Curry County fans will get their first look at this area’s two premier prep football programs Friday at 7 p.m. when the 3A Brookings-Harbor Bruins host the 2A Gold Beach Panthers in preseason play at Elmer Bankus Field.
While it's true preseason doesn't count when it comes to making the regular-season playoffs, smart teams will utilize these practice games to try out players at different positions, take all those x's and o's from the whiteboard to the grass, and make decisions about what works ... and what doesn't.
The Bruins, under second-year coach Shaun Bavaro, hope to continue where the team left off last year, when Brookings dealt Gold Beach a 26-6 setback.
That inter-county civil war game, which at one time had enjoyed strong support, had been discontinued for years as the two teams pursued other pre-season opponents that better fit their overall scheduling.
But it returned last year, to strong fan support.
Longtime Panther football coach Kevin Swift said the game’s resurrection had much to do with his friendship with Bavaro. "Shaun's a great guy and he is doing good things with their program, and I enjoy working with him.
"Brookings played good ball last year and I expect them to play good ball again this year."
The Bruins are coming off of a 2-3 regular-season record, 5-5 overall. "We have almost everybody back and that's a good thing," said Bavaro.
Gold Beach went 1-3 in league and 1-7 overall. Until a few days ago, there was doubt the Panthers would even field a team this year, which would be a first since 1956.
Bavaro said he has the utmost respect for Swift and the Panthers, and isn't looking past them come on Friday evening. "They have had a tough time up there, but I'm glad for their kids and the community that it is coming together for them.”
Added Bavaro, "Kevin Swift's teams have a reputation around the state as always being tough competitors. His success in running that program has been amazing."
Brookings’ opponent following the Gold Beach game will be 7 p.m. Sept. 13 on the road at Bandon.
All of the Brookings football games will be broadcast on KURY Radio 95.3 FM. Randy Robbins has covered Curry County sports for radio and print for 20 years and will have online recaps of Bruin football following each of the games at www.currypilot.com.