Just as almost every 3A football fan in Arizona predicted, the Show Low Cougars (12-1) meet the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets (12-0) tomorrow, Nov. 27, in the state championship game.
Kickoff is 5 p.m. in Northern Arizona University’s Walkup Skydome.
Show Low advanced to the title game with a 42-21 semifinal win over Snowflake.
Blue Ridge whipped an outmanned Florence team 49-7 in the semis to earn a shot at the state crown.
Although Show Low lost 36-18 to the Jackets in a regular season meeting on Oct. 22, a quirk in the power points system allowed the Cougars to take the No. 1 seed to state, and BR advanced as a No. 2 seed.
When the two teams met in October, almost 10,000 turned out for the rivalry showdown.
Due to the intense rivalry, a Phoenix-area officiating crew was called in to replace local officials that usually officiate East games.
Apparently AIA big wigs wanted to eliminate any allegations of “homering” that might surface after the game.
In spite of the precautions, what occurred after the game was an incident almost no one expected.
Show Low coach Randy Ricedorff sought out Blue Ridge star linebacker Alex Stibbens during the traditional post-game handshakes accusing him of cheap shots. Reportedly, some of the shots were on quarterback Rathan Ricedorff, the coach’s son.
Seeing Ricedorff confront Stibbens, Blue Ridge assistant Danny Hawkins, a former head coach at Show Low, got into the mix exchanging unpleasantries with Ricedorff.
Some at the game say the two were about to come to blows before other coaches, including a BRHS assistant, separated them.
Although Ricedorff apologized for his actions after the game, SLHS administrators suspended him for the following game, which was against Payson on Oct. 29.
In it, Show Low survived a 45-40 thriller, thanks to the passing heroics of Rathan Ricedorff.
For what occurred at the BRHS-Show Low game, the Arizona Interscholastic Association did not take any action against the Cougar coach.
It’s unthinkable that another such incident would occur tomorrow in Flagstaff, but AIA and school officials, as well as law enforcement, will be out in force to insure a peaceful outcome to the biggest game to be played this season in small-town Arizona high school football.