Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 | 2 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back for another high school football discussion. They look at all the matchups this week and spend extra time on the Southeast, which begins league play this week.
Basic High quarterback Eddie Vega walked out to the practice field Tuesday holding the Henderson Bowl trophy, placing it on a table near midfield on the Wolf Pack sideline so his teammates could be reminded this is no ordinary week of practice.
The 21st installment of Henderson Bowl, the annual football game between Basic and Green Valley highs, is 7 p.m. Friday at Green Valley. And, if history repeats itself, expect a hard-hitting and emotional contest between two schools that don’t hide their feelings toward each other.
“It’s just the level of hate the two schools have for each other,” Vega said. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us.”
The rivalry is packed with history and tradition, arguably more than any other rivalry game in Nevada. Some of those traditions are obvious when stepping onto Basic’s practice field.
On years when Basic has possession of the trophy, it sits on the same table in the same spot for practice during the week of the game. The table is gravely empty on years when the trophy is at Green Valley.
Green Valley leads the all-time series 12-8 thanks to its domination in the mid-to-late 1990s, when the Gators won six games in a row. But Basic has won the past three contests, the most consecutive games it has won in the rivalry.
Last year, Basic rallied in the fourth quarter for a 32-31 victory in the final game of the season. The loss is still a fresh in the memory in the minds of the Green Valley players.
“It was tough seeing all of the seniors crying last year after the game and how close it was,” said Sean Ferraro, a senior wide receiver and defensive back. “Ever since then, I have just had that fire.”
Although several rivalry games throughout Southern Nevada have lost its luster over the years — the Bone Game between Rancho and Las Vegas is typically never competitive and won by Las Vegas 15 straight years — the Henderson Bowl has always remained the most significant game of the season for these two schools.
And not just for the players. The stands on both sides will be packed with families and supporters from the community.
“A lot of it has to do with both schools having a sense of community to them,” said Basic coach Jeff Cahill, a graduate of the school who played in the first Henderson Bowl in 1991. “Basic definitely has a sense of community, and we have a lot of alumni and other supporters who look forward to this game. Green Valley has built the same thing over there. It’s ingrained in the kids and their parents (at both schools) that Basic and Green Valley is a great rivalry.”
It hasn’t always been that important for Green Valley.
Basic was Henderson’s lone high school from the 1940s until Green Valley opened in 1991 to create a natural rivalry. Basic was the blue-collar school in an older part of the city, while Green Valley was more upscale and white-collar in a brand new part of the city that was widely considered one of the best places to live in Southern Nevada.
Green Valley dominated Basic in every sport, especially in football where it won the Henderson Bowl from 1994 to 1999 by mostly lopsided scores — in 1994, for instance, Green Valley won 64-0.
Since 1999, however, the rivalry is basically even, with Green Valley holding a slim 6-5 edge. It’s created a game the players on both teams have circled on their calendars.
“This is like the Super Bowl for high schools around here,” Basic senior lineman Perry Williams said. “Basic and Green Valley have always been rivals and they always will be. This is what we play for. It is the stamp that says who is the best.”
Green Valley High senior running back Aaron Love remembers attending his first Henderson Bowl game when he was a seventh-grader. A dynamic and fast running back, he’ll likely be the best player on the field.
However he’s simply happy to be in playing in the game. Last year, he was injured in the week before the Henderson Bowl and was forced to watch from the sideline as his team lost by one point.
“This is the biggest rivalry in town,” Love said. “I’ve been watching this game for years and had family play in this game. It’s finally my turn. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get out there.
The game will have a little extra importance this year because it will be the first Southeast Division game for both teams. After both missed the playoffs last year, a victory could give the winning team an edge later in the season during a playoff push.
Green Valley’s strength is on offense, where it has scored 84 points in two games. But the Gators (1-1) surrendered 52 points in losing their first game and defense could be a liability against a Basic offense that has averaged more than 35 points a game the past three years in the Henderson Bowl.
Basic (1-1) lost to Cimarron-Memorial in its opener by seven points, fumbling three times inside Cimarron territory. Last week, Basic handled Rancho, 46-0.
Once the game begins, however, stats and past records aren’t important. That’s something Green Valley coach Brian Castro has been preaching to his players in terms of the record three-game losing streak to Basic.
“We aren’t focusing too much on what has happened in the past,” Castro said. “We are trying to get better every game. As long as we get better and take care of what we need to take care of, I think we will be OK. To put a negative spin on it and emphasize what happened in the past doesn’t help us get to where we are going.”
Come Friday, Vega will again walk the trophy onto the field, leaving it on a table behind one of the endzones for the winning team to claim after the game.
Yes, this will be no ordinary week on the local prep gridiron.