If the Bureau Valley Storm are going to win the Three Rivers Rock Conference championship this year, they know the path lies through Sterling Newman. They’ll get their shot at the Comets Friday night.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Sterling High School’s Roscoe Eades Stadium for the BCR Game of the Week.
Newman, which came back to the Rock Division after a two-year stay on the Mississippi side, stands 3-0 atop the league followed by Fulton (2-0) and Rockridge (2-1) with the Storm and Orion both checking in at 1-1.
BV senior captain/lineman Cale Buysse said the Storm are ready to “Bolt Up” and get after it.
“It’s gonna be a huge week of practice for us. We broke down film on Newman (Monday) and they are no doubt a good team, but it’s not the same Newman team we have seen in the past,” Buysse said.
“Coach (Craig) Johnson always says you know it’s going to be a special year when you beat your biggest rivalry team Newman. It’s going to be a special year and that really has our guys excited to go out and put our best game of football together of the year.”
Fellow senior captain Dan Schoff is recovering from a concussion and unlikely to play. He’s still helping the Storm prepare mentally for a Comets team he said they know is a strong, disciplined team as they always seem to have.
“All I have to say to my guys is we have to practice this week knowing we are going up against a strong team and we have to play like we have nothing to lose,” he said.
The Comets (5-0) are coming off a come-from-behind 22-21 win over Rockridge Saturday, a game they trailed 15-0. The Rockridge defense limited the vaunted Comets’ offense such (225) that veteran coach Mike Papoccia had to dust off the playbook of the Comets option game, which accounted for the game-tying and winning touchdowns.
“We saw it was open and went for it,” Papoccia said. “We don’t run it very much – maybe two or three times a night in practice is all. We used to run nothing but option, but we’ve kind of went away from that – it looks like we need to run it more, I guess.”
The Storm defense will have to contain Comets speedy back Easton Biancchi, who was the IHSA 100- and 200-meter 1A state track champion last spring. Held to 87 yards overall, he raced 67 yards for the game-tying TD out of the option.
Quarterback Landon Vesley, an ISU recruit, later tucked the ball in when Rockridge focused on Biancchi and raced 64 yards to paydirt to give Newman the lead for good early in the fourth quarter.
“We are gonna have to work extremely hard Friday night and not let Bianchi get to the edge. Our guys are ready to go out and give it everything we have,” Buysse said.
“Biancchi has elite speed. If he gets in the open field he’s gone. No one is catching him,” first-year BV coach Joe Schmitt said.
Most importantly, Schmitt said the Storm will have to take care of their own business first.
“We are excited for the opportunity to play Newman. We are focused on ourselves and working to improve each and every day,” he said.
The key to our success defensively will be limiting big plays, creating turnovers, and being physical. Offensively, we need to clean up mental miscues, not turn the ball over, and play physical.”
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BCR Game of the Week
Bureau Valley (4-1, 1-1) vs. Sterling Newman (5-0, 3-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Sterling High School