Column: It’s all on the line tonight for Badgers, Bears
'On the Ball'
Posting four victories in the last five weeks, the No. 15-ranked Prescott football team likely needs one more win Friday night to qualify for the 4A state playoffs.
Standing in their way, however, is bitter cross-town rival Bradshaw Mountain, the defending Grand Canyon region champion.
And they, too, have something to play for.
Win, and the No. 24-ranked Bears claim their third region title in the last four years. Lose, and they likely go home.
The last time these two teams locked horns, Bradshaw Mountain came away with a resounding 41-15 victory over the Badgers in Prescott Valley a year ago.
The Bears also walked off Bob Pavlich Field with the Essequam Videri 19 Cup in their grasp, a traveling rivalry trophy crafted in tribute to the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots.
The Badgers (6-3, 4-1 Grand Canyon) are 18-6 overall against Bradshaw Mountain during the 25-year long rivalry, and have won four of the last six meetings.
Prescott will likely have to play smart football Friday night against the streaking Bears, which have won four straight after starting the season 0-5.
Second-year Prescott head coach Michael Gilpin said the Badgers have to “play our game,” which he said is “unpredictable” because offensively, they switch between a traditional quarterback and a “wildcat formation” type offensive attack.
“It’s a good football team, so we have to make them earn every single thing that they get, nothing cheap, nothing free,” Gilpin said about the Bears.
Bradshaw Mountain (4-5, 4-1 Grand Canyon) has outscored their opponents 164-45 during its four-game win streak. The Badgers, however, certainly have the weapons to compete.
Running back Ryan Greene leads Prescott offensively with 1,172 yards rushing on 143 carries and has scored 12 touchdowns. He has five games this season with 100-plus yards on the ground.
Greene holds the all-time Prescott football mark for rushing touchdowns in a career at 31, and the senior will be looking to add to that total Friday night.
Quarterback Austin Clark sports a 77.8 QB rating, having completed 50.8 percent of his passes (67 for 133) on the season for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s thrown eight interceptions.
Standout wide receiver John Chaffeur will likely be a target for Clark. The senior has 26 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Defensively, the Badgers will lean on defensive back Colton Amos to stop the Bears’ balanced attack. He leads the club in tackles with 137.
Chaffeur leads the team with three interceptions and sophomore linebacker Aaron Greene leads Prescott with five sacks and 30 tackles, eight of which have come for a loss.
Prescott has shown a propensity to turn the ball over and commit unnecessary penalties this season. It will be important for the Badgers to stay focused and play smart for 48 minutes, otherwise they’ll be sitting on the couch for the fifth-straight season come state playoff time next week.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier, the Prescott Valley Tribune and the Chino Valley Review. Follow him on Twitter at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.