OK then, how would you like to play against the 11th-ranked Ricks College Vikings in a game called the Centennial Bowl during their centennial year celebration?
This blatant trap has been baited with the 6-3 Walla Walla (Wash.) Warriors, Ricks' opponent at the second annual junior college post-season game. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Idaho State University's Minidome.This game actually commemorates Idaho's upcoming 100th anniversary, but try to tell the Rexburg-based Vikings, or their head coach, Ron Haun, that.
"We set this (a Centennial Bowl victory in the college's centennial year) as a goal at the start of the season," Haun said. "We've played all year with this in mind."
And played well - most of the time. They are 8-2, sole runner-up in the tough Western States Football League and are nationally ranked. Walla Walla's resume isn't as impressive, though the Warriors eked out a league title with a 4-2 record and a bunch of close wins.
For motivation then, Ricks has Homecoming-type emotion, Walla Walla has revenge. The first Centennial Bowl last year matched these same teams, and Ricks, on a 1-yard TD run with 30 seconds remaining, came from behind to win, 42-38.
It was a banged-up Ricks team missing more than a third of its starters last year. This time, leading rusher Lloyd Rokeni, out with a knee injury, will be the only Viking first-stringer who won't play. And his 449 yards over the season won't be missed too badly on a team that averages more than 300 yards passing per game.
Ricks is the more explosive of the two teams this year. The Vikings averaged 36 points (and 460 yards) a game; Walla Walla didn't reach the 30-point level even once.
The Vikings successfully use a two-quarterback rotation. Tom English, son of former BYU and pro assistant coach Wally English, is the deep threat, with 98 completions for 1,566 yards and 8 TDs. Brian Downey is better with the short game - he has 104 completions for 1,323 yards and 16 scores. Haun uses them interchangably, as well as in specialized situations.
Ricks' offensive prowess has also benefited placekicker Dave Lauder of Centerville, who broke the school's single-season scoring record with 13 field goals and 38 PATs for 77 points. Another top performer has been tight end Eric Moss, who has caught 11 TD passes and boasts an astounding (for a TE) 20-yards-per-catch average.
The scores in games against the teams' one common opponent would seem to point to a well-matched Centennial Bowl. Walla Walla defeated Spokane Falls CC twice, 23-20 at home and 20-17 on the road, while Ricks beat the same team 23-21 Oct. 22 at Spokane.