5-11, 230). Chlebik will also see some time at defensive tackle after playing middle linebacker a year ago.
Defensively the Bears are led by the Dubuque twins at linebacker. Austin Dubuque was the De Anza League’s Defensive MVP last year while twin brother Derik (6-4, 190) might even be quicker than Austin according to Griffiths.
Big Bear schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 2: at Pasadena Maranatha
Sept. 9: at Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep
Sept. 16: at Arrowhead Christian
Sept. 24: WESTERN CHRISTIAN
Oct. 1: RIM OF THE WORLD
Oct. 14: at Desert Hot Springs*
Oct. 22: YUCCA VALLEY*
Oct. 29: INDIO SHADOW HILLS*
Nov. 4: at Desert Mirage*
Nov. 12: TWENTYNINE PALMS*
All home games at Big Bear Middle School.