The St. Bede-Bureau Valley football game has less riding on it this season.
The transformation of the Big Rivers Conference into the two division, 14-team Three Rivers Conference left the Bruins and Storm in opposite sides of the league.
That doesn’t mean Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game at the Academy is any less important to the teams involved.
“I look at it as one conference,” BV coach Jeff Ohlson said. “Even though it’s considered a crossover, to me it’s a conference game. It’s still part of the Three Rivers. We approach it like any game. It’s a big game for us. It’s a big game for them. Every game in conference is a big game. We want to play well. We want to continue to get better. It doesn’t matter if it’s conference or crossover or what.”
Both coaches expect a tough battle Friday with each team coming in 1-0.
“They have great speed,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said about what he saw on film of BV’s 42-21 victory over Hall. “They have another great quarterback (in junior Parker Neuhalfen). That’s a tradition for them over there. He makes things happen. It starts up front. They are very adequate on defense. They stopped Hall basically throughout the game. It should be a hard-fought game.”
Ohlson agreed after watching film of St. Bede’s 41-6 rout of Amboy-LaMoille.
“They’re big,” Ohlson said. “No. 3 (Justin) Shaw is dangerous. He made plays offensively and defensively. (Michael) Bellino is a good athlete as a fullback and linebacker. Those two caught my attention real quick, and those freshmen are pretty good. The center (Michael Slingsby) does a good job for them. (Braidy) Shipp caught some nice balls.
“If you worry about their (main) skill kids, other kids do things for them. They’re well balanced. The quarterback (Jack Brady) played pretty well.”
Against the Clippers, Brady completed 11-of-16 passes for 232 yards and five touchdowns.
Shaw ran for 58 yards, caught three passes for 76 yards and two scores and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown. Shipp, Bellino and Matt Szczepaniak also caught TD passes.
John Bellino said the Bruins will take whatever the Storm defense gives, but Ohlson expects St. Bede will be more balanced.
“There are things we talk to the kids about every day. One is execution and another is discipline,” Ohlson said. “We have to be in the right spot and do it every time. If we do those things, I feel we’ll be solid. If we play the way we’ve been coached and the way the kids know how to play, we’ll be OK. If we don’t and we make mistakes, St. Bede is going to take advantage of them.”
Neuhalfen threw for 136 yards and a TD and ran for 79 yards and three scores against Hall.
“We were fortunate enough to contain (Tyler) Barnas last year,” John Bellino said. “(Defensive coordinator) Mark (Siebert) will come up with an idea. Hopefully, we can do the same this year.”
The Storm also have several other weapons, including fullback Tommy Johnston (21-yard TD catch) and Tucker Schoff (16 carries, 138 yards, 2 TDs).
“All three backs are very, very dangerous,” John Bellino said. “Neuhalfen and No. 9 (Johnson) are in their third year. They are a very experienced ball club, so they’re not going to make mistakes.”
John Bellino is pleased with his team entering Week 2.
“I can’t be any happier,” Bellino said. “Going in, we were a very, very young team. We didn’t know what to expect. We kept our mistakes down to a minimum. If we can do that, I think we’ll be fine.”
Ohlson also is satisfied with his team.
“I’m happy with how we did and where we were at for Week 1,” Ohlson said. “A good team has to get better. We have to correct some errors and get better.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.