By Phil Dailey
In true rivalry fashion, Thursday night's football game between La Jolla Country Day and Bishop's will likely come down to one or two plays. If recent history is any indication, these two will battle it out with the winner sneaking away with a slight victory and a huge confidence boost early in the season.
During the last two seasons, this cross-town game has been won by the narrowest of margins. Last season, it was Bishop's who edged LJCD, 14-13. In 2008, LJCD topped the Knights, 21-20.
"We get their best when we play them so there's no doubt they are going to come out and play their "A" game," said Joel Allen, in his second year as the head coach at Bishop's. "You know when a team wants to beat you really badly ... it's a different kinda game. It's a first down here, a missed tackle here that's gonna come down to be the difference. Hopefully we are on the positive side of those plays."
Both teams are heading into the matchup at Country Day with a full head of steam. Country Day (1-1) is fresh off a blowout win over Mountain View Christian (Las Vegas) on Saturday, 37-14. As for the Knights (1-0), they have to still feel good about their Week 1 win over Division III El Capitan, 26-21.
"Gosh, they beat El Capitan," said LJCD Jeff Hutzler, who is in his ninth season as the head coach for the Torreys. "That's a big, big win for Bishop's. It certainly gives us pause and we have been looking at that tape quite a bit."
Allen said Bishop's, a Division V school, was able to get that opening-week win because his team was much more physical, something he said the team needs to duplicate Thursday night.
"The kids came out and played real well," Allen said. "The kids played physical and I think sometimes at a small school it catches other teams off guard when we play physical. We were obviously very excited about that win."
Bishop's won't catch Country Day off guard. Hutzler knows what to expect, especially with what type of team the Knights will bring when they visit Thursday night.
"They are very senior heavy this year," Hutzler said. "They have had some good teams the past few years and this is probably one of their best teams."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Knights are extremely talented, which is led by Alec Fishers at running back.
On defense, the Knight have one of the top players in the county in Micah Seau. Overall, Bishop's relies on its upperclassmen to carry the load.
It's quite the opposite for LJCD, which has several sophomores who are key contributors. However, Allen said that the key to stopping the Torreys on offense may just come down to slowing senior QB Ruben Pena.
"If we can contain him we'll probably have a decent night," Allen said of Pena. "If he gets loose and starts making plays, we're gonna put ourselves in tough situations."
Just like most all rivalry games, these teams know each other well and won't need much motivation when kickoff comes at 7 p.m.
"Anytime you play a game against a team that is so familiar with you and vice versa," Allen said. "I think our kids are ready. The team that is more physical will win this won. We're expecting their best."