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Lava Bears, Cougars mark 40 years of Civil War contests

The Bend High Lava Bears and Mountain View Cougars face off on the 40th anniversary of the Civil War game on Friday. To appreciate what that means, NewsChannel 21 took a look back at when it all started on Nov. 2, 1979 with some of the players who were there for that memorable first.

” It felt like there was rivalry. It felt like this was win or die, ” said Ron Blaylock , 57, who was a senior running back for Bend in the inaugural Civil War contest.

This was new territory for all 94 players on the Bend and Mountain View rosters, and for the whole city. Mountain View had just opened its doors a couple of months before, in August. That’s when Bend High School, and its football team, split up. Half the players changed their allegiance from a lava bear to a cougar.

” We were all friends, ” said Scott Steele, 57, a former offensive tackle for the Lava Bears. ” We went to elementary school, junior high and high school together. I mean, we were playing against our best buddies. ”

In that first year for Mountain View, both as a school and as a football team, the Cougars did not have a home turf to play on. In fact, all their home games from that season were played at the Bend Lava Bears’ home football field, including that inaugural Civil War game.

” I don’t think those guys liked it very much, being on the other side, but that’s the way it worked out, ” said Brian Flener , 57, who played defensive end for Mountain View in the game.

It also happened to be Mountain View’s first homecoming game. Picture 2,500 fans piling into the stadium, with several spectators in standing-room-only sections on the track.

” The excitement really started building then, ” Flener said. ” There was a lot of people here and a lot of cheering going on, and that got you really pumped up. ”

As if the game needed any more drama, Mountain View’s team bus arrived just 10 minutes before kickoff.

” We got in and had very little time to get warmed up, things got started — and we didn’t start off on the right foot, ” Flener said.

The Lava Bears, on the other hand, could not have gotten off to a better start. Thanks to a Mountain View fumble on fourth down, Bend’s first possession started at the five-yard line. Three plays later, senior running back Dave Guichot scored the first touchdown in the game, and the series, on a four-yard run.

Bend finished the game with 312 total yards to Mountain View’s seven, and went on to win 38-0. The Lava Bears captured the first victory in the rivalry, spoiling Mountain View’s first football season.

Bulletin reporter Bob Welch noted the following day, “Don’t expect cougar fans to be waiting in line to buy memory copies” of the game tape.

Still, it was the start of something special.

” It’s just incredible, that it’s been 40 years since that first game, ” Steele said.

The importance of the game has not changed. In fact, Mountain View’s head coach, Brian Crum, said the rival tradition has only grown stronger.

” I remember a game early when I was first here, ’09 or ’10, where you really couldn’t hear, ” Crum said. ” I mean, it was just that loud. Even with headsets on as coaches, it was to the point where, ‘What did you say? I don’t know what’s going on!’ It’s a close game, it’s the fourth quarter, the crowd’s going crazy, the kids can’t hear you. It’s kind of like that college atmosphere, which is neat. ”

Now, the teams are playing for more than just bragging rights.

” The Civil War trophy (has been) awarded to the winner of each game, ” Crum said. ” It’s got on it every winner from the very first game in 1979. ”

That trophy has been in the Cougars’ possession for the last three years. Mountain View also has a leg up in the all-time series. The Cougars have 23 wins, compared to the Lava Bears’ 17. The Cougars are scoring 21.5 points per game on average compared to the Lava Bears’ 20.2 points per game. The Lava Bears, however, have the series’ longest win streak at nine games.

This year, the stakes are raised.

” This game means everything, ” said Nate Denny, a junior running back and safety for the Lava Bears. ” This could tell playoffs for both teams, so there’s just more on the line — even more than just the Civil War, which is a huge deal to our team, and the town, honestly. ”

The outcome of Friday’s game will determine which team moves onto the playoffs, and which team’s season is over. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. NewsChannel 21’s Max Goldwasser will bring you all the highlights Friday night at 11 p.m. on The Big Playback.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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