A new Southridge tradition steeped in years of history

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A new Southridge tradition steeped in years of history

Kyle Pinnell

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Many years ago, Craig Ruecker, one of Oregon’s most successful high school football coaches, wanted to turn a run-of-the-mill spring scrimmage into something a little more exciting. The idea was to split his team up and have the two teams play against one another. However, Ruecker did not want the game to be like any other spring practice game, so he decided to raise the stakes. The winner of the scrimmage would get to enjoy a feast of chicken, beans, and other barbecue delicacies while the losers would only be allowed the beans. He called this event the “Chicken and Bean Bowl.”

The idea was a success, and over time, more and more programs decided to adopt some form of the event. At Southridge, that event takes on a different title: “The Burger and Bean Bowl.” It was introduced to the program three years ago when current head coach Kevin Bickler–who played under Ruecker at Glencoe– took over.

“A lot of people who have had a relationship with Ruecker or who have coached with him, they really like what he does, and he knows how to run a program of excellence,” Bickler said. “When I became a head coach, I wanted to start something to kind of get more fans in the stands in the spring and get our kids excited about coming out for football.”

This Friday night, the third annual Burger and Bean Bowl will take place out on the football field. The younger teams will play at six o’ clock while the varsity team will play at seven.

The Burger and Bean Bowl is just like a regular season game, but with a continuously running clock. The score will be kept, offense and defense will be played, and there will be referees. The winning team will be treated to burgers, beans, and a delicious potluck afterward while the losers have to go through first and have nothing but beans.

Of course, like any other game, it wouldn’t be football if it didn’t have at least a little bit of a competitive aspect. The smack talk begins as soon as rosters are posted in the locker rooms and continues until the game.

“It’s a lot of talking back and forth,” incoming senior Katsuo Steward said. “The competition gets crazy and the competitiveness between each other, even though we’re still a team, gets crazy.”

“They talk a lot of smack and then we wear our jersey’s to school on Friday just like a normal high-school week,” Bickler added. “Just the competitiveness of the kids is memorable for me.”

The whole purpose of having an event like the Burger and Bean Bowl is to wrap up the two-week spring season while allowing players to implement and execute what they learned at practices. It also allows coaches to see how players will react in a game atmosphere while getting a look at some of the newer players. One player that Bickler remembers leaving an impact on him was freshman Nomani Blue.

“I was pleasantly surprised by that and one of those freshmen ended up playing in a varsity game for us and did really well, that was Nomani Blue, he came out and performed very well,” Bickler said. “It shows that the spring is a time for some kids that maybe you’re unsure of, but can step up and prove themselves as capable of competing at the varsity level.”

Despite the game being quite a competitive affair, Bickler said that he enjoys the camaraderie of it, especially being able to eat with players, families, and friends. Steward agreed while also adding that having a brief taste of football action months ahead of the season makes him excited.

“I just like that we get to compete so early at full speed against each other and come together as a team,” he said. “For me, I’m always just waiting for football to come around, so when spring football comes, it’s my chance to go full speed.”

The motto for the football team this season is “all in,” and it all begins with the spring season. While the Burger and Bean Bowl seems like a fun scrimmage, it means more than that for both players and coaches involved. It was a concept that Ruecker came up with years ago, but one that has stood the test of time and is now a spring football staple at Southridge High School.


This year’s Burger and Bean Bowl roster