The two biggest football rivalry games in Idaho Falls take place this weekend with the aptly named Civil War between Hillcrest and Bonneville, and the Emotion Bowl between Idaho Falls and Skyline headlining Week 7.
Hillcrest plays at Bonneville Friday at 7 p.m. and Skyline vs. Idaho Falls is 4 p.m. Saturday at Ravsten Stadium.
The biggest question entering the weekend may not be who’s the favorite to win or how the teams match up, but whether either game is really a rivalry anymore.
The Emotion Bowl was first played in 1966, but recent history favors Skyline, with the Grizzlies winning the past six meetings and eight of the last nine.
Longtime Skyline coach Scott Berger noted he’s been on both sides of winning and losing streaks in the rivalry, but the one constant has been what the game means to both schools.
“It’s just special for the kids, especially the senior kids,” he said. “You want to win that game.”
Skyline is ranked No. 1 in the state media 4A poll and Idaho Falls is still trying to get its first win this year since moving up to 5A.
On paper, the matchups favor the Grizzlies (5-1), but the Tigers come off arguably their best overall game of the season against 5A power Rigby. Despite the loss, Idaho Falls coach Marty Duffin said the team played better, especially on the offensive end.
Berger said he’s not concerned who has the better record or ranking.
“We beat them in 1990 and 1991 and they went on to win a state championship those years,” he said.
Most years, the Emotion Bowl would live up to its name just because fans from both schools filled Ravsten Stadium and weren’t shy about making noise.
Spectators will be limited this year because of COVID-19 guidelines, but Berger said that shouldn’t dampen the atmosphere.
“With COVID, I’m just glad we get to play,” he said.
The Bonneville vs. Hillcrest Civil War also has a team searching for its first win.
“This is a classic David vs. Goliath game,” said Bees coach Kevin Kempf, whose young squad is 0-5 and 0-2 in conference.
Kempf noted the size disparity between the Bees and Knights. Hillcrest, known for its power running game, also has the experience and features one of the area’s top running backs in Tre Kofe.
Hillcrest (3-3, 1-1), coming off a 15-14 loss to Blackfoot last week, needs a win to keep pace with Skyline and Blackfoot in the conference race. Unlike the Idaho Falls vs. Skyline game, the Civil War does have conference implications.
It also has a streak on the line.
Hillcrest has won six straight and 11 of the past 12 meetings.
“I downplay it honestly,” Hillcrest coach Kevin Meyer said of the rivalry. “It’s all about fundamentals. There’s a lot of hype, but to be honest, they’re just the next opponent up and we respect them and we want to play hard and be fundamentally sound.
“The hype is all good before, but once we kick off, that’s all done,” he said.
“We have nothing to lose,” Kempf said. “We just want to go out there and play loose.”
The Bees have struggled on offense and hurt themselves with turnovers, but come off their most competitive game of the season, a 21-13 loss to a Shelley team that gave Hillcrest all it could handle two weeks ago.