UPDATE: Aug. 25, 2019 — Aaron Espinoza was released from the hospital late Saturday and is home resting and recovering with his family, according to Big Bear head coach Dave Griffiths.
Big Bear lost its home opener to Victor Valley, but they lost more than a game.
During the final play of the game, Aaron Espinoza was injured and taken off the field by paramedics on a stretcher. His injuries are unknown.
As the Bears huddled in the end zone to hear from the coaches about the 21-12 loss, the fans waited for the ambulance to arrive. Coaches discussed their concern with the effort and the lack of discipline on the field in the penalty and injury-laden game.
Penalties were on both teams, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Bears. Coach Dave Griffiths immediately pulled the player from the field clearly disappointed in the behavior. “That’s embarrassing,” Griffiths said as play resumed.
The officials warned players on both sides on the field to keep their emotions in check as their lack of discipline on the field could lead to them not being able to play the following week.
Victor Valley scored first and never relinquished the lead. Big Bear answered with a 64-yard drive to punch it into the end zone on a 1-yard effort by Randle Weather with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. The point after attempt failed, leaving the Bears down 7-6.
Victor Valley started the second quarter with a quick pass to score, and the Jackrabbits would score once more before in the third quarter to take a 21-6 lead.
Big Bear’s Draven Nicholson scored from 6 yards out late in the fourth period, but a two-point conversion failed.
Following a 58-yard kickoff return by Paul Domingue in the second quarter, the Bears were on the 1 yard line but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone.
Nicholson led the Bears with 83 yards on six carries and one touchdown. Randle Weaver had 50 yards on eight carries and one TD. Markus Napolitano finished with 49 yards on 11 carries.
Sophomore Sammy Volpicelli started at quarterback for the Bears completing two passes on five attempts for four yards and one interception.
Paul Dominque, who started at slotback rather than quarterback, left the game with cramps in the third quarter and didn’t return. Weaver was sidelined before the half with a foot injury, but did return to finish the game.
Earlier in the day, the junior varsity Bears defeated Victor Valley 20-8.
Next up, the Bears travel to Twentynine Palms on Friday, Aug. 30, for their second preseason game. Kick off for the JV team is at 4 p.m. followed by varsity at 7 p.m.