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Storm, Comets kick off TRAC North play

Between them, Bureau Valley (5) and Sterling Newman (4) won nine Big Rivers Conference championships, from 1999 to 2012 when the Three Rivers Athletic Conference merged with the Tri-County Conference. Newman won the final Big Rivers title prior to the re-emergence of Three Rivers football this year.

Now they’re going to try a Three Rivers North Division battle on for size. The Week 3 match-up is the first in the division for both teams after two weeks of crossover contests with the South Division. The Saturday evening meeting is the BCR’s Game of the Week for Week 3 of the 2013 season.

“The game should be a good one, both teams are 1-1,” BV coach Jeff Ohlson said. “They are physical, run the ball and do not throw it a lot. They are good on defense and get to the football.  We will need to continue to execute and make plays when we need to. We will need to match their physicality and toughness.”

Any loss at Newman is a surprise to most football followers in this part of the state. The Comets got off to a rare 21-9 Week 1 defeat to Rockridge, 21-7, their first opening-day loss since 2007 to Morrison.

Longtime Newman coach Mike Papoccia said his Comets bounced back nicely at Princeton last week with a 61-7 rout over the Tigers.

“I was proud of the young men how they rebounded after such a disaster the first week,” he said, while noting after the game to his players, not to be satisfied with it, “or it’s all over.”

The Storm will be in need of a bounce-back game of their own, having watched a 25-14 lead turn into 29-25 defeat.

“Every week is a must win week, so this is no different,” Ohlson said. “Kids are resilient, they are ready to forget the past and move on to this week. In the Three Rivers, you can’t think about last week, because the next game will be a war we have to prepare for.”

BV junior Parker Neuhalfen has settled in nicely as the starting quarterback for the Storm. He has rushed for three touchdowns (39-190) and thrown for two scores (12-29, 219). He’s surrounded by backs Tommy Johnston (8 catches, 191 yards, 2 TDs) and Tucker Schoff (22-169, 2 TDs) and a strong line headed by Justin Buckman, Martin McMahon and Andrew Jacobs.

“BV creates a lot of problems for us because they are so athletic and well coached. They play extremely hard and as a team while making few mistakes. It should be a great game,” Papoccia said.

Notes: The two schools have five state championships (Newman 4, BV 1) and eight title-game appearances (Newman 7, BV 2) between them.

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