Mount Shasta's defense had its back to the wall often against Hoopa, but made big plays when needed for a 13-2 win.
The feeling was different on Mount Shasta High School's football field during Friday night's season-opening 13-2 win.
During last year's winless season, when things started to go wrong for the Bears they kept getting worse.
These 2013 Bears came up big when they had their backs to the wall against visiting Hoopa – and they had their backs to the wall often.
"It was a roller-coaster, but it was a fun roller-coaster," said second year head coach Jason Young. "The defense played great, and the offense clicked at key times. They played four quarters of football; that's the difference. My hat's off to them."
Each time Hoopa threatened, the Bears came up with either a big tackle, a turnover or a defended pass.
Mount Shasta took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 7 yard touchdown pass from Brandon Acord to Dominic Tognolini and Tognolini's PAT kick.
After the Bears recovered a third quarter Hoopa fumble on their own one yard line, their next play got stopped in the end zone for a safety.
Then the Bears stopped a Hoopa drive at their own 9 yard line.
Hoopa again drove deep into Mount Shasta territory after a short punt gave them the ball at the Bears' 28.
That drive ended when the Bears broke up consecutive passes at the goal line on third and fourth down, the first one by Jonathan Clemens, the next one by Clemens and Cesar Gonzalez.
Consecutive first down runs by Gonzalez, Daniel Benham and Acord moved the ball to the 40, then Benham gave the Bears their 13-2 cushion when he broke through the line and went 60 yards for a touchdown with 6 minutes left in the game.
Hoopa returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to Mount Shasta's 20 yard line, then fumbled the ball back to the Bears on the next play.
Mount Shasta gave the ball back on a fumble at its own 39 yard line with 2:40 to play, then Gonzalez stepped in front of an intended pass receiver to grab an interception and return it all the way to Hoopa's 10.
That when the Bears and their fans knew for sure this is not 2012.
Benham, a junior, pointed out after the game that this group of Bears got split up two years ago when several sophomores were moved up from JV to varsity because of a player shortage.
"We have more chemistry now, and we're tougher," he said.
He said it's just one win. "It feels good, but now we want to win more."