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History And A River Between Them
Mini-Cassia rivals Burley and Minico each enter their big week three matchup undefeated and ready to make a statement.
Published: 9/6/2018 2:38:54 PM

What do motorcycles, parachuting, cannons, helicopters and pyrotechnics have in common? If you guessed a Burton family reunion, you would be close. However, when it comes to pomp and circumstance, there is only one football rivalry in Idaho where all of these elements collide. 

The Minico/Burley matchup is one of the most anticipated, heated and especially recently, lopsided, football rivalries you’ll encounter. That doesn’t mean the Mini-Cassia area won’t shut down for a few hours though as the red and green collide this Friday night in Rupert.

Over the past 109 years, this matchup has been highly anticipated. Word has it that some of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s stopped their bickering to attend one of these games. That’s how big the Minico and Burley rivalry has always been. 

Forget that Minico holds a whopping 73-36 series advantage. Forget that Minico has won the past 13 games. Forget that last year the Spartans shut out the Bobcats 42-0. Each year holds new hope, a new team and a new chance to hold the gridiron bragging rights in the valley.  

“This game is never about records or who has done what. Every year this game is circled because every year the other team wants to come out victorious. It is unlike any other sport. We see each other once a year and have to wait a whole year to see each other again,” said Minico head coach Keelan McCaffrey. 

This particular season brings something to the table that hasn’t happened since 2001: both teams are undefeated. Granted, both are 2-0 and the season is still in the infancy stage and we have no idea how each of these squads are going to mature, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t hear the whispers.  

“Could this be the year?”

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s break down this matchup.  

Minico enters Friday’s contest with two blowout wins over Kirtland (NM) and Wood River. In those two games, the Spartans averaged 46 points per game and only gave up seven.  

Meanwhile, Burley squeaked out its home opener against conference foe Jerome and then grabbed a road win at Buhl. In those two games, the Bobcats averaged close to 35 points while surrendering just over 20 per game. Burley scored 29 points against Jerome alone in the opener. Those 29 points were more than the offense scored in any of their nine games last year. 

For the longest time this game featured Tim Perrigot at Minico against the revolving door of coaches who donned the Burley sideline. With Perrigot gone, the reigns find the hands of a first year head coach and former Spartan, Keelan McCaffrey. In two games, McCaffrey hasn’t missed a beat and it has become business as usual for Minico. In fact, Coach McCaffrey played in this rivalry game and knows all too well the hype that can engulf young players.  

Across the way you’ll find second year head coach Tony Cade. Albeit just his second year as a Bobcat, he brings a lot of coaching experience to the boys in green. With a head coaching stop in American Falls and eight years as an assistant in Blackfoot, Coach Cade has been around a lot of football. He understands the grinds of a season and how to keep composed under the bright lights. Both of these coaches bring energy and positivity to the field and both of these programs are heading in the right direction. The energy from both teams will be electric. In fact, you can expect more jumping around on these sidelines than you’d find at a trampoline convention. (See what I did there?)

Burley has a talented dual-threat quarterback in Ethan Gibbons and is coming off a passing performance where he threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for an additional 92 yards on 11 carries. Riley Stephens, Alex Ramos and Brayden Bowen represent some of the go-to weapons surrounding the junior quarterback. On defense, Luis Gomez was impressive out of the backfield against Buhl last week, picking off two passes thrown by Indians quarterback Jade Juker.

Minico romped all over Wood River last week 51-7 and the player that stood out in that game shouldn’t surprise many people. Colter May had 135 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and was joined in the end zone on the night by Connor Stocking, Rylan Chandler and McKay Chandler. Greyson Harwood is a standout offensive lineman. On defense, the Spartans returned everyone except a couple members of the defensive line from their state runner-up team of a season ago. May and Francisco Paz highlight the secondary, with Kasen Jones at linebacker and Mason Harwood leading the charge on the defensive line. 

This might be the area where the game is decided. 

We all know that the trenches are where games are won and lost. Seasons are prolonged because the horses up front move people around. It’s hard to ride the carousel if it ain’t got no ponies. Minico returns nine of 11 defensive starters and most of the offensive line is intact. Burley has just one returning offensive lineman. However, according to Coach Cade, this new unit on the offensive line has come along very quickly and is showing they can play some power football. The Bobcats also feature a compliment of talented skill players who possess speed—the one thing that can help neutralize the middle.  

Winning breeds winning. So does losing. These two programs have been polar opposites of each other for years. When Tim Perrigot took over in 1996, success didn’t happen immediately. A culture of winning isn’t born overnight. It takes time. It takes buy-in. It takes support. Minico has grown Spartan Nation over the past couple of decades under Perrigot. Now McCaffrey, with a fairly full cupboard, hopes to keep the tradition intact.  

Meanwhile, there is something different in the air over in Burley. An attitude. A belief. A community hungry for wins on the gridiron. A quick 2-0 start has generated some excitement that hasn’t been this palpable for years. When the Bobcats walk onto Bill Mathews Field on Friday night, you’ll see something you haven’t seen in a while; a swagger.

Can you hear the whispers?

Scott Burton and Mike Savage will be on the call for the Burley at Minico football game this week. LINK TO WATCH



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