On the bus ride home from Pocatello after a state quarterfinal win against Highland last Friday, Mountain View football coach Judd Benedick sent a text message to the enemy.
“Would you like to begin the video exchange?” read the text to Eagle coach Paul Peterson.
The two rival 5A Southern Idaho Conference coaches agreed to swap game video from the entire season, setting up a long weekend of breaking down film in preparation for their state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Thunder Stadium.
“It’s going to be tight. Points are going to be tough to come by. Obviously both teams have some offensive firepower,” Peterson said. “But the overall collection of coaching and athletes on both defenses are superior, and you’re not going to trick anybody at this point.”
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Both teams were held to their lowest point outings of the season when Eagle beat Mountain View 22-19 on Aug. 26. The Mustangs (10-0) finished the regular season as the 5A’s top-ranked defense at 10.6 points and 179 yards per game. The Mavericks (9-2) were No. 2 at 11.1 points and 216 yards.
That’s when you want to play football, when it’s intense and people are really getting into it.
Zane Friedt, Eagle outside linebacker
Their defensive status switched after the Mustangs had a first-round bye and a high-scoring quarterfinal win over Coeur d’Alene, while Mountain View earned two playoff wins by giving up a combined three points.
The Mavericks now have a 9.4 to 13.4 points-per-game advantage.
“Teams have evolved and changed over the season, so you want to focus on what you’re doing well right now,” Benedick said.
“You can look back at your first game and kind of learn from some things, but you want to focus on what you’re doing well and what they’re doing well right now and try and formulate your plan based on how things look in the present.”
Having coached against each other for more than a decade, and played one another once already this season, each program has a clear understanding of its opponent’s tendencies, who their best players are and where the most explosive plays are likely to originate.
What neither coach can ultimately control is how players respond on the field, which was evident in the first meeting when there were as many turnovers as touchdowns.
“It was definitely the beginning of the season, neither of us had really hit our stride yet,” Eagle outside linebacker Zane Friedt said.
“But I think as far as athleticism, size and experience, we match up really well with each other. It’s going to be a good game, regardless.”
The three-point margin was the closest game of the season for either team, and both sides expect a similarly tight contest this time around.
“I honestly felt like we played pretty well. We were in the right positions, and we were doing the right things the entire game,” Mountain View defensive end Daniel Boots said. “There were a few mistakes that ended up hurting us, and that’s what happens in big games.
“It’s just a few plays here and there that end up making the difference.”
The winner will play the Capital-Rocky Mountain winner Nov. 19 at Albertsons Stadium.
State semifinals start Friday
Treasure Valley area teams still alive in the playoffs:
- 5A: Eagle, Mountain View, Rocky Mountain, Capital
- 4A: Bishop Kelly, Skyview
- 3A: Fruitland
- 1A DI: Notus
- 1A DII: Salmon River