The St. Anthony Saints and Wilson Bruins are very similar this season. Both have young rosters, both stared the year on a losing streak, both had their game last week decided by the last play and they’re facing each other tonight at 7 at Wilson in the Battle For 7th Street rivalry game.
“Our players are extra motivated,” St. Anthony coach Mario Morales said. “They want to keep the trophy another year.”
The last two installments of this local rivalry have been dramatic finishes. The Saints fumbled on their final drive two years ago, and the Bruins fumbled on their final drive last season. Wilson has won five of the eight meetings between the schools and players who are very familiar with their rivals.
“I don’t want to call it a friendly rivalry, but we all know each other,” Wilson quarterback Ryan Pettway said. He and St. Anthony quarterback Nick Billoups went to Rogers Middle School together.
Wilson (1-2) picked up its first win of the season last week at Huntington Beach 10-7 but stopping the Oilers on the goal line on the final drive of the game.
“We had a lot of bad mistakes the first couple of games, and we limited our mistakes last week,” Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said. “The players have a little pep in their step. They can walk around school with a little bit of pride.”
The Wilson offense hadn’t picked up a first down on its first drive of the game until opening last week on a 16-play, 7:30 minute scoring drive to take the lead at Huntington Beach.
St. Anthony (0-3) has been outscored 101-40 this season after narrowly losing to Palm Springs last week in the home opener at Clark Field. The Saints saw a possible game-winning field goal sail wide in a 28-26 loss.
Morales said he’s been impressed by Wilson linebacker Ethan Moxley on film, and Ziegenhagen said the key to victory for his team is continuing Billoups in the pocket.
“It is a big game,” Ziegenhagen said. “That’s why I play my friends in the preseason, because I want to try and beat them all.”
Ziegenhagen and Mayfair coach Derek Bedell have known each other since their kids played youth baseball together. Some of the Huntington Beach coaches also worked with Ziegenhagen at Wilson, just like he did with Morales. Ziegenhagen and Morales have known each other since they played football together at Long Beach State.