With the series tied 3-3, both Legacy and Arbor View are ready for Battle of the Bulls

Posted: September 26, 2013 in Preps
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Amid all the sports posters on Arbor View assistant coach Sam Toomer’s wall, nothing else mattered than the Battle of the Bulls trophy, which Arbor and Legacy will play for.

By W.G. Ramirez

FOR A FULL RECAP – STORY AND VIDEO – visit MyLVSports.com!

Last year Arbor View High School football coach Dan Barnson forgot to pull the Battle of the Bulls trophy out of the school trophy case for the Saturday team meeting before the Aggies’ annual showdown with Legacy.

This year the horns were present.

“The kids need to see it,” Barnson said, of the trophy. “They need to see it, they need to touch it – it’s an important thing. This year it’s Thursday night … and it’s fun. It’s a great competition and the trophy means something to these kids.”

To say the least, as the Longhorns and Aggies started the traditional trophy game seven years ago.  Legacy won the first three meetings, and Arbor View has won the last three. Thursday night, one of these schools will be 4-3 in the series.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Greg Wolfram, Arbor View High’s athletic administrator. “This game isn’t just about football, it’s about school spirit. I think everybody is aware it’s the Battle of the Bulls. Being it’s on TV … and its Battle of the Bulls … it’s pretty big.”

THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

It’s not ESPN or Fox Sports, but when the teams kickoff Thursday night, they’ll be under the local television lights, as My LVTV’s weekly Thursday Night Lights broadcast is the Battle of the Bulls.

Local on-air talent Brian Blessing and Kenny White from ESPN Radio provide play-by-play commentary, while Steph McKenzie from 97.1 The Point provides sideline reporting during the game. It’ll mark the second straight week the Longhorns have been on the broadcast, as the TV crew was at Mojave last week for Legacy’s 27-6 victory against the Rattlers.

In past years the My LVTV crew has noted during the broadcast about Arbor View’s notorious Grateful Red section, which rivals any school’s fan section in town – whether the Aggies are at home or on the road.

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Arbor View High School’s Grateful Red section is one of the most spirited in Southern Nevada, whether at home or on the road. Photo: Kayla Faircloth

“We’re fortunate and it’s always been like that,” Barnson said. “We’ve always had a great fan base and support from the community, and we feel we want to put the product out there now to support the fan base.

“We get to promote our school, promote the kids, promote our fan base, the band – this is not just Arbor View football on Thursday night, this is the whole community of Arbor View and that’s the fun thing.”

This year Legacy arguably has one of its best programs since the school opened, and the enthusiasm has senior running back Casey Hughes believing his Longhorns will be well-represented for the drive up I-215, from North 5th Street to Buffalo and Grand Teton.

“We set the tone for the school ’cause we’re the football team,” Hughes said. “Student Council and other activities and sports are supporting football more this year than in the past.”

Added Arbor View senior Devon Turner: “Having it on TV just goes along with the horns.”

THE FRIENDSHIP

What most may not realize is the friendship Barnson and Legacy coach Dave Snyder share, as the two have known one another since they were six years old. They went to elementary school together, went to the same middle school and both attended the same high school.

Their fathers were legends in this town and coached against one another. Now they’re doing the same.

“Everybody has their rivalries, and Dan and I are good friends,” Snyder said. “But once the kickoff starts, we’re at war. And we both look at it the same way. After the football game we’ll shake hands.”

Added Barnson: “He’s one of my truly good friends. I can call Coach Snyder anytime. For one week we have to put everything aside, and we lay it on the line.”

And as much as the two enjoy the rivalry, and camaraderie it continues to build each year, Barnson said it’s not an easy game to coach in either.

“The flipside is it’s harder; you don’t want to beat a friend, you don’t want to lose to a friend,” Barnson said. “If they beat us he knows how I feel. If I beat him I know how he feels.”

BATTLE OF THE BULLS

Ultimately, past all the build-up, social-media trash talking, television hype and even the trophy, it comes down to the actual game, the actual Battle of the Bulls – the Arbor View Aggies and Legacy Longhorns.

And this year figures to be a dandy, with Legacy arriving with arguably the town’s most talented running back (Hughes) to face an Arbor View defense that has locked down Centennial and Coronado in consecutive weeks.

The Aggies, ranked second in the Southern Nevada Football Coaches Poll, has allowed a mere seven points in two games, and rolls into this one fresh off their 42-0 whitewash at Coronado.

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Legacy’s Casey Hughes ranks No. 1 among Division I rushers with 584 yards, while averaging 13.9 ypg.

“We’re both ball-control teams, and whoever does the best will probably come out on top,” said Snyder, whose Longhorns are ranked 8th this week in the poll. “We need to make sure our time of possession is there and we control the line of scrimmage.”

An understatement for sure, as the Longhorns would love nothing more than to open holes for Hughes, who leads all Division I rushers with 584 yards after three games. Hughes is averaging 13.9 yards per carry and has seven touchdowns.

“They are one explosive team,” Barnson said. “They can go; on any play, they can go. It’s that old mentality, try to get ’em before they get going, and if we can get to ’em before they get going I think we’re gonna do okay. They’re big up front. They have a lot of returning linemen who have went against us and what we do and we haven’t changed anything we do. It should be exciting; we just have to stop their big play.”

Turner, who doubles as a running back and defensive back for the Aggies, said he’s been impressed by the effort of his teammates at practice all week.

“It’s the fastest I’ve ever seen us practice; everyone is pretty excited,” Turner said. “And we’re focused on beating their team as a whole team. We recognize Casey as one of their top assets; you can’t approach a game against Legacy and not respect him. But we also know what our defense is capable of.”

As does Hughes, who acknowledged the same respect toward the Aggies.

“I’m not going to take anything for granted,” Hughes said. “I know they can be a physical team, but we can be just as physical and get the job done. When we lost to Palo Verde (two weeks ago), the good thing was we went out and took practice serious. Now we know how we have to prepare for that type of team, and can focus on a team like Arbor View.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Whether in person at Arbor View, or watching on My LVTV, this is one annual rivalry prep football enthusiasts, classmates and even alumni don’t want to miss.

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