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Southridge Versus Mountainside: The First Chapter

A new story is being written as both teams take the field for Friday Night Lights

Kyle Pinnell

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In 1999 Southridge High School opened up its doors, drawing kids from nearby Beaverton High School with the newest facilities and the opportunity to start something new. A rivalry then ensued.

Now, almost two decades later, a new high school has opened up, drawing kids from Southridge who want to be a part of something new at a school with some of the best athletic facilities in the state. Everything’s happening all over again. So how long until the rivalry begins?

A new story is being written this Friday night, and when both teams step onto the field, they will get the opportunity to write the first chapter.

 

There are many different ways that this Southridge-Mountainside matchup could become a rivalry. There’s familiarity, with a majority of the players on both sides growing up together and going to the same school. There’s also the location that plays a role. Southridge and Beaverton have had a long-standing rivalry, and they’re about as far apart as Southridge and Mountainside. While it may not be a rivalry in the Southridge-Beaverton sense yet, it has the potential to become one fairly soon.

One person who loves the idea of a good rivalry is Southridge head coach Kevin Bickler.

He mentioned that he could see the excitement and buzz in his students this week who were talking about it in class. He can also see the excitement among his players who get to play this rivalry game as the Andrew J. Keller Memorial Game.

At the beginning of the week, he made sure to let his players know that it was rivalry week. He even mentioned that in due time he’d love to see some sort of award that goes back and forth between winners, kind of like the Apple Cup or the Platypus Trophy.

“What I want to see it become is a healthy, competitive rivalry in which we bring the community together every year,” Bickler said.

However, for game one with Southridge as the favorites, they have just one goal: to win.

“I think the most important thing for us is going in and making sure we get a win,” junior wide receiver Joshua Calo said.” “We knew we could’ve come out on top against Grants Pass and Sunset, so the most important thing for us is going into [the game] and not overthinking it, not being overconfident, just going in and getting a win to build momentum for the rest of the season.”

For Mountainside, they’re only worried about how they play. In only their fifth game at the varsity level, head coach John Mannion wants to establish an identity.

“Our mindset is pretty much like it’s been every week. We’re going to establish our identity as a team that hustles, plays hard, and supports each other and battles until the end,” Mannion said. “We know Southridge is a very talented team, a very veteran team with players who have been out there for a long time. We will do our best to match up and play our best.”

One thing Mountainside will be playing with is an age deficit. With Mountainside being the newest school in the district, they do not yet have a senior class. Southridge will have the benefit of more experience, especially those who have grown up through the program. However, having more experience and size isn’t the end-all-be-all.

“All it means is that a ton of guys are getting experience by necessity. We have eleven sophomores that are playing full time on the varsity,” Mannion said. “It’s just that when you’re missing a senior class, it creates a sort of domino effect and a lack of depth, but we’re super happy with the guys who are out there, they’re giving it their all for sure, but we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on doing what we can to the best of our abilities, and we aren’t looking for excuses or using that as a crutch. We’re just trying to establish our brand as a program and continue to build. I think that good things are in store for this program if we can keep doing that.”

The Mavericks have also suffered some injuries that cut into their depth. On Friday night they will be starting their second-string quarterback, Justin Hughes after starter Robert Pribula was forced out with a broken hand.

“He’s just a different style,” junior running back Nick Pontrelli said. “More mobile, more of a wildcat-ish quarterback, but he’s still great in the pocket, accurate for long ball, short ball, anything. I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a bit younger as a sophomore, but that hasn’t stopped us so far.”


Mandatory Credit-Christopher Oertell (Beaverton Valley Times)

Despite the lack of depth from Mountainside, Bickler still expects the game to be a challenge. One thing Bickler made sure to point out was how hard Mountainside plays. Two of the Mavericks first four losses have been by less than a touchdown.

“They play aggressive, and their coach has them motivated to play hard. What we have to do is match the intensity, and we have to play to what we’re capable of because if the game is tight, then any little bit of sliver of hope or momentum they’re going to really excited about because I know they’re hungry for a varsity win,” Bickler said. “We have to understand that they’re going to go out and play to win, be really aggressive, and we’re going to need to match that intensity and aggressiveness.”

The Maverick’s lack of depth will not be an excuse, at least among their players and coaching staff. Next year they will field a full varsity team with players who will have already experienced playing at the highest level.

“At this point in the game we can’t really let not having seniors affect our mindset too much even though we’re the younger team and everything,” Pontrelli said. “We just gotta stay scrappy and play like we would with seniors. We can’t let it affect us that much; it’s just kind of the reality of the situation. It’s not even adapting at this point; it’s just playing our game and controlling the things we can control.”

For Southridge, the biggest challenge might be making sure not to be overconfident or let anything get to their heads.

“We just want to go out there and dominate physically,” Calo said. “We know that we have the team speed and team size to be able to do that so we just want to make sure that we play at the high level we’re capable of and not letting on-paper what could be a lesser opponent make us play down. We want to continue playing at a high level that we know we can play at.”


Mandatory Credit-Christopher Oertell (Beaverton Valley Times)

The most unique part about this game is just how many Mountainside players have grown up playing for Southridge either at the youth level or during freshman year. With Mountainside pulling so many kids from the area, it will be odd for some players to step back on the field where they’ve spent so much time in the past.

One example is Pontrelli. Pontrelli grew up going to Skyhawk games because two of his brothers played varsity under former head coach Brad Mastrud. When the youngest Pontrelli brother, Nick, steps back onto the field on Friday night, he expects to be hit by a wave of nostalgia.

“It’s bittersweet,” Pontrelli said. “I had a lot of fun at Southridge when I played there, but I’m glad to be at Mountainside. I really like the program that we have going on over here, I really like the group of guys, and at the same time it’s a very different team at Southridge.”

Having grown up together and through attending a majority of the same middle schools, the players also know one another very well. That just adds to the competitive fire.

“I think they know a lot of the kids and players over there and when you’re competing against someone that you know on a personal level and you’re a competitive person, in general, you want to beat them,” Bickler said. “You throw in the rivalry game and it’s something that our kids want to win badly and something that our kids will want to win badly every single year.”

Pride could end up being the biggest factor in the game as neither team wants to lose, especially against kids that they know very well.

“It’s definitely a matter of pride,” Pontrelli said. “It’s going to be a whole year until we get the chance to prove ourselves out there again so we got to try our best to make an impact. We can’t let this be held over our heads.”

Heading into Friday night there will be some interesting trends for both teams.

In the five years of playing a game dedicated to Andrew Keller, the Skyhawks have not won; that is one factor that Bickler has stressed in one of his team meetings this week. The Skyhawks have also never won a home game under Bickler (0-5). Finally, Mountainside is winless on the season and are hungry for their first. There’s a lot of statistics that will butt heads in this first rivalry game.

For the Hawks, their Andrew Keller games have been some of their most difficult home games of the season. Whether it be state powerhouses Jesuit or Lake Oswego, the schedule makers have not been kind to them.

“I know there’s a lot of other things attached to this game in particular, but we have our hands full with doing our thing and that’s what we’re focused on,” Mannion said.

For the Skyhawks? Well, they just want to get the job done.

“Once we get on the field it’s all business and we just got to make sure that we’re taking care of business and most importantly getting the win because that’s what we’re here to do,” Calo said.

With this being the first game ever played between the two teams, each player is a part of history, just like those who took the field two decades ago as the Skyhawks played the Beavers for the first time. I mean, what better way is there to begin a story than at home under the lights on a Friday night?

“I know we’re the heavy underdogs in this game as we should be, but we’re erasing it,” Mannion said. “When people leave the stadium they’ll be able to look and see our program and have a sense of what we’re all about.”

“This is going to be a game that is going to be fun for years to come,” Bickler concluded.

 

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