The aptly named Emotion Bowl got its name for a reason.
Since 1966, the series between Idaho Falls and Skyline has featured Hail Mary touchdowns, goal-line stands, double-digit leads that have crumbled, overtime drama, and plenty of heartbreak and celebration.
Skyline coach Scott Berger can attest to the rivalry’s long history.
“It’s special,” Berger said before a practice this week. “This is a big game.”
“It’s definitely a big game for us,” Idaho Falls coach Marty Duffin added. “It’s probably the biggest rivalry in town still.”
The two teams meet tonight at 7 p.m. at Ravsten Stadium. While the adrenaline will be flowing early on as Skyline tries to extend its five-game win streak in the series, the end result will have crucial implications in the 4A District 6 race.
The Tigers (1-3, 1-0) picked up their first win of the season last week against Shelley to open conference play. This will be the first conference game for the Grizzlies (2-2), but the team also comes off a big win, rallying last week for a 21-14 victory at 5A Madison.
Idaho Falls running back Spencer Moore said the team’s win last week should build some momentum, but the week leading up to the Emotion Bowl already provides plenty of motivation on its own.
“I’ve never won one,” he said, noting Skyline’s recent win streak.
Skyline’s five straight wins is the longest in the series since 1988, when Idaho Falls won six straight.
If the Tigers are to get back in the series win column, it will likely be on the shoulders of Moore. The senior has been a workhorse in the team’s running game and even added two receiving touchdowns last week.
Skyline’s offense is orchestrated by quarterback Cruz Taylor, who can burn defenses through the air and with his legs. He has multiple weapons with running back Luke Ruiz, who ran for 111 yards in last year’s Emotion Bowl and scored the winning touchdown last week against Madison. Connor Maloney is another weapon the Grizzlies use to their advantage.
“He’s a dual-threat quarterback,” Duffin said of Taylor. “So our focus is hopefully trying to keep him in check running and throwing because you just can’t try to shut down one or the other. He can do both.”
“We have a lot of stuff we can do,” Taylor said. “We have so many weapons.”
Taylor also noted Skyline can use its speed to its advantage.
Idaho Falls prefers the power rushing attack with Moore leading the charge.
“You have to be ready to stop that or it’s going to be a long night,” Berger said of the Tigers’ running game.
In last week's win over Shelley, the Tigers put the ball in the air with Tagg Miller throwing for 223 yards and three scores. The Skyline defense may have to make adjustments if Idaho Falls tries to balance out its attack.
Ironically, the key to winning the Emotion Bowl might be toning down the emotion, both coaches noted.
“Once you get on the field, you have to play and everybody tends to have high emotions,” Duffin said. “After the first five or six plays, everybody calms down and plays football.”