Sure, the top-seeded Lowell football team didn’t need any extra motivation for today’s Turkey Bowl matchup with second-seeded Lincoln.
But that said, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals will be facing a team that unceremoniously ended their season last year.
Lowell, co-champion of the Academic Athletic Association in 2005 with Balboa, was shocked in the San Francisco Section semifinals by Lincoln 24-22, sending the heavily favored Cardinals home early before the annual Turkey Bowl championship game. Lincoln went on to beat Balboa in the Turkey Bowl.
"It was definitely a huge upset," said Cardinals running back Bismark Navarro, who led Lowell with 114 yards rushing in last week’s semifinal victory over Mission. "Our whole team thought it should have been us in the Turkey Bowl last year. This season, we just came out hungry and humble and made sure we played hard in every game."
This year’s Cardinals used the loss as a driving force behind their season, which helped them roll through league play undefeated and post a 10-1 overall mark despite losing many key performers from their stellar 2005 campaign.
"I still remember how Lincoln scored on each of their touchdowns last year," said Cardinals coach Danny Chan, who then rattled off in detail the Mustangs’ four scoring plays. "I think the loss was definitely on the back of our minds all season. We might have been overlooking them last year, so this season we made sure to practice with intensity every week, regardless of who we were playing."
The Cardinals were able to exact a small measure of revenge during the regular season, defeating the Mustangs 14-13 on Oct. 13. But they are well aware that the real rematch will take place today.
"That was a good win for us, but we didn’t dwell too much on it," Cardinals quarterback Carter Rockwell said. "We always stress focusing on the next game and I think this season, even though we’re a young team, we’ve done a real good job of preparing hard for each team. I think we learned a lot from the Lincoln game last year because we probably weren’t as prepared as we should have been."
For Rockwell and Co. to avert the same result that struck them last year, they will have to contain the big-play capabilities of Lincoln star running back David Henderson, as well as control the ball offensively with their time-consuming ground attack.
"We need to play Lowell football," Rockwell said. "If we play ball control, minimize turnovers and our defense plays like they have all year, then the rest should take care of itself."
At Kezar Stadium
» No. 1 Lowell (10-1) vs. No. 2 Lincoln (9-2), 11 a.m.